Volume 8 Chapter 46 The Revival of Shirogane Aqua
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
I can’t move…
Even though my heart is here, it’s as if my mind and body have been disconnected, and my own body refuses to obey.
From the stage looming before me, I can hear the excited cheers of the fans eagerly awaiting us.
Please! The fans are waiting!!
It’s the greatest stage we’ve ever thought of, crafted with the best of comrades.
What can we do to make all the fans enjoy themselves?
What if we try something like this?
We shared our ideas, eagerly looking forward to the Halloween event.
So why am I in this situation?
By the time I noticed, I was sitting in a chair, head hanging low.
From somewhere far away, I could hear the hurried movements of Ako-san and the staff.
Separate from that, I could hear singing coming from the stage.
’Even if something has happened to you, even if you’re carrying something, I’ll accept it all.’
This singing voice is Toa’s…
Today, his singing seems to be filled with an unprecedented emotion.
Whether it’s good or bad, Toa has a habit of trying to sing well during live performances.This might be the first time it has stirred emotions in me so deeply.
’Do you remember that night’s confession, your answer? Break through this thick wall, take my hand!’
Toa has changed since that day.
He started looking forward, challenging new things more and more on his own, surprising all of us. This was probably Toa’s true personality. Seeing Toa becoming brighter, I gained a lot of energy from him.
’Because your words are always within me! Don’t give up here. It’s okay not to be strong, it’s okay to be pathetic, even if moving forward becomes painful, I’ll always be by your side.’
Toa is strong.
If I had experienced the same things as Toa, would I have been able to move forward like him?
Overcoming trauma and standing up again is incredibly difficult.
That’s why Toa’s singing voice, which has overcome trauma, was so powerful.
My sinking heart was grabbed by Toa, and it slowly rose back up.
’To wherever, forever…’
I thought it would last forever.
But life ends someday.
The lights, the cheers from the audience, the big stage, everything overlapped with that time.
Memories of the past flashed back.
Ah, is this how people die so unceremoniously?
I realized that this was my trauma.
The lingering regrets from my past life had turned into a curse, stealing away my freedom from my current body.
”Aqua… Can you hear this singing? Toa is doing her best on the stage right now.”
Yeah, I understand, Shintaro.
I can hear Toa’s singing.
He’s really become so much better.
”I’m going there now too.”
”So, watch me from there.”
For this day today, Shintaro has put in a lot of effort.
One of the new songs includes a dance part performed by all four of us.
Even though Shintaro isn’t good at dancing, I’ve seen him practicing late into the night because he wants to dance with everyone.
I want to dance with Shintaro too. I want to sing with Toa.
But my body won’t move at all.
I felt utterly pathetic.
”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.”
I can hear Shintaro’s powerful voice. Stop looking down and lift your head! I felt like he was telling me that.
”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.”
Right, I still have a future in this life. The dream I couldn’t fulfill in my past life.
I’ve been working hard to make it come true. I struggle within my heart. It might be in vain, but the desire to do something about it is stronger.
Even if it’s unsightly, even if it’s uncool, Shintaro’s and Toa’s hands now grab both of mine, and I rise even higher.
”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.”
I never thought the day would come when they’d pull me along. My fingertips moved faintly. My distant heart and body gradually drew closer.
”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.”
That’s right. Lift your head, Shirogane Aqua! I want to see the same scenery as you!!
”Finally, you’re looking over here. This slowpoke!”
I was surprised, my eyes widening. To my surprise, it was Kohina Yukari-senpai standing where I had raised my head.
”Why is it that on the day I decide to come to see you, this happens?! At this rate, I’ll look like a jinx or something! Huh?! If things continue like this, tomorrow’s newspaper will have headlines like ‘Kohina Yukari Ruins Live Concert,’ and it will blow up on the internet… Come on, hurry up and recover! Right now!! For my sake!!”
Haha… Senpai, normally, in times like these, people offer comforting words, don’t they?
But, conversely, it felt just like something Kohina Yukari-senpai would say. And senpai isn’t the type to be bothered by a massive online backlash either.
So, I understand. Senpai is deliberately saying it that way.
Senpai… as Kohina Yukari, is still trying to become herself. Thanks to that, I can breathe a sigh of relief.
I learned that senpai isn’t perfect either.
”It’s all right, Senpai. You’ve been a hot topic for ages, so adding more fuel to the fire will only make it bigger.”
”Ayana-chan, you’re terrible!”
I looked next to Kohina-senpai, and Ayana was standing there.
Both of them were given tickets from the flow of things to the staff seats.
I don’t know which of them noticed. Maybe both of them did.
Either way, they noticed my abnormality and came here. Thinking about it that way made me happy, and my lips moved slightly.
With a lively voice, I immediately knew who it was.
”Are you all right!? If your stomach hurts, I can accompany you to the restroom…”
”Morikawa-san? What on earth are you saying?”
For some reason, Kirika-san stared coldly at the strangely affectionate Morikawa-san.
”Eek! N-nothing at all. It’s just, a joke, Nee-san. Haha…”
Kirika-san gazed intently at me and spoke in a gentle voice.
”Toa-chan, Mayuzumi-san, and Tenga-san are all doing their best for Aqua-san on stage right now. But that’s not all. The staff and Ako-san are also working hard, all wishing for your return.”
Kirika-san slowly crouched down and placed her hand on top of my clenched fist.
”Everyone, everyone has been saved by you. I’m one of them too. I wanted to repay you somehow, so I applied for a job at Beryl. But at a time like this, I can’t do anything for Aqua-san… What can I possibly give you?”
There’s no need for that. Those words were stuck in my throat and wouldn’t come out.
”I’ve been watching how hard Aqua-san has been working behind the scenes, so that’s why, that’s why… Everyone was looking forward to this stage so much! Let’s do this! I’ll do anything I can. So, for the sake of everyone working hard on stage, won’t you try standing up just one more time? I’m sure the stage will be fun, and the audience will welcome Aqua-san more warmly than anyone else.”
Kirika-san’s usually sharp eyes drooped at the corners.
My heart wavered at Kirika-san’s expression, which seemed like she might cry at any moment.
Kirika-san, the fans, they don’t want to see such a sad sight.
Is it okay for an idol to make fans look like that?!
”Hey, Aqua-kun. You know, I really love this job too. I accidentally joined this company at first, but even for someone as clumsy as me, they’ve been kind, and I take pride in my job as an announcer, conveying things to people. So, you know, even if I fail, mess up, I’ll definitely move on to the next job. That’s my little pride and my source of pride. Well, sometimes I almost get scolded by my boss for being late, though…”
”””It’s your fault.”””
Haha, for some reason, not just Kirika-san but also Kohina-senpai and Ayana were nodding along.
When I’m with Morikawa-san, I somehow feel much better. Some people might find it noisy, but that noise felt comforting to me.
Well, speaking of noise, it seemed a bit different…
”Stop! You there, Bike!!”
”Wait, someone stop them! It’s trespassing!!”
The word “trespassing” made everyone around me tense up.
Over the loud brake sound of the Bike, my gaze was naturally drawn toward it.
On the Bike with a sidecar was a beautiful woman dressed in Chinese clothing.
I recognized both the woman.
”Today only, Ramen Takeko’s special Halloween delivery service. Your ordered Bride Ramen has been delivered!!”
”W-Why are you here, Emi…ly!?”
Emily-san’s appearance surprised everyone.
”Hehe, my sensors went all ‘ping’ like this. I sensed something unusual. Look, see my ahoge? It’s standing straight up today, right? By the way, this Emi-sensor is useful when I get lost too. Also, for some reason, all the traffic lights were green, so I raced here down Aoyama Street on my Bike!”
Wha…what!? Did that ahoge really have a function like that?
”For real… You’re quite something.”
”That’s right, that’s right. Morikawa can compliment me more!”
”Emily-san, you’re something else…”
”Hehe, how about it, Nee-san? You’ve finally realized that I’m not just here to liven things up, right?”
Emily-san got off the Bike and exchanged words with Kirika-san and Morikawa-san. My gaze was naturally directed toward Kanon, who was riding behind Emily-san.
Kanon said she would be watching the live with the fans online today instead of in the family seats.
According to Kanon, some of my fans had become friends with her online.
She said that she wanted to have a good time with those who couldn’t make it to the show today, chatting with them on the net, because she worried them when she was forced to leave Japan by the Stars.
Despite that, I… I’m sorry, Kanon.
”Want to go home?”
Surprised, I involuntarily voiced the unexpected words. Everyone around me opened their eyes wide and froze at Kanon’s words.
”I won’t ask what happened to you, Aqua. But you see, just like we have our own troubles, you have your own too.”
Kanon, just like Kirika-san had done, placed her left hand on my clenched fist and gently stroked my head with her right hand.
”So if it gets tough, it’s okay to quit.”
”I’ve decided, you know. No matter what choice Aqua makes, I’ll accept it. Since the day I married Aqua, I wanted to be a place where Aqua could find peace in their heart. So, you know. Instead of going through painful and difficult times, how about we go home together? I’ll take care of everything, so let’s forget it all and relax at home?”
After finishing stroking my head, Kanon used her gentle hands to soften and release my tightly clenched fist.
”Hehe… But, you see, Aqua isn’t like that. The idol Shirogane Aqua always responds to everyone’s voices. Until I became Aqua’s wife, I was really happy about that. But, now that I am Aqua’s wife and I know about the blood, sweat, and tears you put into your work, I get really worried. So, what I said earlier was just my feelings as Shirogane Aqua’s wife. But, as a fan of the idol Shirogane Aqua, I want you to stand up one more time, for someone who put in so much effort like you did. Because, Aqua, you look so frustrated right now.”
My face faintly reflected on an acrylic sheet nearby.
When I saw my expression, I was gritting my teeth. I was resisting. I was trying to stand up again.
Not just my heart, but my body was also struggling to break through the current situation.
”Hey, Aqua. Can you hear the voices from the audience?”
I tilted my ears toward the stage.
’Because in this pitch-black world, you shone the brightest of all.’
Tenga-senpai’s voice could be heard.
”Because you’re a light, you shine especially brightly in a moonless night sky. I feel like I can go anywhere with you.”
Kanon let go of my hand and stood up, gazing up at the sky.
Following her lead, everyone around also turned their eyes toward the sky.
What in the world was happening? The only thing I understood was that Tenga-senpai seemed to be telling us to look up at the sky.
I slowly raised my head.
”As the night sky grows darker, you shine even brighter. Everyone around you becomes brighter too.”
The sky is full of stars, and the twinkling of the falling stars is mesmerizing.
Senpai is… amazing.
I thought it was a joke that he could make the heavens his own, but he has really controlled them.
Who in the world could have imagined that we could see such a beautiful night sky in the middle of the Shibuya scramble?
’Sometimes you may weaken and be obscured by clouds, and that’s okay. Even on such days, no one will blame you.’
My trembling legs regained their strength.
’Because in this pitch-black world, you shone the brightest of all.’
I wanted to stand up.
’I’m grateful for the miracle of meeting you.’
Shintaro’s delicate piano sound made my body, which had been tense, naturally relax.
I opened and closed my clenched fists to check the feeling.
’I’m thankful for the destiny of meeting you.’
And that powerful drumbeat, again and again, strongly struck my heart. The distant heart was slowly approaching my body.
’Because you’re a light, you shine especially brightly in a moonless night sky. Ah, what a wonderful sight.’
And then, Tenga-senpai pushed my heart from behind as Shintaro lifted me up.
Just a little more to the surface! My outstretched hand grabbed Kanon’s wrist.
’The world you illuminated shines so brightly. Everyone learns the beauty of the world from the light you radiate.’
I wanted to stand on the stage!
I turned my gaze to Kanon, and behind her, the image of the audience on the monitor placed in front of Moja-san appeared. White, purple, green, red, aqua, yellow… Ah, could there be such a beautiful and fantastic night sky?
My heart trembled at the penlights everyone was waving. On the monitor next to it, the TV broadcast screen showed the simultaneous viewership numbers, and comments from the chat on the screen through the streaming site were flowing.
Many people were looking forward to this stage, not just me!
”Welcome back, Aqua.”
Tears streamed down Kanon’s cheeks. I stood up and hugged Kanon.
”I’m home, Kanon. I’m sorry for worrying you.”
My consciousness was now completely clear.
”Welcome back, Aqua-san.”
”Aqua-kun, welcome back!”
”Aqua-sama, welcome back!!”
”Jeez, don’t make us worry like that!”
”All right, crisis averted!!”
”Thank you, everyone.”
I bowed my head gently.
”Worst case, I thought I might have to cheer you up with some breasts-poking, but I’m glad it didn’t come to that.”
My voice and Ayana’s voice synchronized.
”Wait a minute, Aqua-sama. Does squeezing breasts really boost your spirits!? In that case, we have two big free boobs right here at Ramen Takeko. We’re running a free breast-squeezing campaign right now!!”
”Emily-san!? Wait, huh? Uh, um, mine too?”
”Nice going, Emily! Let’s ride this big wave, Nee-san! Right now, as a bonus for signing up for the national broadcast viewing contract, Kaede-chan’s breasts are free.”
”Kaede-san!? Well, uh, if there’s demand for mine too… please, go ahead.”
Hey, wait a second!? Why is Kirika-san saying such things!?
”Well, it can’t be helped. As an exception, you can… squeeze mine too. Just for today!”
”That’s right. There’s no other way, Master. Pegonia will serve you, and when you get home, you can squeeze the Miss’s breasts as much as you like.”
”Yeah, I’m the wife, after all. So… anytime you want, not just today…”
Ayana!? Pegonia-san!? Even Kanon!? How did it come to this!? And there’s Kohina-senpai grinning over there, this is your fault!
”T-Thanks, everyone. A-anyway, I’m going now.”
”He ran away.”
They say discretion is the better part of valor, and as much as I’d like to squeeze some breasts, doing it here is just impossible!
All the staff members were staring at me, and some were even staring at their own breasts, checking the sizes.
Even I couldn’t stay and had to run away in embarrassment.
”Huff… huff… ah…”
As I fled, or rather, went toward the stage wing exit, I saw Ako-san’s back in front of me.
”Can you go on for the next song, ‘The End of the World’?”
Ako-san slowly turned toward me.
I noticed blood seeping from her clenched fist.
Ah, Ako-san had been waiting for me all this time. Without saying anything, she just believed that I would come…
”I can go…!”
”Alright, I understand.”
Ako-san said that and signaled to Moja-san.
I swallowed the words I was about to say to Ako-san. We don’t need words between us anymore.
I promised to show her the best stage, from the best seat in the house.
So, the only thing I can do for Ako-san is one thing. Not words, but to show her the best stage. That’s it.
”Tenga-kun! Toa-chan! Mayuzumi-kun! All three of you, thank you. Everything is fine now!”
My hand holding the microphone trembled.
And there, I heard Shintaro, Tenga-senpai, and everyone’s voices.
Ako-san, Moja-san, all the staff, they were all working hard to make this stage the best it could be.
Kanon, Kohina-senpai, Ayana, Kirika-san, Morikawa-san, Emily-san… and Pegonia-san, too. They all gathered here to encourage me, even backstage. Thank you all so much.
And above all, the light from the fans’ penlights, it reinvigorated Shirogane Aqua as an idol.
Everyone, wait for me. I’ll pour all my gratitude into this stage and deliver it to all of you.
”Who’s calling my name?”
Yeah, this scene, it certainly reminds me of that time.
Standing backstage again, it seemed to overlap with those days.
No, it’s different. It looks similar, but it’s not the same.
I was mistaken. This stage is different from the one back then.
In my previous life, the one I admired was an irreplaceable idol who risked her life to stand on stage.
So, I’ll also stake my life on this stage, on every stage, in my second life as idol Shirogane Aqua.
”The only ones allowed on this stage are those willing to follow me.”
Step by step, I moved forward. Just as everyone had grown, I was growing too.
Right now, in this moment, I was overcoming the memories of the past and my past self.
”Shirogane Aqua promises. I’ll show you the best stage… so follow me!!”
The spotlight’s beams showered down, accompanied by thunderous applause from the audience. Now, shall we all enjoy the best stage we create together!!
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.