Oh yeah Tomo, you're the man. As long as it's cute, just hit it!
"So, how are things going between you and Mafuyu right now?"
Yuri raised his voice in an attempt to make himself audible over the noise of the crowded live house. Despite the fact that we were in the middle of a break, it was still pretty noisy because of the heated discussions of the audience and the tuning of the stereo systems.
"Lots of things happened during the live performance at the school festival, isn't that right?"
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 moved his face close to mine. A turtleneck sweater, paired with a matching red short coat, and a pair of denim shorts and over-the-knee socks. Mmm, that attire is perfectly fine for a guy...... No wait, that's not right, yeah? I pressed my palm against my forehead and sighed, then asked,
"Look, why are you here, Yuri?"
There was a really interesting performance Sunday afternoon, so I went down to the live house Bright by myself. And there, I bumped into this guy.
"Shouldn't you be busy with the recordings and rehearsals? Your performance is coming up soon."
"Do you hate seeing me?"
Don't hold my hands tightly and look at me with those teary eyes of yours when you ask me that, okay? It was really attention-grabbing. Shit, this'll invite misunderstandings.
"H-How can that be? I'm really glad I met you here."
Yuri's face brightened up in an instant.
"Thank goodness, I really wanted to see Naomi again as well. Tomo mailed me telling me Naomi's favorite live performance would be taking place today, so there was a high chance you would be here."
DJ Tomo? When did he and Yuri get on such good terms with each other?
"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 have heard lots of things from Mafuyu, but I am not telling you what I heard."
Oh right, this guy here is recording his next album together with Mafuyu, so he might actually be spending more time with her than I am. Though it was a bit unexpected that Mafuyu would tell Yuri all those things.
"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 while.
But that was really the case.
I briefly came into contact with Mafuyu's heart during the school festival; and I had a feeling she was staying by my side for the exact same reason I was staying by hers. But that was all there was to it. After that, we became tongue-tied whenever we saw each other's faces.
"Look, Naomi. I really hope you can understand how painful it is for me to hear Mafuyu talk about you happily."
"H-Hmm?" Happily? That Mafuyu?
"I will steal her away from you if you do not become decisive any time soon, you know?"
Yuri rested his elbows on the table and brought his face even closer. My head was in a fluster when he said that with that tiny mouth of his at such a close distance away from me. I backed away unconsciously.
Even if you ask me to be decisive...... (come to think of it, what's he even referring to?) I had no idea what Mafuyu's answer would be, so I didn't dare ask 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 am about to die, thanks to Naomi's indecisiveness."
So you can kill someone with your indecisiveness—now that's something new. While I was thinking that, Yuri suddenly stood up and put his hands on my shoulders.
"Actually, it is 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 suddenly came from behind us. I turned around and saw the stout silhouette of someone with a green baseball cap on his head and a beaten-up leather coat slung over his shoulder. It was DJ Tomo.
"I never expected Yuri and Nao to be here. You two get along really well."
What was even more surprising though, was the person that appeared behind Tomo. He was wearing a fierce expression on his face, and his long hair was being covered up by a bandanna—it was the guitarist Furukawa Taisei. Both of them were Kagurazaka-senpai's friends, and also regulars at Bright. So they actually knew each other too—what a small world this is.
"Tomo!" Yuri jumped 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, right?
"So you're here as well."
Said Furukawa, as he sat down next to me, clamping the guitar that was originally on his back between his knees.
"Are you performing later, Furukawa?" I asked timidly. He's not here as part of the audience, is he? I'm really not good with dealing with him, and you're asking me to watch the performance together with him? Please spare me from that.
"They asked me to help with the six o'clock performance." I heaved a sigh of relief when I heard that from Furukawa.
"Taisei knows Nao too?" Tomo sat down 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 to Furukawa pointing at him. Whenever we met, Furukawa would always ask me to quit as feketerigó's bassist.
"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 looking at your fingers. You play either the guitar or the bass, yeah?"
Impressive. He deduced that just by looking at his fingers. But he hasn't figured out Yuri's actual gender, right? Idiot. I retorted him in my mind as a tiny sense of superiority crept up inside me.
"Me taking over Naomi's position? What a good idea. I had never thought of that."
"No no no, what are you talking about?" You'll be busy with work, right?
"If you quit and have her join the band, I'll introduce you guys to a producer," said Furukawa. Hey, Yuri, why do you have such a gleeful expression on your face?
"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! And I can learn the bass if I want to."
Don't interrupt, Yuri! Things will just get even more confusing!
"And since I am the one that taught Mafuyu how to play the guitar, our timbres should match really well."
"You taught that girl?"
Yuri nodded lightly as he cowered in his seat in fear. What's wrong, Furukawa? That look of yours is really scary.
"Who did you learn the guitar from?"
"No one...... Urm, I learned by watching videos of Jeff Beck and stuff."
"It'd be best if you and that girl relearned the correct fingering technique."
Said Furukawa, as he pressed his fingertip against Yuri's nose. Yuri was shocked speechless. Tomo and I interrupted Furukawa at the same time.
"H-Hey, Taisei, what's wrong?"
"Is there something wrong with Mafuyu's fingering technique?"
"I told you before"—Furukawa shot a fierce glance at me—"there'll be no future for her with her current style of playing. She's placing too much stress on her wrist."
Now that he mentions it, Furukawa did say something along that line after our live performance back in summer.
"What d-do you mean by 'placing too much stress'?" I unconsciously pushed my elbows down on the table and stretched my body over it. Mafuyu might've been able to move her right hand already, but I was still worried.
"She's using her wrists to forcibly strum the strings at high speeds to compensate for the lack of strength in her fingers. It's surprising that she managed to play through the whole performance like that."
"Eh? Ah, no, but, her fingers can move now."
Oh? Furukawa lifted his eyebrow.
"Then it's none of my business...... It just pisses me off when I see that silly fingering technique of hers. You should put some effort into learning before you teach others, yeah?" His fierce gaze shifted from me to Yuri. Yuri flinched and grabbed 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 a band, right? How about performing together with me next time? Taisei and I will be forming a band for our next live performance. You interested in joining us on the stage? You can get Taisei to teach you at the studio."
"Hey, Tomo, don't go deciding things like that on your own for the sake of your own desires!" Furukawa gave Tomo a hard kick beneath the table.
"But this person here's really talented at guitar. Taisei, you'll be in charge of teaching him the correct guitar technique, while I'll be in charge of teaching him techniques in bed." I gave Tomo a kick as well.
"When is the next performance?" Hey, Yuri! You don't have to be that enthusiastic about it!
"The twenty-fourth, next month. The event is called 'Snow Crash.' And since it's on Christmas Eve, we'll be holding the performance in a spacious venue that can accommodate five hundred people."
"Christmas Eve huh......"
Yuri knitted his eyebrows.
"I am probably scheduled to attend a party somewhere, but I will skip it since I am not interested."
"The event will start at noon, but we'll be left alone at night. You know, to make use of the opportunity to get all intimate and stuff."
"Mmm, I see. But I do not think I will have the time to make it down to the studio. Sorry."
"But of course! Don't take his words literally, man!" Furukawa snapped.
"What a pity. I found a song that would 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>, his last work. It was a very dramatic cantata, but was barely known in Japan. I'm surprised he found that. Yuri's legs were swinging about beneath the table.
"Wow! I wanna listen!"
Honegger was a well-known composer outside of Japan because his music appeared in many movies. Looks like Tomo has been hooked on classical music ever since I asked him to help me edit the piano concerto and violin concerto. Playing Honegger's piece on Christmas Eve at a live house—now I'm interested as well.
"So you knew about Honegger as well, Naomi? That is impressive. I was really sad since I never heard Mafuyu mention him. I thought he was not well known in Japan."
"It can't be helped. Mafuyu's interests lie in the works from East Germany."
But it was true that Honegger wasn't very well known in Japan.
"Isn't that nice? I never thought I would get to listen to Honegger's works live here. I am really interested in seeing how you will arrange it."
"It shouldn't be a problem for you if you attend the concert as an audience member, yeah? I'll give you a ticket."
"Mmm, I will 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? My intentions would be clear for all to see. But isn't that okay? I mean, that's what I intended to do this whole time, isn't it? What is there to be afraid of at a time like this?
Filtering out the noise of the live house, I sank deep into thought. I regained my senses only after someone had slapped me on the cheeks.
"Naomi? What's wrong?"
Unbeknownst to me, Yuri had gotten up and sat down next to me. His palms and that cute face of his appeared right before my eyes, and I almost fell backwards and slipped out of my chair. Eh? Strange? Where's Furukawa?
"Taisei's about to hit the stage, so he already went in"—Tomo put on an exasperated expression—"It's about time for me to go move the instruments as well, so you two enjoy yourselves."
"Ah, h-hold on a second, Tomo."
I leapt out of 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 with Yuri? I'll have to charge you for the tickets."
"N-Nah, that's not it."
I could feel Yuri gazing at my face when I was about to blurt out my intentions, causing me to become flustered.
"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 won't find any happiness with a guy as useless as him. You should find someone better."
"But you know, encounters are just like traffic accidents—they cannot be helped. I have no one to blame but myself for bumping into a dummy like Naomi."
All I want to do is buy two tickets—why are they talking about me like this? I felt like crying.
"Who will you invite? ...... Mafuyu?"
Yuri moved his face next to mine and whispered that into my ears. I couldn't bring myself to look at him straight in the eyes, so I directed my gaze at 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'm not sure she's going to agree to go.
Just then, Yuri stomped my foot hard.
"What the heck are you doing!?"
"You do not need to reveal all that right to my face, do you? You should consider my feelings as well!"
"You're the one that wanted me to decide as quickly as possible—Oww, that hurts!" He actually drilled his heel into my foot!
"Yeah, I did say that!"—Yuri was throwing a tantrum like a child—"but I never expected you to get tickets for a concert on Christmas Eve! That is so unlike Naomi!"
"Well sorry for that! Then again, I'm not sure if she would be willing to go with me......"
"How can she possibly decline!?"
"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 were me, I wouldn't be interested in Disneyland; I'd head straight to the hotel instead," said Kagurazaka-senpai.
—Wait a second. Ehhhhhhhhhh!?
A tall silhouette suddenly appeared behind Tomo's gigantic body. She was wearing a miniskirt that generously revealed the curves of her legs, despite it being the end of November (though, admittedly, it was cashmere); and her belly button could be faintly seen in-between her knitted jacket and the miniskirt. Additionally, her hair wasn't braided like it usually was, and instead, flowed naturally down her back, which 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 are performing. What a coincidence. I would've invited you if I had known you were attending as well. Then again......"
Kagurazaka-senpai moved in towards me and hooked my arm with a sensual smile on her face. I couldn't run away despite the shock I was experiencing.
"This coincidence further confirms the invisible bonds that exist between us. I'm really happy."
"Eh? H-Haa, no, wait."
My mind was a mess. I couldn't even shake away Senpai's hand that was softly caressing my chin.
"You could've told me yesterday you were coming down. I could've given you a lift here."
"Tomo's car is filled with musical instruments, isn't it? I'm not interested in being squished by the sampler and mixer while riding along the idyllic roads."
"No worries, I've tidied up the boot recently to make space in the co-driver's seat for Kyouko."
"And whenever Tomo drives past a hotel, you always ask me things like 'Which do you prefer—a rest, or an overnight stay?' and so on. That's sexual harassment, you know? I've already decided to sit only by the side of the one I love."
Senpai hugged my arm tightly as she carried on her crazy conversation with Tomo.
"No, but not too long ago, this guy here said he'd be spending Christmas Eve with another girl—"
"Oh right. I hope you'll clear this up for me." Senpai placed her hands on my shoulders and turned me to face her.
Why does she want to know? Senpai burned my eyes with that passionate gaze coming from her slightly teary eyes; and I had no option but to turn my head to seek assistance.
"...... Naomi is 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 being applied on my shoulders by Senpai's hands suddenly disappeared.
Senpai snapped her head to the side, and her eyes opened wide as she gazed past my shoulders, looking at the area behind me. It seemed like Senpai had only just noticed Yuri's presence—probably, in no small part, because of the loud noise of the live house, as well as Yuri's small stature.
That name flowed out from Senpai's lips. I was completely suppressed by her aura, so I just turned my body aside. After crossing sights with Senpai, Yuri nodded his head in confusion.
One step. Two. Senpai moved in towards Yuri. I thought she was going to grab him by the hands, but instead, she cupped his tiny face—something I hadn't really expected. Hey! I shouted in my mind, but couldn't say anything out loud, as the two of them were enveloped in some 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 derived 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's the point of asking that all of a sudden?
Yuri's face turned 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. One year ago, I thought I would never be attracted to another guy for the rest of my life, and certainly never thought my second would appear before me so easily."
For some unknown reason, Senpai was looking at me when she said that; but she quickly turned back to Yuri.
"And I never would've expected my third to come so soon."
"Huh?" Yuri blinked his large, shiny eyes repeatedly. "I do not quite understand what you mean. I am not very good with Japanese."
"That is to say, this is my declaration of love."
I tugged the back of Senpai's collar on reflex. "What do you think you're saying to someone you just met?"
"The opposing nation is a strong one, and our nation is weak when it comes to scoring points. So as a representative of Japan, I think it's best I go all out right from the very beginning."
"What does that even mean? And please don't declare yourself as our representative! You'd be the disgrace of Japan, so stop that!"
"Urm, but I have two people in my heart already," said Yuri.
"That's okay. I have three—though it has just increased to four."
Said Senpai gently, as she combed her fingers through Yuri's silky blonde hair.
"But wouldn't it make you look dishonest if that number kept increasing?"
"I'm not adding to it on a whim. I'd be being dishonest to myself if I didn't admit I was attracted to you. And a person like that could never be honest to others as well."
What, you guys are actually striking up a conversation just like that? That's unbelievable. Playing the tsukkomi by myself was no longer enough, so I turned my head around to seek help from Tomo. But the tanned DJ had somehow disappeared. I looked around in a fluster, but when I located him on stage, he was vigorously waving his baseball cap in the dark, saying, "Do your best!" Damn that bastard, he snuck away and left me alone by myself!
"I think it would be better if you directed half your enthusiasm to Naomi as well."
Yuri flashed me a mischievous smile while in Senpai's arms.
"You're right, I agree. Young man...... ah—"
"I'll be affording you half my enthusiasm."
Why can I do nothing but drop my jaw and stand here agape? I couldn't say anything despite being aware of that thought of mine. It had almost been a year since I had met Senpai, and in that time, I had learned quite a number of things about her. Acting on that previous knowledge, I quickly grabbed Yuri by the shoulders and pulled him away from her.
"Are you jealous, Naomi?"
"Don't you start talking rubbish as well!"
"We should be the ones that are jealous, isn't that right?"
Senpai slid herself behind Yuri and whispered that.
"That is right. So that means we are enemies."
How do the two of them manage to converse normally? I really don't get it. You two might as well go on and on forever. While Yuri was turning around to look Senpai in the eye once more, the spotlights of the live house suddenly became extinguished; and all that was left, were the bluish-white spots of the disco ball dancing across the audience.
Before I knew it, my feet were already soaking in the deep and heavy discord of the synthesized strings, and the water levels were rising higher and higher. My arms, my chest, my neck—my whole body was being engulfed by the strings of the dark live house. The stage lasers were flashing on stage, and the crowd was going wild. The guitarist's and the vocalist's silhouettes were projected against the darkness, like the shadows of thunderclouds. But despite the cheers and the crazy drumming, I could clearly hear Yuri's words to Senpai.
"—My enemy, may I know your name?"
As well as Senpai's reply.
"Kagurazaka Kyouko—the revolutionary of love."