Well, finally back. Don't expect fast releases, because work means a lot of time burned.
P.S: CC 2gud.
Chiaki then chased me out of the room, and I left the hotel right after. It was already late at night, and I was blown about by the strong winds weaving through the towering buildings that stank of exhaust. I crossed the overhead bridge, making my way towards the Suidobashi station. It took me a while before I realized the last train had already left a long time ago.
While standing distractedly at the end of the queue for the taxi, I thought about what Senpai and Chiaki had said. I recalled Mafuyu's unhappy expression as she puffed her cheeks.
Marriage...... me and Mafuyu? What does it mean...... to be married? Visiting the parents of our other half, and introducing them at a restaurant—but Ebichiri and Tetsurou already knew each other anyway. Then Mafuyu and I would get a house, where we'd live together. We'd move over...... prepare for our wedding, send out invitation cards—we'd have to invite a lot of people in the industry, especially when considering Mafuyu. Was that all?
When I finally calmed down, I realized my true feelings.
To be honest, it felt incredibly troublesome......
Two days later, Kagurazaka-senpai called me in the afternoon. I was at a studio in Shinjuku, splicing all the irritating samples into a tape loop. I mistook the ringtone as part of the sample, and it took me a while before I realized it was actually my phone.
"I got the appointment with Tooru for you. The meeting is...... thirty minutes from now."
"Wha......" I was rendered speechless for a moment, as the news had reached me very suddenly. Thirty minutes? It was incredibly noisy on the other side of the phone. I could hear the sounds of a train, so Senpai should be somewhere near a station or something.
"Sorry, I'm really busy too. I'm currently at the Nagoya station, and I have a rehearsal later."
"Ah—Sorry for having you call despite your busy schedule."
"In any case, he's only free from two-thirty to three."
"Urm, but...... I'm also in the middle of work right now. This is just too sudden......"
In any case, it seemed like Tooru Charlois was chairing an audition at a certain studio in Shinjuku. Upon further questioning, I realized he was actually in the building I was in. What a lucky break.
"All the best to you. And also......"
Senpai continued on quickly.
"I am really interested in that sonata, if it actually does exist. I like Kokonoe Hirofume as well!"
Senpai was the same as ever. She was great at spurring people on without much effort.
The audition was held in a huge studio in the basement. I did my best to finish my work within thirty minutes, then sprinted towards the lift. I brushed by several people with guitar cases on their backs as I made my way there.
"Hikawa? What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at studio C?"
One of the sound engineers whom I was acquainted with, saw me, so I hastily replied, "I'm looking for Mr. Tooru......" I ended up missing the control room, and to make matters worse, I stumbled straight into the main booth. I was dumbfounded when I saw rows and rows of guitar amplifiers, synthesizers and microphone stands. The thick soundproof door then shut itself behind me.
"Next! Eh? Where's his profile at? What's your name?"
A rough voice blared through the monitor speakers, causing me to turn towards the control room. I recognized Tooru Charlois right away. The bridge of his nose was unnaturally high for a Japanese, and his bronzed looks were nowhere close to appearing like a forty-year-old's. Despite having openly renounced his desire to perform on stage, he still emitted a dazzling aura that befit a main vocalist. It felt as though he could still easily attract enough fans to fill up the Nippon Budokan at any given time. [TLNote: wiki on Nippon Budokan here]
"Ah, urm...... Good afternoon, my name is Hikawa Naomi." Overwhelmed by his charisma, I began introducing myself meekly, before I even knew what I was doing.
"What are you gonna play? The keyboard? Play a rhythm track for him. Hey! Time's precious, so what are you standing there for? Don't you have the scores there?"
I stood before the power switch of the synthesizer and gazed at the chord chart in confusion. Accompanied by the demo track—which consisted of only the guitar, electric drums and vocals—I improvised a piece on the keyboard.
"Add in some harmony. Hum to the tune at the end of the song."
I did as I was told by Mr. Tooru, and leaned towards the microphone to hum the tune briefly. When I was done with my performance, his criticism came after a brief "che".
"That's some shitty technique! You should focus on singing and forget about the instruments! Let's continue...... Huh? You're ending like this?"
”Ah...... urm, pardon me!"
I shouted in a hurry when I saw Mr. Tooru turn his head towards the music director to discuss something.
"I'm not here for the auditions. Urm...... Kagurazaka Kyouko of feketerigó should have spoken to you about this. My name is Hikawa Naomi, and I'd like to speak with you for a while."
Mr. Tooru frowned and stared at me—it was almost like his gaze pierced the glass panel of the control room.
I was then made to wait outside for close to twenty minutes. I almost gave up, and thought of heading back to the studio to finish up my work. I might not be a professional keyboardist, but it was still pretty depressing to have producer Tooru Charlois criticize my keyboard skills.
Being the child of a famous personality in the classical music world—and at the same time, a mixed-blood—he reminded me of Mafuyu. However, Tooru Charlois chose a very different path from Mafuyu. He severed his relationship with his father completely, choosing to debut in the pop music scene at the age of nineteen. He has written lots of songs for various singers, and all of them have sold very well; but on the flip side, his band has undergone several member changes due to his uncompromising personality. He ended up announcing that he'd never get on stage again.
For a young gun like me, Tooru Charlois was a legend. My stomach hurt when I thought about having to talk to him in person—moreover, I'd be making a rather demanding request of him.
My legs didn't respond, even as the door opened before my eyes. Mr. Tooru stepped into the corridor, nodded towards the higher-ups of the record company and spoke a few words. When he was done, he stepped past me.
"Ah, pardon me! I'm really sorry for interrupting, but I have an appointment with you......"
Mr. Tooru clicked his tongue and shot me a glance as sharp as an owl's.
"I've already pretended to have forgetten about this, so can't you pretend to not have seen me?"
No way? What's with that unreasonable attitude of his? Having failed his pretense of missing my presence, Mr. Tooru resorted to childish tricks in an attempt to shake me off: there was the attempt where he tried to sneak away by asking me to get him a pack of cigarettes, or when he feigned a stomach ache and ran towards the elevator rather than the toilet. In the end, it seemed he had given up on trying to get away from me, as he finally sat down on the chair in the lounge.
"Sorry for making this demanding request, but I have something important to discuss with you."
I was shocked by how my words gradually became less and less formal. Come to think of it, this guy reminded me a little of Tetsurou. Oh yeah, Tetsurou did say, before, that he was acquainted with him......
"So what's up with Tetsurou? He used to follow me around, sniffing like a pig all the time. Yet, not too long ago, he disappeared all of the sudden."
Mr. Tooru lit a Marlboro as he said that.
"He said he was going to Poland, before disappearing without a trace."
"Oh? So you've followed his footsteps and walked the path of an irritating industry's ruffian? I thought it was strange that Kyouko was acting all sugary sweet over the phone...... Damn it!"
Looks like he really detests me, to the point that he'd burn me with his cigarette if given the chance to do so. What a pain...... But time was running out, so I had no option but to get to the point as carefully as I could.
"Urm...... You should know who Ebisawa Chisato and Professor Katase Ryouichi are...... right? They were both students of Mr. Kokonoe Hirofume—can you please stop that!? It burns!"
He really did shove the cigarette butt in my direction. Are you a kid?
"What? So you're from the College of Music? I don't want to hear anything about my Pops, so scram!"
"Do you...... hate your father...... that much?"
"I said I have no intention of listening any further, didn't I?"
Mr. Tooru stood up and was about to leave, but I sprang up and blocked his path.
"I just hope you'll allow Professor Katase to handle the items of Mr. Kokonoe! He's currently working on the works of Kokonoe Hirofume. You should have the key to the house in Meguro, right?"
"I have no intention of returning to that place, so god knows where I've left the keys! When we were working out the inheritance, the noble family and their opinions were a pain in the ass as well. I plan to raze that house down sometime soon, so stop mentioning that irritating family name!"
It took me a while to understand something.
So the reason Mr. Tooru chose to use "Charlois" as his family name...... was not because it was a stage name. Could "Charlois" be the family name of his mother? He hates the name "Kokonoe," so that's why......?
"Pop's works are nothing more than just trash, stuff that'll be forgotten as time passes on! Are those geezers at the College of Music so crappy they have to sink their claws into the old stuff?"
With that said, Mr. Tooru began making his way towards the elevator, so I grabbed his shoulder on reflex. Noticing my intentions, he turned around with a savage expression on his face.
"...... What do you think you're doing?"
"Urm, well...... pardon me, but......"
The calm part of me in my brain was whispering, "Stop! What the hell do you think you're doing!? He's a big-shot in the industry! Don't even think about surviving in this industry if you piss him off!"—and stuff like that. But I couldn't swallow what Mr. Tooru had said earlier.
Classical music was not about sinking our hands into old stuff.
"...... I heard...... the song you produced last month......"
Mr. Tooru's slightly-tanned and aged—but handsome—face cringed in skepticism. Behind him, his assistants and staff were all looking at us worriedly. But I continued on.
"The horn section during the huge finale—you took it from the main theme of Kokonoe Hirofume's <Yakushi Symphony>. I've listened to the unreleased album—a portion of it anyway. It's unlikely that you'd use the theme in loops if you weren't paying respect to a certain someone, don't you think?"
A huge sound echoed throughout the basement studio. The guys around us shuddered at the same time.
An ashtray flew towards me, away from the desk Mr. Tooru had kicked with all his might. The ashtray smashed into the ground and broke into pieces.
Under the fearful gaze of everyone, Mr. Tooru disappeared into the elevator. Everyone looked as if they had something to say, but none of them approached me. However, those words of mine—that were interrupted halfway—were still burning in my heart.
Music is not something that harasses someone endlessly. All it does is burn itself deep inside your soul, and remain there unforgotten. That's the power of music. Mr. Tooru should understand that as well, shouldn't he?
When I returned home that day, I put on my headphones and lay down beside my desk. I really regretted what I had done. What the heck was I doing? I actually pissed Tooru Charlois off. After learning what happened, a few of my friends offered me a few words of consolation, while others recommended I take a break from work and go on a spa holiday for a month. There was even a kind someone who introduced me to a writing gig for some porn magazine. I trudged back home in a depressed state, no thanks to all the heart-warming attacks I had received from everyone around me.
What should I do if I've really pissed him off and don't receive any job offers as a result? My highest qualification was only a high school education, and it wasn't like I had any other skills......
A long time had passed before I realized how late it was. My room was all dark, and it was Mafuyu who came in to turn on the lights.
"Sorry, I came here without asking since you weren't picking up my calls."
Mafuyu sat in seiza in front of the desk and lowered her head apologetically.
"Ah...... Nah, it's okay. I'm sorry I didn't notice."
"Did something bad...... happen at work?"
Eh? Was it that obvious?
"Because Naomi only listens to punk music when you're in a pinch!"
Explained Mafuyu, as she pointed at the CD case of Ramones. I didn't even notice that myself, only becoming aware of it when she pointed it out. Now that's embarrassing. It was as if I hadn't grown a single bit since high school. Actually, that does seem to be the case.
Suddenly, words of unease began leaking out of my mouth.
"I've pissed off an important person, so I may...... not be able to receive any more jobs in the future. So......"
It wasn't the time to talk about marriage yet. My work was incredibly unstable, and I was such an immature brat.
I couldn't help but think about stuff like that, despite the fact that Mafuyu had said nothing about marrying me just yet. However, Mafuyu replied.
"It's okay. I'll be the breadwinner then."
"Eh? Ah, no...... but....... is that okay?"
So she's okay with me being a house husband? I wasn't too comfortable with that idea. Preparing meals for Mafuyu and sending her off to work....... though, that wouldn't be too different from the way things were already.
"....... Can't we let our relationship...... stay the way it is?"
That was a pretty devastating sentence from me. Mafuyu's face reddened in an instant, but there was none of her usual harsh words. With her lips slightly trembling, she moved towards me while on her knees, and laid her cheeks on my thighs.
Her maroon hair slid into the space between my fingers. Even though I couldn't see her expression, I was still depressed by her refusal to look at me.
"Is my presence a bother to Naomi? Is it because there's nothing we can share between us?"
"W-What are you talking about? How can that be?"
Mafuyu lifted her misty eyes and glanced at me briefly, before lowering her head again, rubbing her cheeks against my thighs. We remained silent for a long time as we huddled up against each other.
Finally, I told her what had happened in the past few days. The request made by Ebichiri and Professor Katase, looking up Kokonoe Hirofume and his son Tooru Charlois, and that fascinating sonata as well. Mafuyu lifted her head slowly and listened intently to what I had to say.
When I was done, I passed Mafuyu the photocopied scores Professor Katase gave me.
"...... Can you play this for me?"
Mafuyu nodded, scanning through the notes on the score as she flipped the pages. She then murmured,
"This may be a score for a duet."
I see, it might be so indeed. Regardless of the instruments used, the bass portion was lacking for a sonata. However, if it was a piece that required four hands—a piece that required two to play the piano at the same time—then it all made sense.
Mafuyu sat before the electric piano and flexed her fingers a little. She then placed the score on the music stand and began hitting the keys at a slow tempo.
The inflowing piano was especially frustrating to listen to. The fugue lacked a counterpart, so the tune was forced to move forward endlessly without resolving any of the tension. The endearing melody was brutally fleeting, as though it were a dream that one saw on and off in his shallow sleep, but couldn't remember the details of after waking up. Mafuyu initially played the piece with only her right hand, but later in the piece, she extended her left hand out. The finely segregated notes were turning into glittering particles of light.
Halfway into the piece, the performance suddenly stopped. It felt like I was being strangled.
"I can't, this is impossible to play."
I directed my eyes towards the score. She can't play it? Is it difficult even for Mafuyu?
"I have absolutely no idea how the other half is written, so I have no clue how to play this portion either. That's why it is impossible to play."
I see. That was the sort of view you'd expect from a professional pianist. The portrayal of music isn't based solely on regurgitating what's written in the score. Now, I want to locate the complete score and listen to the piece in its entirety.
All of a sudden, a question appeared in my mind. For argument's sake, we'll assume this was a part...... but why a part?
If we were talking about a symphony, it'd be typical to create separate parts—based on the full score—for the different instruments, as the full score would consist of way too many instruments and individual staves, and could probably only accommodate four bars worth of notes per page. That'd be impractical to use for rehearsals. However, for the sonata in this score...... The modern definition of the term "sonata" is very different from what it used to mean—the current definition is used to describe a solo performance, or some light indoor music that employs a piano, as well as one or two other instruments. Therefore, using the full score shouldn't be too much of a hindrance. However, it was just as Mafuyu said, it was impossible to interpret the song fully without having seen the full score. [TLNote: From wikipedia, a part refers to the separate printed or manuscript copies of the music for each individual instrument in an ensemble or orchestra]
The problem is...... with the way things are right now, the door to Mr. Tooru is slammed shut. Kagurazaka-senpai had kindly hooked me up to him, and yet......
I dropped onto my bed in exasperation. Mafuyu sat next to me on the side of the bed and stared at my face.
"....... You're searching for the other parts of that piece, aren't you?"
"Yeah...... but I'm out of options now. I guess the only reason Ebichiri asked for my assistance was because he thought I had some connections with Mr. Tooru."
Unexpectedly, Mafuyu put on a sad expression.
"I would love to play the piece if you can complete it."
I sat up quickly in shock.
"Why...... because the completed work should be a pretty nice piece of music. I do like Kokonoe Hirofume as well."
I was surprised by Mafuyu's words. She said the exact same thing as someone else.
"You're saying the exact same things Senpai did......"
Right after I said that, I realized I made a mistake. Mafuyu's maroon hair flinched.
"Kyouko? When did you meet up with Kyouko?"
"Eh? Ah...... urm..... right after I accepted this request, so...... approximately two days ago?"
"They had just returned to Tokyo from Sapporo on that day, and they even held a concert at the Tokyo Dome that night. So how exactly did you manage to see her?"
Why do you know all the details? Are you keeping track of feketerigó's movement all the time?
"Urm...... she made some time for me, and told me to meet her in her room at midnight."
"At midnight!? And in her room too?"
"Ah! Well...... it wasn't just the two of us, of course! Chiaki was there too."
Why the hell am I digging my grave deeper and deeper?
"Sorry! Well...... It's not like I'm deliberately trying to hide it from you. It's just that I heard about the stuff that happened in Houston, so it's a little embarrassing to tell you what happened......"
"They even told you what happened in Houston!?"
Mafuyu's face was turning redder and redder, probably due to her recalling the sexual harassment Senpai committed against her back in Houston. She grabbed a pillow and began swinging it continuously at my face.
It was the sudden ringtone from my cellphone that saved me.
"Sorry...... Mafuyu, wait! It's a call from the producer, so stop...... shush."
I jumped away from my bed and ran next to the window before picking the call up.
"...... Yes, it's me. No no, I'm not sleeping yet, so it's okay...... Eh? Ah...... yeah...... right, right. About what happened in the afternoon, that was...... I don't know how to put it...... it's just...... Eh? What? Mr. Tooru said that? I see...... No no no, I'll accept the offer. Right...... no no no, of course. Okay, see you."
Mafuyu was confused as she watched me end the call while nodding my head repeatedly.
"What happened? Did he really cut away all job offers from you?"
"Urm, not really—"
In all honesty, I couldn't quite believe the conversation I just had either. I could only stare at my phone in a daze.
"I was....... offered a job. Tooru Charlois was the one who made the request."
It was just as Ebichiri had said when he asked me the question I scrambled to answer; I kept getting job offers that somehow came to me without me knowing why they did. The more popular job requests, though, were for my articles, samples, and music arrangement.
"Here are the sounds taken from the Chuo line; these are sounds from the Tokaido Shinkansen; and those are the sounds from a waterwheel cabin. Use the exhaust from the Harley as the bass, and Bartok's quartet as the background. Get me a loop running before eight!"
Right after I showed up at the studio, Mr. Tooru barked orders at me while pointing at the PC screen.
Does this guy here understand the amount of time required to fine-tune samples from non-musical instruments? And I pissed him off just yesterday, didn't I? Why's he seeking my service today? I was dying to ask these questions.
"Quit complaining! I'll pay you, so get your ass moving!"
Some of the audio engineers, as well as the artists who looked younger than me, flashed a wry smile in my direction. Seems like Tooru Charlois's unreasonable demands were not something new.
"Yes, I'll get to it right away."
I bowed, and did my best to put on a really apologetic expression as I sat myself down in front of the PC.
"Pardon me....... but aren't you angry?"
"Do I look like I'm not?"
I shrunk my neck.
"I brought you here to grant you the opportunity to apologize!"
That was so touching I was close to tears. For the next few hours, I was hounded by comments like, "That's not right" and "This won't do," coming from behind me, while also having my collar pulled from behind. I finally completed a rhythmic loop that consisted of the sounds of the trains, waterwheel, motorcycles and Bartok's quartet, all mashed up together. Who the hell came up with such a combination?
"Wow, Mr. Hikawa's abilities are for real! We'll be depending on you for our next album as well, okay?"
After listening to my finished work, the lead vocalist—who was in his teens—exclaimed that passionately, as he came over to shake my hand. However— "I hope we can use the samples from the right-wing's propaganda vans, as well as the sirens from the American base, in our next project!" It's best you guys scrap that idea of yours, yeah?
That night, Mr. Tooru invited me to a pub in Shinjuku for a beer. To make things worse, it was just me and him alone. Silent films, from way back, played on the huge screen, while jazz, performed by a large ensemble, gently played on the stereos. It was quite a snazzy bar.
"Urm, well...... thanks....... a lot for today."
"Thanks for...... offering me the job."
Mr. Tooru gave a hmmph as he allowed a shot of Bourbon to flow down his throat.
"You graduated from the College of Music?" That was sudden.
"N-Nah, I only have high school qualifications."
"Really? So how'd you know about the alto clef then?"
"Cause you have to know how to read the orchestra scores when you're doing critiques....... So that means Mr. Tooru can read the alto clef as well? That's surprising!"
Alto clef was not a musical notation that you'd learn about in typical music lessons in school. I gradually got used to it only when I began dictating the viola parts when I was adjusting different audio sources.
"I was forced to learn it by my Pops. He'd force me to sit in front of the piano when I was done with school, and he'd beat me up if I stop practicing, even just a little."
"Ah, I see......"
"Even before he forced me to learn the piano, he did the same to my Ma as well. My Ma had never touched the piano prior to knowing him! Pops got to know my Ma at the hospital when he was receiving treatment in France, though she was just a patient as well. I heard the geezers and hags from the Kokonoe family got into a huge quarrel with him since they opposed the marriage."
"Why...... is that so?"
"Well, they'd nitpick about stuff like how my Ma was a foreigner, how her body was frail and how she couldn't ever conceive, stuff like that. Those are the kind of thoughts you'd come to expect from the moldy brains of those old people. Before, Pops had no intention of getting married, despite the fact he was past the age of forty, so the noble family had their eyes set on some suitable candidates, and even arranged for a few match-making sessions. Guess the family opposed the marriage 'cause all their efforts had gone to waste?"
That was just over ten years ago; such practices still existed back then...... I guess, even to this very day, there are still families who are prissy about stuff like that.
"The reason Pops and Ma had me, and the reason Pops made her learn the piano, was so he could get approval from the family. Or at least, that's what my grandpa and grandma said."
Proof that she was essential to him, whether as his wife or his musical partner—but was it really necessary to get approval from his parents for stuff like that?
"Ma died when I was in elementary school, so it turned into a situation where I was forced to sit before the piano. To that person, we were nothing but musical instruments."
I could say nothing in reply to that, so I took a gulp of the bitter cocktail instead.
However...... if that was the case, then why did Mr. Tooru pay respect to the song composed by Kokonoe Hirofume? Actually, let's not bring up that point just yet—why did Mr. Tooru step into the world of music in the first place?
Mr Tooru downed his whiskey in a large gulp, and slammed the glass on the table.
"Do you enjoy taking the trains?"
Another question out of the blue. I turned around and stared at the side profile of Mr Tooru's face, defined clearly by crisp lines.
"...... Not really. I don't like the crowds."
"Me too. But if the sounds of the train were suitable for work, then you'd use them, right?"
I was speechless.
"Urm...... So...... You offered me a job just to tell me that?"
"How could that be!?"
Mr. Tooru elbowed me in my side.
"You honestly have no clue, do you? You know what, I hate people like you as well—people who lack the brains, who are related to a bunch of people from the College of Music, and who just keep pushing themselves onto others. But I've decided to use you, since you're good with the synthesizers. That's all."
I see. That was incredibly depressing. I couldn't even let out a sigh.
"I know that what I'm doing is no different from my what Pops did. This is just disgusting."
So, Kokonoe Hirofume didn't love his wife and saw her only as a human instrument—that didn't sound right. It was just weird. His wife didn't even know how to play the piano before she met him, did she?
And things didn't make sense from Mrs. Kokonoe's perspective either. If things were as Mr. Tooru had said, then why did she cross the oceans to follow that man to Japan, and even decide to marry him? Moreover, all of the relatives in his family opposed the marriage, so why the insistence?
While I was pondering the issue, Mafuyu's depressed expression showed itself again and again in my head.
Why do people get married?
"Well, because...... our wallets will merge into one when we're married, so the cash I owe her will all disappear! You can't do that if you're just going out with her, can you?"
Those are the first words my dad Tetsurou—whom I haven't seen in a long while—said to me when he finally returned to Japan.
"You're just trash...... How much did you borrow off Misako?"
"Don't know. Somewhere around two million?"
"Two million? You borrowed two million back when you were just a college student?"
"Oh well, it's not a lot of cash......"
"How's that 'not a lot'!? Do you know how long two million would last me if I used it to pay the rent for this apartment?"
"Oh yeah, are you planning to move away? Daddy wants to live in a landed property with a courtyard!"
Tetsurou lay on my bed and stretched himself as he took a sip of his canned coffee, scanning the four meter-square room.
"Lil Mafuyu should command a sizeable salary, so how about a house in Tokyo? You'll have to first decide how many children you're planning to have in the future!"
"That's not something you have to worry about, so shut it!"
Why are you worrying about stuff like that in my stead?
"I may turn into a senile old man, so you'll have to have a room prepared to look after old geezers like me. Also, make sure Mafuyu wears a nurse outfit as well!"
You're already a senile middle-aged man, aren't you? Tetsurou's supposed to be the same age as Ebichiri, so why does he forever act like a scrappy student who keeps failing his entrance exam?
"And Misako, why on earth did she wed you...... Ah, so that she can chase after your debts?"
"How rude! We swore to live together till death because we loved each other!"
"Then why the divorce!?" How's that living together till death!?
"So when are you making your vows? Don't invite me to your wedding ceremony! Those long-winded people from the College of Music will definitely be there as well......"
"Nah...... I'm not planning to hold a wedding ceremony."
I turned towards the desk; my blank gaze floated towards the laptop screen. I had no idea how to reply to that. Why? I'd love to know the answer myself.
"....... Why is marriage necessary? Mafuyu hasn't even told me outright that she wants to get married. Why is everyone acting like I'm committing some heinous crime if we don't get married?"
There was a sudden snicker. Turning my head around, all I could see was Tetsurou's shoulders trembling nonstop as he sat cross-legged on my bed.
"Because it has to be you who pops the question!"
"Yeah, the guy has to do the proposing. What a silly practice—"
"It's not just a practice! There are actual valid reasons to it. I was the one who proposed marriage to Misako as well!"
"So you took the initiative and said, 'Let's erase all of my debts after our marriage!' Was that it? Really?"
My dad was undoubtedly the worst person on earth.
"Yeah! That's a must. Just...... I don't think you understand right now, do you?"
The way he put it was just infuriating. It sounded like I was still just a kid in his eyes.
However...... I may have been an ignorant brat all this time. At the very least, Tetsurou had gone through this before. Therefore, I couldn't retort despite my desire to. Come to think of it, Kagurazaka-senpai said something similar too.
"In any case, it's love!"
"The love you're talking about is erasing all the debts you owe?"
"Lil Nao, there are many different facets to love! You'll understand it sooner or later. It was the same for that Kokonoe as well! Do you have any idea how many relatives he had? There was enough for three orchestras! Moreover, all of them came from well-to-do families as well. I saw the scene where his relatives were all gathered at his funeral—the atmosphere might've been enough to scare the dead back alive! He chose his wife despite the strong opposition from his parents, his grandparents and his numerous aunts and uncles. Do you have any idea how much resolve was required to do that?"
Tetsurou then walked towards the sound system and took out one of Mr. Big's album from the cabinet. Eric Martin's hoarse voice was accompanied by choppy sounds of the orchestra.
<Nothing but Love>.
Love...... was something that I thought only appeared in the lyrics of songs. And when that word sppeared in a conversation between me and my father—honestly, it's a little disgusting.
"Oh right, you know anything about Kokonoe's wife, Tetsurou?"
I didn't have the slightest clue about her. All I knew was that her name was Rosary Charlois, and that was something I came to know of only recently.
"Nope, I don't. His wife was already dead when I met Kokonoe. Tooru never talks about his mother either, right? The only option left is the relatives of the Kokonoe family."
I sank deep into thought. During this period of time, Tetsurou opened my fridge without my permission and downed a whole bottle of sake by himself. After kicking him a few times and yelling at him, I finally made my request—
To have him introduce me to the publisher of the music magazine.