Oh yeah Tomo, you're the man. As long as it's cute, just hit it!
"And so, how are things going on between you and Mafuyu right now?"
Yuri raised his voice in an attempt to make himself heard amid the noise of the crowded livehouse. It was pretty noisy here despite the fact that we were in the middle of a break — the heated discussions among the audience and the tuning of the stereo systems were all contributors to the noise.
"Lots of things happened during the live performance at the school festival, isn't that so?"
Sitting opposite of me was a young girl with blonde hair and blue eyes...... or not — he was actually a young male violinist. He stretched his body towards me and pulled his face closer to mine. A turtle-neck sweater paired with a matching red short-coat, plus a pair of denim shorts and over-knees socks. Mmm, that attire was perfectly fine for a guy...... no wait, that wasn't it, yeah? I pressed my palm against my forehead and sighed. I then asked,
"Look, why are you here, Yuri?"
There was a really interesting performance Sunday afternoon, so I came down to the livehouse <Bright> by myself. And then I bumped into this guy here.
"Shouldn't you be busy with the recordings and rehearsals? Your performance is coming up soon."
"Do you hate to see me?"
Quit holding onto my hands tightly and looking at me with those tearing eyes of yours when you're asking me that question, okay? It was really attention grabbing. Shit, this will invite misunderstandings.
"H-How can that be? I'm really glad to meet you."
Yuri's face brightened up in an instant.
"Thank goodness, I really wanted to see Naomi again as well. Tomo mailed me saying there would be Naomi's favorite live performance happening today, so there was a high chance of you showing up here."
DJ Tomo? Since when did they get on such good terms?
"I blame it all on Naomi. You refuse to call me because you and Mafuyu are doing very well together."
"N-No, e-eh?" How much does he know?
"I've heard lots of stuff from Mafuyu, but I'm not telling you what I heard."
Oh right, this guy here will be doing his next album together with Mafuyu, so he might actually be spending more time with her than I was. Though it was unexpected of Mafuyu to say all those things to Yuri.
"It's not like things are all smooth-sailing."
"But both of you confessed to each other already, did you not?"
"N-No?" Both of us?
"You never asked Mafuyu about her feelings?"
Yuri was rendered speechless for a long while.
But that was really the case.
I came into contact with Mafuyu's heart briefly during the school festival. I had a feeling she was staying by my side with the exact same reasons as I was, but that was all there was to it. We would be tongue-tied whenever we would see each other's face.
"Look, Naomi. I really hope you can understand how painful it is for me whenever I hear Mafuyu talking about you happily."
"H-Hmm?" Happily? That Mafuyu?
"I'll steal her away from you if you do not become decisive any time soon, you know?"
Yuri rested his elbows on the table and pulled his face even closer towards mine. My head was in a fluster when he said that with that tiny mouth of his at such a close distance away from me, so I backed away subconsciously.
Even if you ask me to be decisive...... (come to think of it, what was he referring to?) I have no idea what Mafuyu's answer would be, so I dared not pop the question.
Yuri slumped onto the table all of a sudden and began kicking his legs about. He seemed frustrated.
"...... What's wrong with you?"
"I'm about to die, all thanks to Naomi's indecisiveness."
So you could kill someone with your indecisiveness — now that was something new. Just as I was thinking that, Yuri sat up suddenly and pressed both of his hands on my shoulders.
"Actually, it's really simple. All you have to do is this."
"I love you. I want Naomi's everything."
"Who the hell can say that? I'm not French!"
Wait, did he just say Naomi? Was it just a mistake on my part?
"Most of the Japanese are braver than Naomi!"
"What are you two doing here?"
A voice came from behind us suddenly. I turned around and saw a stout silhouette with a green baseball cap on his head and a beaten-up leather coat hanging from his shoulders. It was DJ Tomo.
"I never expect Yuri and Nao to be here. You two get along really well."
What was even more surprising was the person who appeared behind Tomo. It was a guy wearing a fierce expression, his long hair covered up by a bandanna — the guitarist Furukawa Taisei. Both of them were Kagurazaka-senpai's friends, and also regulars of <Bright>. So they actually knew each other too — what a small world this was.
"Tomo!" Yuri jumped off from his seat and hugged the tanned DJ. "Thank you for the ticket!"
"No biggie, I ask for nothing in return. Well, aside from you spending a night with me." You do know Yuri's gender, don't you?
"So you're here as well."
Said Furukawa as he sat down next to me and clamped the guitar that was originally on his back between his knees.
"Are you performing later, Furukawa?" I asked timidly. He was not here as audience, was he? I am really not good with dealing with him. You're asking me to watch the performance together with him? Please spare me from that.
"They asked me to support the six-o'clock performance." I heaved a sigh of relief when I heard the answer from Furukawa.
"Taisei knows Nao too?" Tomo sat next to Yuri.
"I told you already, didn't I? I performed with Kyouko's band."
Furukawa's temper was short, as usual.
"Who's she? Is she replacing you as the bassist?"
Yuri tilted his head in response when Furukawa pointed at him. Furukawa would ask me to quit the role as feketerigó's bassist whenever we would meet.
"That girl looks to be a better player than you are, and she's much more striking visually."
"Do I look like a bassist?" Yuri's eyes were glittering.
"It's obvious from your fingers. You should be playing the guitar or the bass, yeah?"
Impressive. He knew just by looking at the fingers. But he did not realize Yuri's actual gender, right? Idiot. I retorted in my mind as a tiny sense of superiority crept in me.
"Me taking over Naomi's position? What a good idea. I've never thought of that."
"No no no, what are you talking about?" You'll be busy with your work, won't you?
"If you quit and get her into the band, I'll introduce you guys to a producer," said Furukawa. Hey, Yuri, why are you putting on such a gleeful expression?
"U-Urm, Furukawa, you've got it all wrong. This person here's a violinist, an old friend of Mafuyu's."
"I know how to play the guitar too! I can practice on the bass too if I want to."
Don't you interrupt, Yuri! Things will just get even more confusing!
"And since I'm the one who taught Mafuyu the guitar, our timbres should match each other really well."
"You? Taught that girl?"
Yuri nodded lightly as he cowered in his seat in fear. What was wrong, Furukawa? That look of yours is really scary.
"Who did you learn the guitar from?"
"No one...... Urm, I memorized it by watching the videos of Jeff Beck and stuff."
"It's best for you and that girl to re-learn the correct fingering techniques."
Said Furukawa as he pressed his fingertip against Yuri's nose. Yuri was rendered speechless from his shock. Tomo and I interrupted Furukawa at the same time.
"H-Hey, Taisei, what's wrong?"
"Is there anything wrong with Mafuyu's fingering techniques?"
"I should have said this before," Furukawa shot a fierce glance at me, "There will be no future to her style of playing. She's placing too much stress on her wrist."
Now that he has mentioned it, Furukawa did say something along that line after the end of the live concert.
"What d-do you mean by placing too much stress?" I pushed my elbows against the table and stretched my body over the table subconsciously. Mafuyu might be able to move her right hand already, but I was still worried.
"She's using her wrists forcibly to strum the strings at high speeds to compensate for the lack of strength in her fingers. It's surprising she managed to play through the whole performance like that."
"Eh? Ah, no, but, her fingers are movable already."
Oh? Furukawa lifted his eyebrow.
"Then it's none of my business...... it pisses me off whenever I see that silly fingering technique of hers. You should put some effort in learning before you teach others, yeah?" His fierce gaze was shifted from my body to Yuri. Yuri flinched and grabbed onto my arm in fear.
"Why don't you teach Yuri then?" joked Tomo.
"Do I look like I have the time to do that!?"
"Yuri's not in any band, right? How about performing together with me next time? Taisei and I will be forming a band for our next live performance, so are you interested in joining us on stage? You can get Taisei to teach you at the studio."
"Hey, Tomo, don't go about deciding things on your own for the sake of your desires!" Furukawa gave Tomo a hard kick beneath the table.
"But this person here's really talented in guitar. Taisei, you can teach him the correct guitar techniques, while I'll be in charge of teaching him the techniques in bed." I gave Tomo a kick as well.
"When's the next performance?" Hey, Yuri! You don't have to be that enthusiastic about it!
"Twenty-fourth the next month. The event is named <Snow Crash>. And since that's Christmas eve, we'll be holding it in a spacious place that can accommodate five-hundred people."
Yuri knitted his eyebrows.
"I will probably be attending a party somewhere, but I'll skip that since I'm not interested."
"The event will start at noon. We'll be left alone at night. You know, making use of the opportunity to get all intimate and stuff."
"Mmm, I see. But I don't think I'll have the time to make it down to the studio. Sorry."
"But of course! Don't take his words for real, man!" Furukawa snapped.
"What a pity. I've found a song which will make even Yuri burn. It's a Christmas song by a French composer. Urm, forgot his name. Ho-Hon—"
Said Yuri and I at the same time. We turned our heads to look at each other.
A Christmas song. Then it was most likely <Une Cantate de Noël>, the last work of his. It was a very dramatic cantata, but barely known in Japan. I'm surprised he found that. Yuri's legs were swinging about beneath the table.
"Wow! I wanna listen!"
Honegger should be a well-known composer outside of Japan because of his music appearing in many movies. It looks like Tomo was hooked on classical music ever since I asked him to help me with the editing of the piano concerto and the violin concerto. Playing Honegger's piece on Christmas at a live house — now he got me interested as well.
"So you knew about Honegger as well, Naomi? That's impressive. I was really sad since I never have heard Mafuyu mentioned him. I thought he was not well known in Japan."
"It can't be helped. Mafuyu's interest lie in the works from East Germany."
But it was true that Honegger was not too well known in Japan.
"Isn't that nice? I never thought I'll get to listen to Honegger's works live here. I am really interested in listening to how the arrangements will be."
"It shouldn't be a problem for you if you attend the concert as an audience, yeah? I'll give you a ticket."
"Mmm, I'll try to free up my schedule......"
Yuri's really lucky, I thought to myself in envy.
A music concert on Christmas eve.
Isn't that just perfect?
No wait. Wouldn't that be too straightforward? I think my intentions would be clear for all to see. No wait, isn't that okay? I mean, that was what I have intended to do all this while, isn't it? What was there to be afraid of at a time like this?
Filtering out the noise from the livehouse, I sank deep into thought. I regained my senses only when I was slapped by someone on the cheeks.
"Naomi? What's wrong?"
Unknown to me, Yuri was next to me, his palms and that cute face of his appearing right before my eyes. I almost fell backwards and slipped off my chair. Eh? Strange? Where was Furukawa?
"Taisei's about to hit the stage, so he went in," Tomo put on an exasperated expression, "It's about time for me to move the instruments as well, so you two enjoy yourselves."
"Ah, h-hold on a second, Tomo."
I leapt off my chair and dashed towards the tall and tanned DJ. The baseball cap turned around.
"About the Christmas concert. Do you guys sell advance tickets? I'd like to buy two."
Tomo tilted his head.
"We do. Are you coming along with Yuri? I'll be charging you for the tickets."
"N-Nah, that's not it."
I could feel the Yuri's gaze on my face just as I was about to blurt out my intentions, and that caused me to fluster.
"I'll pay for two tickets. Not with Yuri, but with someone else."
"Ahh, I see. Another girl? Nao's a real flirt."
"I think so too. Naomi should practice some abstinence."
"Yuri, you'll not find any happiness if you're together with a guy as useless as him. You should get someone better."
"But you know, encounters are just like traffic accidents. Can't be helped, I have no one but myself to blame for bumping into a dummy like Naomi."
All I wanted to do is to buy two tickets, so why were they speaking about me like this? I felt like crying.
"Who will you invite? ...... Mafuyu?"
Yuri pulled his face next to mine and whispered into my ears. I could not bring myself to look at him straight in the eyes, so I directed my gaze towards the stage and nodded. I'll give her Honegger's record as her birthday present — I should be able to find one in Tetsurou's collection. And with that, I'll have an excuse to ask her out on Christmas eve. Though I was not sure if she'll agree to it.
Just then, Yuri stomped hard on my foot.
"What the heck are you doing!?"
"There is no need for you to make the huge revelation right to my face, do you? You should consider my feelings as well!"
"You are the one who wants me to decide as quickly as I can— Oww, it hurts!" He actually drilled his heel hard onto my foot!
"I did say it, yeah!" Yuri was throwing a tantrum like a child, "I never expect you to get a pair of tickets for a concert on Christmas eve! That's so unlike Naomi!"
"Well sorry for that! Then again, I'm not sure if she would be willing to attend it together with me......"
"How could she possibly decline you!?"
"I-Is that so?"
"The live concert will end at five, so you'll be going on a date after that? Are you planning to head down to Disneyland? God damn it, who's the girl? Can't be Kyouko, right?" asked Tomo.
"If it's me, I won't be interested in Disneyland. I'll head straight to the hotel instead," said Kagurazaka-senpai.
— Wait a second. Ehhhhhhhhhh!?
A tall silhouette appeared behind Tomo's gigantic body suddenly. She was wearing a miniskirt despite it being the end of November (although it was a cashmere one), that revealed the curves of her legs generously. Her belly button could be seen faintly between the knitted jacket and the miniskirt. Kagurazaka-senpai did not braid her hair today. Instead, she allowed them to flow naturally behind her back — that made her look even more mature than usual.
"Sen...... pai? Why are you here?"
"Why? I'm here to attend the concert since Taisei and Tomo will be performing. What a coincidence. I would have invited you along should I know you'll be attending as well. Then again......"
Kagurazaka-senpai moved in towards me and hooked my arm with a sensual smile on her face. I could not run away despite the shock I was experiencing.
"This coincidence further confirms the invisible bonds we have between us. I'm really happy."
"Eh? H-Haa, no, wait."
My mind was in a mess. I could not even shake off Senpai's hand that she was using to caress me softly on my chin.
"You could have told me yesterday if you're coming down. I could have given you a lift here."
"Tomo's car is filled with musical instruments, isn't that so? I am not interested in getting squished by the sampler and the mixer while we're bumping along the idyllic trails."
"No worries, I've tidied up the boot recently so that I could make space at the co-driver's seat for Kyouko."
"And whenever Tomo drives past a hotel, you'd ask me things like 'Which do you prefer? A rest or a stay overnight?' and so on. That's sexual harassment, you know? I've already decided I'll be sitting only by the side of the one whom I love."
Senpai hugged me tightly by my arm as they carried on with their crazy conversation.
"No, but this guy here said not too long ago that he'll be spending Christmas eve with another girl—"
"Oh right. I hope you can be clear about this," Senpai placed her hands on my shoulders and turned me towards her.
Why does she want to know? Senpai burned my eyes with that passionate gaze from her slightly teary eyes. I had no option but to turn my head to seek assistance.
"...... Naomi's a real flirt."
Muttered Yuri as he hid closely behind me. What the heck!? Why are you saying that as well?
Just then, the force that was applied on my shoulders by Senpai's hand disappeared all of a sudden.
Senpai snapped her head, her eyes opened wide as her gaze travelled past my shoulders to the area behind me. It seemed like Senpai had just noticed Yuri's presence, in no small reason due to the noise of the livehouse as well as Yuri's small stature.
The name flowed out from Senpai's lips. I was totally suppressed by her aura, so I turned my body aside. After exchanging sights with Senpai, Yuri nodded his head in confusion.
One step, two. Senpai moved in towards Yuri. I thought she would grab him by his hands, but I never expect her to cup Yuri's tiny face with her hands. Hey! I retorted in my mind, but I could not say anything. That was because both of them were enveloped in some sort of weird, strange-colored atmosphere. The noise around us seemed to die down in an instant.
"There's a saying that goes, '二度あることは三度ある'. I heard it's from a French saying. Is that true?" [TLNote: I think if you are to put it literally, it's something along the lines of 'a third incident will follow after the second one'.]
I could hear Senpai very clearly despite her soft murmuring. What was the point of her saying that all of a sudden?
Yuri's face went burning red as he blinked in response.
"Jamais deux sans trois." [TLNote: I think it means 'never two without three' literally.]
He replied softly in French.
"Mmm. Just one year ago, I thought I would never be attracted to another guy for the rest of my life. I never thought that my second will appear that simply before me."
For some unknown reason, Senpai directed her sight briefly towards me when she said that, but she turned back to Yuri quickly.
"And I never expect my third to come so soon."
"Huh?" Yuri blinked his large, shiny eyes repeatedly. "I don't quite understand what you mean. I am not too good with Japanese."
"Meaning to say, this is my declaration of love."
I subconsciously tugged Senpai by the back of her collar. "What do you think you're doing to someone whom you're seeing for the very first time?"
"The opposing nation's a strong one, plus our nation is weak when it comes to scoring points. So as a representative of Japan, I think it's best for me to go all out right from the beginning."
"What's the meaning of that? And please don't declare yourself as our representative! You'll be the shame of Japan, so stop that!"
"Urm, but I have two people in my heart already," said Yuri.
"That's okay. I had three, though it has just increased to four."
Said Senpai gently as she combed her fingers through Yuri's silky blonde hair.
"Wouldn't it make you look dishonest if the numbers are to keep increasing?"
"I'm not adding them just on a whim. I'll be dishonest to myself should I not admit that I am attracted to you. And a person like that would never be honest to others as well."
What, you guys are actually striking off a conversation just like that? That was unbelievable. Me alone was no longer enough to play the Tsukkomi, so I turned my head around to seek help from Tomo, but the tanned DJ had somehow disappeared. I looked around in a fluster, and when I located him on the stage, he was waving the baseball cap in his dark hards and saying, "Do your best!". Damn that bastard, he sneaked away and left me alone by myself!
"I think it's better if you direct half of the enthusiasm you have right now to Naomi."
Yuri flashed a mischievous smile in the arms of Senpai.
"You're right, I do agree. Young man...... ah—"
"I'll be offering half of my enthusiasm to you."
Why could I do nothing else but to allow my jaws to drop agape? I could not say anything despite that thought of mine. It has almost been a year since I met Senpai, and I've learned quite a number of things as well. In response, I grabbed Yuri by his shoulders and pulled him away from Senpai.
"Are you jealous, Naomi?"
"Don't you start talking rubbish as well!"
"We should be the ones who are jealous, isn't that so?"
Senpai pulled herself behind Yuri and whispered.
"That's right. So that means we are enemies."
How did both of them manage to converse normally? I really don't get it. You two might as well go on and on forever. Just as Yuri was turning around to look eye-to-eye with Senpai once more, the spotlights of the livehouse were suddenly extinguished. All that was left were the bluish white spots from the disco ball dancing across the audience.
Before I knew it, my feet were already soaked by the deep and heavy discord played by the synthesized strings, and the water levels were rising higher and higher. My arms, my chest, my neck; my whole body was engulfed by the strings amid the dark livehouse. The stage lasers were flashing on the stage. As the crowd went wild, the guitarist and the vocalist's silhouette were imprinted against the darkness like the shadows of the thunderclouds. But despite the cheers and the crazy drumming, I could hear clearly the words Yuri said to Senpai.
"— My enemy, may I know your name?"
As well as Senpai's reply.
"Kagurazaka Kyouko. The revolutionary of love."