Volume 9 Chapter 3 Kirika Kotono, There are Thorns in Beautiful Rose
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
At the Halloween Night Festival, Aqua-san and others performed Shikiori (Season by Season) with sign language. The opportunity to sing this song in sign language was a single letter that was also introduced on stage.
Actually, Beryl receives handwritten letters and emails almost every day. Aqua-san wants to read all of them, but there is no way he can read them all by himself.
So, the many letters and emails that arrive daily are all checked by our employees, and only the selected letters are delivered to Aqua-san. Aqua-san, who read the delivered letters, asked me what to do with that particular letter I happened to bring.
”I’m sorry, Kirika-san. It was supposed to be your day off…”
”Don’t worry, it’s fine. Besides, this doesn’t count as work.”
Now, Aqua-san is sitting in the passenger seat of my car. But wha-what should I do!?
It’s not the first time I’ve given Aqua-san a ride in my car, but being alone with him, and especially having him sit in the passenger seat of my own car, makes me very nervous.
And today is a day off, not work, it’s private.
When I think about it, this is like… no, I can’t think about it any further!! It’s true, it’s definitely true. It’s similar to the situation in that one page that came out in No-Rin.
The heroine going on a light truck date with a boy and heading to the agricultural cooperative. No… it’s not an exaggeration to say that this is a complete match.
Ah, no, Kotono, Aqua-san and I are the company’s talent and manager, we have to maintain our composure and behave properly! And Kanon-san, she trusts me and has entrusted Aqua-san to me!!
’Nee-san, it’s fine if you come home late if you’re in a good atmosphere.’
While stopped, I hit my forehead on the steering wheel, remembering Kanon-san’s words.
”Are you okay?”
”S-sorry. You had to see that.”
I regain my composure and slowly resume driving.
Of all times, I had to remember Kanon-san’s words from our phone conversation.
Really, Kanon-san, please consider the age difference. Aqua-san is 16, I am 30, and if things go wrong… or rather, isn’t this just a plain crime!!
Sure, I supported Hakuryuu-sensei back then, but when it comes to myself, that was then, this is now. As an adult, it’s my position to protect Aqua-san from the adults.
Seriously, please don’t say strange things. Speaking of strange things…
’Nee-san… let’s purposely fall on him and press your breasts against him!! Let’s make him understand with your breasts.’
’Morikawa-sama, that’s a brilliant idea. With Kirika-sama’s breast, Master will fall for her in an instant as if in a two panels manga.’
’Nee-san, you are worried that if you pushe Aqua-sama down, he might fall backwards, right? Don’t worry about that. Aqua-sama’s back will be supported by my useless big breasts! It’s one fall from the front, two squeezes from the back!’
’As expected of you, Yukishiro-sama, although it’s modest, I will also provide this useless meat of mine.’
’Hagetoru, you… genius…! Th-then, should I support Aqua-kun’s lower body with my breasts so that he doesn’t fall? Hehehe.’
’Morikawa-sama, that would be a crime.’
’Tch… You should think before you speak.’
’Hey, I don’t want to be told that by you, Hagetoru! And Shumi and Nee-san, please don’t look at me with such cold eyes! Please don’t abandon me, uwaaaah, help me, Pegomon!!’
I was reminded of the stupid exchange with my friends from the sleepover party the other day. Looking back, I’ve been friends with everyone since Kanon-san was in junior high.
They always say such silly things, no matter how many years pass… Haha, thanks to that, I feel like I’ve become a little more calm.
”We will arrive at our destination soon.”
I turn my gaze to Aqua-san in the passenger seat, folding the letter he was reading neatly and quietly putting it back in his pocket.
Ah, what should I do? He love taking the time to fold it carefully along the creases so that the letter doesn’t get dirty or damaged, and gently putting it back in his pocket… I love it all.
It may seem like such a small thing, but when you reach my age, those kind gestures and kindness make your heart skip a beat.
”Thank you, Kirika-san.”
As always, Aqua-san expresses his gratitude to me with a gentle smile. Although I have developed some resistance now, I never thought I would be able to interact with men like this until just a little while ago.
’In the upcoming Halloween Night Festival, male visitors are expected.’
At the beginning of the joint staff meeting with the organizing committee, the room buzzed with excitement at President Atori’s words.
It has been mentioned on daily news programs, but slowly and surely, the environment surrounding us is changing. Looking back, in recent years, just as many women have been hurt by verbal abuse and violence from men, many men have also been hurt by uncontrollable actions such as r*pe by women.
It wouldn’t be strange even for politicians to give up in such a situation, but it is none other than Shirogane Aqua, who is right in front of me, who has overcome such a situation.
Not only Aqua-san’s achievements, but also the reactions from men who were inspired by Toa-chan, Mayuzumi-san, and Tenga-san’s achievements, were unimaginable.
’I think it will be difficult due to security issues, but Beryl Entertainment wants to invite male fans to watch the event together with female fans in the same special seating area.’
Everyone was surprised by President Atori’s strong statement. Everyone in the room looked at each other with perplexed faces and then turned their gaze back to President Atori.
President Atori is not that tall, let alone 6 years younger than me. And yet, her dignified sitting posture and the strong gaze of her will gave off an air of dignity.
Beryl Entertainment succeeded because Shirogane Aqua is there, isn’t it?
I think there were some people who thought that way. But that’s not true. Behind Aqua-san’s radiance, there was always President Atori. On the day I joined Beryl, President Atori said this to me.
’I used to work at an advertising agency for the Fuji Zaibatsu group. At that time, I think I caused a lot of trouble for my seniors, colleagues, and the company because I was not good at my job. So I want all of you to make a lot of mistakes and cause a lot of trouble.
Of course, it’s important to learn from mistakes and apply them to the next opportunity. But no matter how careful you are, mistakes will always happen. In that case, if someone makes a mistake, someone else will cover for them. I want to make Beryl into that kind of company.’
With these strong words, President Atori smiled for a moment.
’And one more thing, I think of you all as teammates who share the same goal. That’s why I want to say this. Shirogane Aqua proposes something incredible. There are things that no one has ever done before, things that no one has tried to do, and there may even be reckless things.
That’s why I want all of you to come together and fulfill his, no, their desires. Is that okay? Our company is not a company with a long history, nor is it like traditional industry offices. If we just play defense, we won’t gain anything and nothing will change. We have to attack, assault…
There may be criticism along the way, but what does that matter? The future will prove what lies beyond. So let’s create history together! Let us assist in changing the world!!’
I thought she was an amazing person. At the same time, everyone else thought the same. Ah, that’s why Aqua-san, the idol Shirogane Aqua, shines brighter than anyone else…
In reality, President Atori’s speed in making decisions as a president is astonishing. And she even works on her days off, I’ve never seen her taking a break.
’President, this time I will go with Aqua-san. So please take a little break. I took a day off before Halloween, but president… I don’t think you even went home.’
’There’s not but!! You are the president. Ultimately, the important decisions are made by the president. So have you thought about what will happen if you get sick? Aqua-san’s actions being delayed wouldn’t be what the president wants, right?’
In that sense, President Atori and Aqua-san may be similar. In a bad way, it’s like recklessness. I realized through this incident that people like them need to be properly rested.
’Hahaha… Sorry, Kirika-san. And thank you. Well, sorry, but I’m going to take a day off, so Kirika-san, can I ask you to take care of Aqua-kun?’
’Yes, President. Leave it to me.’
’Hehehe, Kirika-san, you’re really reliable. Hey, if anything happens, will you take over as the president for me?’
’President… Instead of saying such silly things, please take a proper rest, okay? I’ll check later if you’re actually resting.’
At that time, I thought, I see, this intimidating look can also be useful. I wonder if Aqua-san also has this intimidating look?
Ah… but when Aqua-san looked at me with that glare, he said something like “You’re cute.” Seriously, I couldn’t believe it.
But, could it be that Aqua-san has bad eyesight? I should contact Kanon-san and Pegonia-san later and take Aqua-san to the ophthalmologist.
”We have arrived. Let’s go inside through the back entrance.”
When we arrived at our destination, we were guided by the local venue staff to the waiting room. Aqua-san adjusted his costume and started singing, incorporating it as light vocal practice.
Ah, what a pleasant singing voice it is. A gentle singing voice with a sense of inclusiveness, filled with a sensuality that women don’t have, just listening to it makes me throb as a woman.
It’s definitely not a singing voice that a 16-year-old boy should have. It’s understandable that many influential people and popular singers who were captivated by this singing voice want to duet with him.
They want to sing together as singers, not with any ulterior motives. And the number of contacts they receive is tremendous.
Aqua-san breathed out lightly and took out a letter from his pocket, carefully examining its contents.
How many times has he reread that letter? The person who wrote this letter probably never imagined that it would be read so many times.
I’m really glad I can do this job. I was able to know that he is truly wonderful. Just like President Atori, I also want to support him from behind.
I am neither as cute as Kanon-san, nor as lively as Kaede-san, nor as beautiful as Emily-san. Everyone said they would support me, but I know very well that I am not the heroine myself.
So… this is fine.
”Aqua-san, it’s about time.”
We left the waiting room and went from the back door of the venue to the stage wings. Aqua-san went alone and sat on the chair placed in front of the piano on the stage. Currently, a wedding is taking place in this room. By the way, the letter, which was read by Aqua-san, said the following:
[Dear Beryl Entertainment, Shirogane Aqua-sama, I have a dear friend. That friend is getting married. Fortunately, the groom saw Aqua-sama and Kanon-sama’s wedding and said that although they couldn’t do the same, they wanted to do something similar.
All of us, the bride’s friends, were so happy as if it were our own. Because just being able to marry a man is a miracle, and I thought it was amazing that he would say such a thing.
So, I have a favor to ask… Could your company’s Shirogane Aqua-sama sing at that wedding? We are willing to somehow manage the money among us friends. I want to do something for my friend! Please consider it. Thank you!]
As I read it, I felt a warm feeling. Aqua-san read this letter and immediately said he wanted to go. No, rather, he said he had to go himself, and he asked President Atori to let him go as a private matter, not as work.
If they had requested it normally, it would have cost an incredible amount, and I think it would not be an amount that an average person could afford.
But… these people, this company, that’s not their priority. Because this company is a company that fulfills what Shirogane Aqua wants to do.
[We are in the middle of the program, but here we have gifts from the friends of the bride and groom.]
Voices of excitement can be heard from the venue. Well, of course. Because only the staff working at the venue knows about this surprise.
In other words, even the people who sent the letters have not been informed. Aqua-san adjusted the height of the chair, lightly moved his arms, and gently placed his fingertips on the keyboard.
[Now, everyone please pay attention to the stage set up in the venue!!]
A beautiful melody of Aqua-san’s playing flows. This song is the one Toa-chan sang to Aqua-san at his wedding. At the same time, the curtain that separated the stage and the venue slowly rises.
”Huh, huh, are you kidding?”
”Wait, wait a minute!”
”It’s real, it’s real, right?”
”Ah… is this a dream…”
Yes, of course everyone would react like that. But whether they have good manners or are just too surprised to move, everyone is silently staring at the stage. For now, it’s fine. Well, even if something happens, I will definitely stop it…
’No matter how difficult the night, morning will surely come.’
When I heard this song for the first time, I remembered the day in high school when I lost my mother. No matter how difficult things may be, tomorrow will always come. That is a fact.
But I couldn’t see the direction of tomorrow. As I grew older, I was able to reconcile with myself, but there was still a hole in my heart. The time I spent with Kanon-san, Kaede-san, and Emily-san healed that wounded time.
’On slightly reluctant Monday mornings, I thought I didn’t want to be away from you.’
At first, we met a few times as Verification Team members, but eventually we started meeting on holidays as well. Even though we had a significant age difference, that time became irreplaceable to me.
Looking back now, it may have been because those three had no reservations at all. Kanon-san, a middle school student, seemed quite mature and a bit cheeky, as if trying to act grown-up, and I thought it was cute. As for Kaede-san and Emily-san, I think they have always been like that towards everyone since back then.
That’s why spending time with everyone was enjoyable, but Mondays after the holidays were a bother.
’On Tuesday afternoons, even when apart, I’m always thinking of you.’
Yes, that’s right. When Tuesday came, I would think about when we could meet again, and that was something I looked forward to.
’On Wednesday nights, I want to go to the aquarium together’
Haha, I remember. The four of us went to the aquarium. Since none of us had ever been on a date, we went on a group date just in case.
It’s really funny to think about it now. But it was a lot of fun. Kaede-san participated in a show and slipped and fell into the pool, and Emily-san almost got lost.
Oh, wait? Now that I think about it, I only remember those two causing trouble… Well, it must be just my imagination. Let’s just say it was a good memory.
’On Thursday afternoons, how about sneaking out together?’
By the way, when we happened to be in Tokyo, the four of us coincidentally gathered at the same restaurant for lunch.
It was rumored that it was a restaurant where men worked, but that turned out to be false information. When we found out that we had both been fooled, we laughed instead of feeling sad.
’On Friday nights, let’s have a delicious dinner just the two of us.’
Someone suggested trying a dinner date, so it was quite a challenge. None of us had a date outfit, and our table manners were naturally uncertain.
Kanon-san really helped us at that time. She was still a middle school student back then… Besides that, I was also surprised by how elegant Emily-san’s table manners were.
’On Saturday, I want to spend the whole day at home with you.’
The other day, we happened to have a sleepover at Aqua-san and Kanon-san’s new place, but we had also had sleepovers before.
Spending a night with someone after a long time in an empty house was very enjoyable, and it made being at home easier.
’On Sunday mornings, when I wake up, you’re right in front of me in bed. Hey, don’t you think these are all such happy things?’
The next day, even when I woke up, everyone was at home, but it’s a secret that I cried alone in the bathroom in the morning.
Haha, what am I doing at this age? Because, ever since my mother died, I had been alone in that house.
Ah, no… I might start crying if I think about that time. That’s why it’s unfair. Aqua-san’s singing brings my precious memories back to the forefront of my minds.
’I love you. Just that alone makes ordinary days happy.’
When I looked at the bride and groom, they were both holding hands and smiling happily. It’s nice. It warms my heart to see them so happy.
Their friends were on the verge of tears when they saw the bride. I understand. When Kanon-san got married, I cried tears of joy as if my own family had gotten married.
When Aqua-san finished singing, a loud round of applause filled the venue. Aqua-san took the microphone, stood up, and delivered words of congratulations to the bride and groom.
”Congratulations on your marriage! Actually, I got married a little while ago too, and marriage is great. It makes you feel very happy.
Of course, I think there will be ups and downs if you’re together for a long time, but even if that’s the case, I think it will be fun with this person.
Well, I’m still a newlywed, so I don’t have much to say to you two… Just be grateful for each other as partners, respect each other, and savor this happiness.”
Continuing, Aqua-san explained the reason and circumstances for coming here and expressed gratitude to the staff as well. And… it didn’t end there.
”There is another reason why I came here today.”
Aqua-san said, causing a stir in the audience.
”For the people who sent me this letter, could I sing for them?”
Unspoken voices rose from the surprised audience. The bride and groom nodded emphatically.
”Actually, this song hasn’t been released anywhere yet. I have permission, but it’s a secret between me and everyone else, okay?”
Being an unreleased song, the venue was filled with the highest excitement of the day.
”I will sing ‘Carpe diem’.”
Behind Aqua-san, people arranged by the venue staff were standing by with instruments. They had already been given sheet music, and I had been informed that they had perfected it by today. The melancholic acoustic guitar intro blended with Aqua-san’s voice.
’I have to face this emotion, once and for all.’
My heart tightened from the beginning of the song.
’So, I take a step forward. I need to overcome this pain and move on.’
When I heard this song that Emily-san appeared in the PV for, I was slightly shaken.
’Layering blooming flowers over the passing days.’
This song reminded me of my past self, reflected my current self, and seemed to foretell my future self.
’Loving a single flower as if admiring seasons gone by.’
When I saw Kanon-san wearing a beautiful wedding dress, I thought she was purely beautiful.
’Watching a plucked flower, memories of that time resurface.’
But at the same time, a slight shadow fell on my heart. It wasn’t directed at Kanon-san, but it was a thorn towards myself.
’The love that once resided within me.’
What is this feeling inside me? It’s not envy or jealousy, but I wanted to know if this feeling had a name.
’My ignorant and innocent heart, sweetly tempted by the magic named temptation.’
I don’t know because I’ve never been in love.
’An extravagant ball, where I only concealed the surface with a dressed-up dress.’
Aqua-san is an idol, and I am an employee of the agency. He’s only 16, and I’m already 30, an old woman! For some reason, I repeated those words in my mind over and over again.
’I wish I could have deliberately dropped the glass slipper in front of you.’
No… I suppressed the urge to think strange thoughts. Even if it’s private, I have to focus on what’s in front of me.
’But I could only watch from afar.’
Is that really okay? For some reason, the words my mom said to me when I was young resonated within me.
When I was a child, I remember wanting something but holding back and saying I wanted something else.
At that time, I couldn’t really say what I truly wanted because I saw my mom struggling. Looking back now, I think the reason I worked in a black company with good pay was because of this.
’No, this is…! If I realize these feelings, I won’t be able to go back!!’
Ah… I flashback to the day I first met Aqua-san. The days I came home tired from work to an empty house, the days when work became busier and I had fewer chances to meet Kanon-san, Emily-san, and Kaede-san in real life.
Days where my heart wore down and I suffered, so exhausted that I didn’t even notice. It was Aqua-san, whom I met for the first time, who noticed that.
Naturally, unconsciously, Aqua-san gently stroked my head. Aqua-san, who stroked my head, said to me:
’Are you okay? If you’re tired, you can take it easy.’
I was surprised. I never thought that there would be someone who would worry about someone like me… Aqua-san later apologized, but it had been over ten years since someone… no, anyone had stroked my head.
And I, who had lost my mother and was in a situation where I couldn’t rely on anyone, was threwed by the words that I wanted to hear the most at me.
After that, I stayed in the cafe for a while. I think I couldn’t understand if it was really okay for me to be pampered by a younger boy. Above all, I didn’t know that I wanted to depend on someone so much.
’In the days filled with nothing but regret, I layer withering flowers.’
What am I saying? Even though he’s a younger boy…
’Like grieving over the seasons that pile up, I lament the final flower.’
The passing Aqua-san in the PV overlaps with the Aqua-san in front of me.
’If these feelings, piled up one after another, bear poison…’
Surely, Aqua-san will continue to have many loves and make many people happy.
’The love that once resided within me.’
But surely, I am not among them.
’If these emotions, accumulated over time, bear poison…’
But is that really okay?
’Before the clock chimes, I wish I could return, remaining in my soot-covered dress.’
Won’t I regret it later?
’I wish I could have ridden back in a pumpkin carriage before the clock strikes.’
The more I know, the more I fall in love.
’It was enough to watch from afar.’
After all, I can’t get anything just by watching from a distance. As a child, I saw kids of the same age who had what they wanted right in front of them, and I know that.
’The faint feelings I couldn’t tell anyone only torment me.’
This might be a tainted emotion that is closer to desire than love. I’m not a saint either. If my surface was peeled, what’s there is my instinct as a female.
’These feelings I was never informed of… it’s painful… I love you… I can’t endure it.’
I saw Kanon-san, who just got married, and she looked very happy.
’The fairy tale I heard in my childhood.’
I want to be loved too. Even if it’s just a little… Even if I have to give up everything, I will reach out to him, Aqua-san, if there is a possibility.
’Since I couldn’t become Cinderella, I’ll become the heroine.’
I can’t become Kanon-san. Because this is a story where I am not the protagonist. So I will become the protagonist who can only be me, and I will be with Aqua-san.
’I’m sorry. I was too timid to take a step forward.’
I have always given up on something like that. But the me until just now, the me now, the me who lost my mother, and the me who was exhausted at that time. I will face all of myself. It’s okay, I will take those emotions with me now!!
’The days when I loved someone are still in my heart. Now, let’s take that step forward, this time without regrets.’
When Aqua-san finishes singing, there is a great applause and cheers from the invited guests. This song, this performance, is Aqua-san’s cheer for everyone.
It is a miracle to be able to marry a man, as it was written in the letter. Many of the invited guests here have given up on marriage.
Looking at the guests, they are probably a little younger than me. It is the age at which many women give up on marriage.
That’s why they entrusted their feelings to their friends’ marriage because they themselves couldn’t. Aqua-san understood those feelings and delivered a song to the bride and groom.
But at the same time, Aqua-san said this to them in the second song.
”Don’t entrust your happiness to someone else!
The protagonist of your story is none other than you…!”
Strangely enough, those words hit me harder than anyone else.
”Thank you for your hard work!”
”Thank you so much for today!”
Everything ended, and I took Aqua-san back to the car, just like when we arrived at the venue.
[I will become Aqua-san’s bride.]
Before getting in the car, I sent a text message to Kanon-san.
[I thought so. Because Nee-san and I have the same type of boy we like.]
Hehe, Kanon-san is still a bit cheeky, as always. Well, because she knows me better than anyone else.
”Kirika-san? What’s wrong?”
The underground entrance of Aqua-san’s apartment building. I mustered up the courage and called out to Aqua-san as he was leaving.
”I like you, Aqua-san.”
When I casually said those words, Aqua-san had a surprised expression on his face, like a pigeon getting hit by a pea shooter.
”So be prepared. Even though I may not look like it, I’m the type to get what I want.”
The thing I really wanted but couldn’t get from my mom. I bought it with the money I earned as an adult. Yes, I remember now. That was my true nature. I will definitely get what I want. I will never give up.
So, just like Aqua-san declared war on the world, I declared war on Aqua-san.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.