It was a sunny day when the two leaders were called to meet with the President. Both groups were a little surprised and excited, after all, it was not everyday that the President asked to meet with them, as it usually involved their LIVE performance. Which, considering one had just passed, and while it would be possible to have another LIVE to be scheduled so soon ― it would be far more interesting to imagine something else in store.
“What do you think it could be, Kakeru-san?” Koi asked, rocking his feet animatedly. “Do you think he’s going to give us a special job?”
Kakeru tilted his head, humming as he squeezed his eyes close to think deeply. Suddenly opening his eyes, the golden haired boy shook his best friend’s shoulders as hard as he could. “What if he wants us to disband?”
Koi gasped, “No, no way!”
Aoi laughed, but it was weak and controlled, turning towards the youngest pair. “…He would at least call all of us if that’s the case, right?”
“Yeah, don’t overthink it, pink-head,” Arata chimed in, slurping on his strawberry milk yet his hands were clenched so tightly that others could see them tremble, “What are you two talking about.”
“But that doesn’t seem so far-fetched, right?” Yoru suddenly said, his face pale and hands holding his head in fear. “Maybe we did badly in our last LIVE?”
“Calm down, Yoru,” his childhood friend commented, “It would be far more likely if one of us was sick and had to retire than we did bad at that performance. Our fans went crazy at the encore, remember?”
You instantly regretted his words choice when Iku also joined, “Wait, what? You? You’re not the one sick, aren’t you?”
“It’s just an expression, Iku. No, I’m not sick,” the redhead grumbled.
Rui shook his head, “I am fine, Iku.”
Koi gasped, “Don’t tell me… Hajime-san?”
“Calm down all of you,” Haru said, frowning as the conversation got more and more derailed. He had been enjoying the chaotic discussion until sickness was introduced. Beside him, Kai’s smile had long since frozen.
Haru sighed, tugging on his sleeves and nudging the oldest member in the room to come out from his head and help him with this mess. “The President is probably going for that association meeting of his again and has something to say about that?”
“Right!” Kai said, nodding a few more times than necessary. “There’s nothing to worry about!”
“That… does make sense!” Iku said, clapping his hands together and let out a deep relieved breath. “We should not overthink this!”
“But what if—”
The room was dead silent when Hajime and Shun opened the door, all their members head snapping right at them with tears in their eyes.
“What… happened?” Hajime asked.
“Hajime-san! You’re alright!” Kakeru ran straight at them, “We thought—”
“Hajime,” Haru cut through what Kakeru was going to say, his smile strained with tiredness he usually reserved after wrestling with Kuroda. The others, themselves, did not look any better with worry written all over their faces.
“How’s the meeting?” the sandy-haired asked quickly, before anyone could say anything anymore.
Shun gave them all a smile and everyone stiffened, “We have an announcement for you all!”
“Are we really going to disband?” Koi’s loud voice interrupted, tears dripping from his eyes and Hajime was taken aback. This always happened when they got called by the President, but this was the first time they really believed it enough to cry.
“No,” Hajime said, “We’re having—”
“Are you sick then?” Kai asked, there was a quiver in his voice and an emotion he could not name and Shun stepped closer to his partner. “No, we’re not. We’re having a new manager~”
“Kurotsuki-san is sick?”
“Tsukishiro-san is sick?” both the group members said at once and then looked at each other before frowning, digesting what each group had said. “Both of them are sick?”
Hajime sighed, a dark and uncomfortable feeling bubbled up in his chest and he wished he could crush this sickness they were talking about. “What’s with these sick themed questions? No, our President is hosting a music conference and both Tsukishiro and Kurotsuki are going to accompany him. So, for the duration of the conference we are having a temporary manager as their replacement.”
“Ooh…” a chorus of understanding echoed through the room.
Shun clapped his hands, giving a reassuring smile that he rarely showed to the younger members, “As a sign of good will, the manager is highly recommended by a friend of our dear President and so, this would be his grace period in the company.”
He then waved a blank paper he snatched from the meeting like it was a contract. “If he does well managing both of our groups, he would be assigned to a group of his choice, as long as both parties agree and said group does not have a prior manager.”
“So, no one is sick?” Rui asked for a good measure.
“No,” Shun agreed, “No one is sick.”
Haru nodded, accepting their explanation with grace. “When are we going to meet this new manager?”
Hajime smirked, “Now.”
As he uttered that word, a tall man in his 30s walked in. His dark hair was neatly combed to one side and combined with his formal suit he looked like he was a regular office worker they could find all over, especially on the subway station or an izakaya after the office hours.
“Yashiro Nobuyuki,” the man introduced himself, “Pleased to meet all of you.”
“You don’t need to be so formal,” You offered, “We’re all younger, y’know?”
“Alright,” the man said, nodding politely, “Then how about a one-on-one interview? I would like to know each one of you personally.”
They all looked at each other confusedly and Arata scratched the back of his head before saying, “Don’t you already have our files?”
“Of course,” Nobuyuki agreed, smiling lightly, “But I still wanted to know all of you a bit more so that I can know all your quirks and habits.”
Kai turned to look at Rui who had hidden behind Iku and gave the man a smile, “How about together with our partner? We are more often paired together for our work and this way it won’t take that long, right?”
Shun blinked when he saw something akin to displease flash across those eyes but it was gone so fast that he had trouble believing it.
Right now, the man was smiling with his eyes closed, “If you insist.”
He exchanged a look with Hajime, who seemed to be intently staring at their new manager, as though he might be able to pick apart all the layers the man was shrouding himself in.
‘Could it just be my imagination?'
Rui stared at the dense schedule before looking towards an excited Iku. He quickly hid his own behind his back when Iku turned to him, “How’s yours? This is the first time I got so many projects and I can’t wait!”
“Mine is… not that much,” Rui said and looked down at his feet, the distorting sounds became louder and louder and Rui hated this, hated the sound that man created and the fact he could make Iku happy with the same thing making him feel so defeated. His hands clenched tight he could hear the faint crumple of the paper.
Iku frowned, “Rui? Are you okay?”
“I’ll do better!” Rui said, giving off his best game face. “I won’t lose to Iku!”
Iku’s answering smile was so bright it did not feel like Rui was telling a lie. Yeah, he could also do it. So what if this week schedule was so packed he could not compose music? He could still do it next week.
Iku continued to talk and Rui nodded. As his partner, he would not be the one to slow him down. Rui would prove he could do this too and then Kai and Iku would not be as overprotective of him. If Iku could, why couldn’t he too? Rui was not weaker than Iku! Yeah. Of course he could.
With a brave face, the young man gave his schedule a second look and immediately felt like he was going to faint, could he really?
Koi squealed, “Kakeru-san! Look at this! Jam packed! See, I am famous too!”
“Eh? And here I thought it was only me…” Kakeru said with a pout, then the expression changed to a refreshing smile, “Well, let’s do our best, Koi!”
“What do you mean by that?” the pink head protested, “Don’t you think I can also do a jam packed schedule? Kakeru-san, don’t give me that sparkling look!”
Kakeru huffed, “Koi had never done anything like this before, right? I have!” he said proudly, “My part-time jobs had given me lots and lots of experience!”
“I can do too!”
“Alright! Let’s compete then!” Kakeru declared, “I would bet I would not be the first one to drop first!”
Koi pouted, “I won’t too! Just you see!”
Kakeru hid a smile, it was far too easy to rile Koi sometimes. It was good, Kakeru was happy that his partner was so energetic about this. But… he also remembered those years ago where Hajime had forced himself, always coming back home looking terribly tired and had no time to spend with them.
“Kakeru…” Koi called again, his earlier enthusiasm had bled out and expression grim and Kakeru knew they were thinking the same thing. “Do you really think this is a good thing?”
Kakeru sighed, taking a seat beside the younger and resting his head on the other’s now taller and broader shoulder, “I don’t know, Koi.”
“Aoi, this is the scariest thing I have seen today,” Arata declared, his face was expressionless as always but there was also something else in his tone.
“What do you mean, Arata?”
“Look,” Arata gave Aoi a piece of paper which they were usually given at the start of the week. Although it was pretty similar at first glance, it also frighteningly did not match with his and the platinum blond blinked.
Why did they not have any jobs together? Usually, they were paired up…
“See? Scary right?” Arata asked once again, “That man must have been a little touched in the head. I am scared, Aoi… This is like Hajime-san’s schedule.. the super busy one he had a long time ago. Also, who wants to record a farming episode? Is it famous with the public right now? I am glad to know I’m just appearing as a guest star.”
Aoi nodded along, “I don’t know about it being famous… but Yoru would probably enjoy it the most.”
Arata stared at the schedule once again before sitting up, “I’m going to their room.”
“Eh? Arata?” Aoi raised from his seat and went to follow his childhood friend, a strange feeling swirling in his chest.
You’s eyes squinted, looking at the paper in mild disbelief. “Yoru… I am famous.”
Yoru sighed, “Yes, we are. We are entertainers, remember?”
Finally finished with ironing all his laundry, he turned and finally saw what You had been super excited about. There were lines upon lines on the paper and Yoru felt dizzy just by taking a glimpse of it. “Eh…? You, isn’t that too heavy?”
The redhead blinked, “I think I once saw Kai’s schedule like this? I think it’s fine… if only for the week. Where’s yours?”
Yoru scrambled to see the paper he had been ignoring since the morning and gasped when they looked pretty much the same as his best friend’s. “This is…”
Arata slammed their door open and intently stared at the piece of paper on their hand. “Oh… you two also have that cursed thing.”
“Arata?” He did not expect the darker haired man coming in their room to proclaim such a foreboding sentence. Though, he did foresee Aoi would arrive not long after.
“Yoru, how are you doing?” Aoi asked, giving him a refreshing smile.
The September representative sighed, “As you see,” he said, gesturing at Arata who was shaking You as hard as he could, demanding why You looked like he was on cloud nine. “We’re still looking at our schedules. What about yours? Is it as heavy?”
Aoi offered Yoru his own schedule which was nearly identical, the only difference being the projects, directors and producers names.
“Arata,” the redhead said, voice low and expression serious, “I am going to appear as a guest on Show Your Voice! music show!”
Arata’s hands were already on You’s collar in the short time Yoru blinked and he declared with a flat tone which did not match his words at all, “My goddess Miku. This world is not fair,” the April representative let go of his grasp and already on his way out of the door. “I am going to have a word with that manager.”
“Miku is also my goddess!” You countered and snatched the schedule out of Arata’s hands before hitting his friend on the head, “You’re going to the same thing as me, idiot!”
Yoru turned to Aoi and the platinum blond was marking the paper as he compared some of the projects that they shared. It was not much, but at least he was not alone in some of them.
“It shouldn’t be too bad?” Aoi comforted himself. He had a feeling that this schedule wouldn’t really fit them, but he didn’t want to worry the others yet. He should not give them a false alarm. It might just because this was the first time they were given this kind of responsibility and he felt overwhelmed. Even Arata was warming to the idea and did not wish for his childhood friend to lose that enthusiasm.
Moreover, Hajime could do this too, wasn’t he? It might just be wishful thinking, but Aoi had looked up to the older for so long and he wanted to be like him. This would be the first step to that. A way for Aoi to close the gap. Would that be too cocky? Sighing, he went back to comparing the schedule and blinked.
“Eh? Yoru, I think you’re sharing this filming with Arata,” he pointed out, the farming variety show Arata had complained not too long ago. Surprised, Yoru carefully read the schedule he had been given for the first time. Farming…? Potatoes?
Maybe this schedule was not so bad, after all.
Kai huffed and tugged the blanket away from the sleeping young master with no avail, shaking him awake, “Shun!”
The white haired male only whined, snuggling even deeper into his bed, making his partner count backwards from ten to restrain himself… yeah no, not working.
He had enough and Shun yelped, finding himself on the floor like yesterday morning and a few other mornings previously.
“Kai~ Do you have to wake me so roughly?”
“I won’t if you do wake up,” the brunet complained, “And here, your schedule for the week.”
Shun grumbled, “You are the only one who dares to treat me this way, you know?”
“Yes, yes,” Kai followed along, “You have said that a few times and do go check on your schedule, will you? What did you do to make that man angry? Yours is the worst out of all of us and here I thought mine is scary enough.”
Shun did not even look at the so called schedule before his head promptly met with his pillow again and uncharacteristically let out a muffled wail, “Kai… I am going to put a few curses on our President when he returns.”
The oldest startled, the tea set rattled on the bedside table as he threw his leader a shocked look. “Shun? Please tell me you’re joking… You’re joking, right?!”
Haru closed his eyes, counting to ten silently, and opened them again. Then, he took off his glasses, cleaned them with the glasses cleaning products for good measure, and then stared at the piece of paper like it was a mystery treasure map he was not sure if it was real or not.
His vision became clearer but the contents of what he had been seeing did not change. “Hajime… This temporary manager we just got might either be a genius or an idiot.”
His best friend threw him a questioning look, “What made you say that?”
“I am going to be interviewing this foreign singer,” Haru told him, pointing at the name listed on his schedule, “My english is good, I am confident with that. But see… the singer is Chinese and that part is where I am not sure about. China seems to be a good place if we want to expand, our cultures might be similar enough for them to take a liking to us and for us to interact with them…”
“Your Mandarin is not as good?” Hajime asked teasingly.
“I don’t even know how to comment on that… No, my Mandarin is not good, at all.”
The darker haired male snorted, “So you’re going to study then?”
Gravi’s other senior member gaped, “Hajime, I don’t know what you think of me, but learning a language as hard as that with different intonation and stresses in a week is impossible for me. I’m not like Shun or you!”
Hajime tilted his head curiously, “So you won’t?”
Haru grumbled under his breath and it suspiciously sounded like a swore, “I will, just you see. Conversational Mandarin is far easier than writing them. I can do it.”
Later, when Hajime was color coding his schedule and Haru himself was buried under books and pronunciation podcasts, the taller of the two groaned in frustration, “Why can’t he give this project to Shun, who is already proficient in the language? Why can’t he just give us a translator altogether? What’s wrong with this guy?”
In the other corner of the room, the Black King let out a chuckle and softly, as if he did not want to disturb the other’s concentration, he whispered, “Good luck, Haru.”
He was sure there would be a translator at the interview. No one would say anything to anyone and nothing would progress at all without one. But he would not be the one to tell Haru that.
And as he stared at his own schedule, he couldn’t help but recall their earlier meeting. Was it just his imagination or…?
Hajime walked in Gravi’s common room, feeling sore and tired. It had been four days since they got their new manager and schedule, but already it felt like it was weighing down on him. And while it was true he was used to having a heavy schedule, it had been a while since he was this tired.
Maybe it could be attributed to how he had actually decreased his workload after talking with the other 11. He could still remember how they had ambushed him one day, refusing to let him go to work if he were not complying with their wishes and decreasing his workload.
Their managers had merely laughed at his predicament, as though it had all been pre-planned.
Needless to say, they were quite successful in getting their wish. Since then, he took on less jobs, if only to spend more time with them. He couldn’t deny that with his packed schedule, he could barely hang out with them.
He had never felt so lighter before. And the beaming smiles that had graced their faces, as though they had received a present on Christmas, was worth it.
Now, it felt odd working this late.
“I’m back,” he announced tiredly.
Hajime paused mid-step and looked up, eyes quickly surveying how downtrodden his friends looked. Usually, he would be greeted more energetically but right now, all of them looked dead on their feet.
Were their schedules that packed as well?
“Hajime-san,” Kakeru mumbled quietly as he dragged his feet along and hugged the surprised leader. “Don’t like…”
“…I don’t like him,” Kakeru mumbled as he buried his face in Hajime’s stomach. “I don’t like our schedules either…”
Hajime felt another shiver run up his spine at those words. These past few days he had been so busy that it almost felt suspicious. And while he wouldn’t say it out-loud in front of his juniors, Hajime certainly had felt something off with their new manager.
He just couldn’t place his finger on this nagging feeling of his.
“What’s wrong with your schedule, Kakeru?” Hajime asked softly, maneuvering them towards the couch. He also noted how exhaustion seemed to be dripping off of everyone’s faces.
So it isn’t just Kakeru, Hajime thought, an odd feeling of cold anger steadily spreading inside of him.
“…Mn,” was the only response he got and Hajime could only soften slightly at the sight of Kakeru dozing off. But it wasn’t time for Kakeru to do that yet. He needed to know.
“Kakeru, I know you are tired,” Hajime explained patiently, ruffling his blond hair slowly. “But can you get me your schedule first?”
“It’s nothing Hajime-san,” Aoi approached their leader, fatigue lacing his smile. “We’re… just a bit tired. Ah, anyways, what would you like to eat? You haven’t had anything right?”
Hajime peered at Aoi confusedly. Was it just him or was his complexion even paler than he last saw him?
“...Aoi, how about you sit down for a while?” Hajime said cautiously, jostling the half-asleep Kakeru to lay on the other side of the couch. “You don’t look too well.”
“I’m fine Hajime-san,” Aoi instantly said, feeling like a failure for making his leader worry. He was fine, he promised that he could do this.
And wasn’t it him who looked up to Hajime-san? Who wanted to be like Hajime-san? Then he could handle it, he could handle his densely packed schedule.
After all, Hajime-san could do it too.
“Aoi,” Hajime’s worried voice broke through his daze and he wondered why everything felt blurry?
Black spots suddenly began to dance in his vision as he struggled to keep himself upright. Why couldn’t he get his legs to move? It wasn’t so hard to move his feet right? He needed to give Hajime-san his food.. He still hadn’t had anything, right? So why wasn’t he moving?
The sounds suddenly intensified, giving him a headache. W-Who was speaking so loudly? Why couldn’t they just be quiet?
Just before he could say anything, he felt the room tilt. In the near distance, he could hear someone—everyone?—yelling and the sound of rushing feet, but he couldn’t make any sense of it.
He barely processed the strong and comforting arms before he succumbed to the soft mercy of darkness.
Aoi felt like he was floating in a void. It almost seemed peaceful. He wouldn’t mind if he were to stay for a while longer.
He couldn’t remember the last time he felt as comfortable as this, his tight schedule not giving him the space to breath.
“...too much work…”
But something nagged at him, to wake up soon… and soon, a sliver of light breached the darkness. After that, distant sounds began to come into focus… but he didn’t want to open his eyes; didn’t want to escape this peaceful silence.
He still wanted to sleep.
And just as he thought this, a warm hand that he associated with safety landed on top of his closed eyes.
“You can still sleep, Aoi.”
It was as though he was waiting for the permission as he immediately lost all strength. The tiny, persistent voice in the back of his head soon fell silent, allowing him to drift back into the tranquil embrace of sleep.
“How is he?” Shun asked, coming to a halt behind Hajime who busy taking care of their juniors.
“Better, his fever finally lowered,” Hajime replied, staring at the flushed face of the May representative.
He then glanced at the others in the room, all of them fast asleep around the room.
“What about on your side?” Hajime finally asked, knowing that Shun wouldn’t come to him with such a forlorn expression if nothing had happened.
“It wasn’t just Aoi who collapsed,” Shun reported, taking a seat beside Hajime. “This morning, we found Rui with a high fever too.”
“And the rest of them?”
“In the same condition as them,” Shun helplessly pointed towards the other Gravi members. “They’ve gotten too much work.”
“Clearly,” Hajime said lowly. “Did you inform Nobuyuki-san?”
Sighing, Shun nodded, “I did, but he didn’t seem happy about it.”
“…Figures,” Hajime grumbled. “He seems to have a vendetta against us, packing their schedules this bad.”
“I wouldn’t call it a vende—”
Both of their attention turned towards the platinum blond on the bed. It seemed like he was waking up, though struggling to open his eyes.
Eyes softening, Hajime reached out and placed a hand on top of the slightly fluttering eyes.
“You can still sleep, Aoi,” he whispered softly, and not a moment later, the blond went limp.
Fixing the sheets, Hajime stood up and looked at the rest before he motioned for Shun to follow him.
“Are you going to talk to him?”
Hajime glanced at Shun, who silently followed, eyes fixed upon the far distance.
“It can’t continue this way,” he said simply, earning a nod.
“…True, two of our members collapsed. That isn’t good.”
“And how long are they going to take to recover?”
Hajime and Shun sat in the temporary manager’s office, patiently watching the man work furiously on reconfiguring their schedules.
It had been strange walking in, the office feeling unnaturally cold and uncomfortable—at odds with how it felt when Tsukishiro and Kurotsuki would be here.
Honestly, both leaders would prefer it if their actual managers were here but they couldn’t do anything about it. Nobuyuki was here by a recommendation, after all. However, both Shun and Hajime agreed that this man is not a good manager.
“They should recover within a few days,” Shun said. “Until then, they can’t participate in anything.”
“The doctors said that they’d been overworked, so they have to take it easy,” Hajime said and for good measure added, “All of them.”
“What?” Nobuyuki asked, pausing as he stared at them incredulously. “They’re tired just from this much?”
Both leaders frowned and exchanged glances. Did they hear that right?
“Unfortunately Nobuyuki-san, having a schedule this densely packed is bound to bring—”
“Preposterous!” The manager cut Hajime off rudely. “What have your previous managers been doing? Being able to work this much is something that all idols should be able to do!”
‘Previous managers?’ Shun mouthed to Hajime who was surprised himself. What was wrong with this man? Didn’t he realize that he was only covering for Tsukishiro and Kurotsuki for about a week?
As though taking their silence for agreement, the man continued his rant, “All of you have so much potential! Potential that is being held back because of them! It seems that when the President gets back, I would need to talk with him.”
Can I iron claw him? Hajime asked Shun silently.
No, don’t think it’ll work, Shun sent him a helpless look as he shook his head.
“I’ll be giving you all a day off today,” both of them glanced back at the manager, who was now furiously scribbling something on a paper. “After that, I expect everyone to work again.”
Shocked by the proclamation, Shun began to interfere, “A day is not enough—”
Can I kill him? Hajime stared at Shun inquisitively. Please? Can I?
No, Shun once again shook his head and placed a comforting hand on Hajime’s clenched fist. He knew the other wouldn’t hesitate to rip the man’s head off.
Had they not been in this situation, he would have been dying from cuteness overload because Hajime was asking him for permission to kill their temporary manager…!!
“Aoi and Rui would be taking a few days off,” Shun declared, earning a glare from their managers. “And so will we.”
“I said no—”
“We have the last words for our groups schedule,” Haijme glared back, cowing the other in silence. “Try to fight against it, and you will not be in Tsukino Productions when the President get back.”
Gritting his teeth, Nobuyuki seemed to come to a conclusion, “Well then, maybe that rule needs to change. From now on, I will be having the last say for your schedules. And I say that you are only getting today off. Aoi and Rui can have another day off.”
The only response that the manager got were two pairs of piercing eyes. It almost left him scared but, what could two people do to him?
Besides, it was for their own good. This way, he would be able to show the world how far they can reach.
“How dare he?” Hajime growled, anger radiating off of him like a train of turbulent waves.
“Calm down Hajime,” Shun said calmly, only to be glared by cold, purple eyes, forcing him to raise his hands placatingly. “I’m not saying to leave him alone, but we can’t do anything without the president.”
“So we sit here and do nothing?” By now, Hajime’s eyes had taken on a very dangerous tint and displeased that Shun could even suggest such a thing. “He should be happy that the only reason why I didn’t do anything was because you stopped me.”
“And I thank you for that,” Shun said, meeting Hajime’s piercing eyes. “But don’t you think that killing him would be a rather lenient punishment?”
Hajime paused, staring at his counterpart whose eyes reflected the brewing storm, belaying his anger.
“Yes,” Shun drawled out his words out, knowing that he had his counterpart’s absolute attention. “He has intentionally harmed our juniors, so he should have a long and painful punishment. You know, something like a long-lasting curse?”
“He needs to suffer, you mean.”
“Just like he made our juniors,” Shun agreed, before glancing at the silent black haired leader from the corner of his eye. “So, what do you think?”
Hajime stared ahead for a moment, before a slow smirk began to form upon his normally stoic visage.
“No, a curse would be too lenient as well,” Hajime said, surprising his counterpart whose eyes widened at the malicious look.
“Instead, we should destroy what he holds dear the most, in front of his eyes, so that he may never be able to get back up again.”
Glancing at Procellarum’s leader, Hajime smiled, “What do you think, Shun?”
Shun was speechless for a moment before low chuckles left his mouth.
“I believe that even if I were to disagree, you would merely do it behind my back,” Shun said amused. “But yes, you are right. It seems the most fitting punishment for such a greedy man.”
“Let’s tell Kai and the others,” Hajime said, rather eagerly, causing Shun to hide his growing smile behind his hand.
‘It seems that the temporary manager would soon be begging for death… I would have felt bad for him, had he not harmed our juniors.’
“And you would like to participate in this interview?” Nobuyuki asked skeptically. “Why—?”
“It is an interview that both of our groups annually attend,” Shun smoothly interrupted. “It would be odd to skip an interview now, wouldn’t it?”
Nobuyuki sighed, and pinched his nose, “That’s not what I’m asking.”
Raising an eyebrow, Shun sipped his tea elegantly as he motioned for the other to continue.
“This interview seems to be a waste of time,” Nobuyuki said, distaste gracing his face. “Instead you should—”
“That interview is hosted by one of the most watched talk shows which airs on a prime time TV slot. Their influence is very big and not many groups get the opportunity to attend it,” Shun once more interrupted gleefully, enjoying how their temporary manager twitched at being cut off twice.
“An invitation is required to attend,” Hajime added from the side. “And only the best of the best groups are invited.”
There was a notable silence that doused the room and both leaders were able to see the gears turning in the man’s mind.
“And both Six Gravity and Procellarum annually receive these invitations?” Nobuyuki asked, smile slightly strained.
“We don’t need an invitation,” Hajime said simply, throwing the man for a loop.
“We’re what you call regulars,” Shun happily explained. “I believe that Koi has still kept in touch with the show’s producers.”
“We don’t need invitations, since it’s expected for us to attend, even for a short while,” Hajime continued. “And this time it seems that only we have been invited.”
Both leaders raised their eyebrows in mock confusion.
“Your verdict, temporary manager-san~” Shun said happily, the manager once again twitching at the label.
“Right,” Nobuyuki said, looking as though he might just hurl something at the white haired leader. “You can attend.”
“We were going to regardless of your choice,” Hajime said, enjoying how the man’s smile faltered. “But thank you, temporary manager-san.”
“Make sure to work our schedule around, since the interview is tomorrow~” Shun drawled out lazily as he stood up, heading towards the door.
“And it would take the entire day too,” Hajime added, following Shun. “Leave the rest of today’s day blank since we need to prepare.”
“Also Aoi and Rui still can’t attend, we have the doctor’s recommendation too if you want to see it~”
“...Eh?” Nobuyuki said blankly and stared how both men left before it dawned on him what was said. “Wait, what do you mean it’s tomorrow?!”
“Welcome ladies and gentlemen!” A host excitedly said. “Welcome to ‘Mio’s Talk Show’! I, Akiba Mio, would be your host for today and am excited to join all of you here in this once a year opportunity!”
“Now, we have some very special guests today and I’m sure all of you know them already! Please welcome them in, Six Gravity and Procellarum!”
And just like that, the crowd went crazy. Though it was an annual thing, it seemed that every year the excitement from the fans just seemed to increase.
“It has been a while since our last interview hasn’t it?” Mio asked. “However, Satsuki Aoi and Minnaduki Rui seems to not be present today…?”
“Both of them unfortunately fell sick so they couldn’t make it today,” Haru explained. “They have been working too hard for the last few days, without taking a break.”
“Ah that is true. There have been numerous sightings that Six Gravity and Procellarum have been taking more jobs lately.”
“Yes, we’ve had a new manager lately, so we’ve been really busy these days!” Kakeru said.
“A new manager?”
“Hai, Yahiro Nobuyuki, our temporary manager,” Shun said smiling rather brightly. “Tsukishiro-san and Kurotsuki-san, our actual managers had to accompany our President to an important conference so, he was recommended by a friend of our President’s!”
Kai, Haru and the juniors stared at Shun… so much for subtlety.
“This year is usually busy anyways,” Hajime picked up the conversation. “So we’ve been wanting to impress our temporary manager.”
Now, the 8 stared at Hajime incredulously. What was up with their leaders making everything obvious?
“—curious about your last LIVE. What were the things you found easy?”
“Well, Tsukishiro-san and Kurotsuki-san helped us manage our time. If it were left up to me, I would have overworked myself in trying to make the LIVE a success,” Hajime said. “With their help, we were able to successfully perform.”
“Hmm, just like Hajime said,” Shun explained cheerfully. “Our actual managers made us a time schedule to follow. And if there was any point in time that we strayed from the schedule, they would reprimand us. They even listened to our thoughts and helped us de-stress!”
“Other than that, I believe that because we’ve been having many LIVES lately,” Haru interjected quickly, before their leaders could say anything else. “It has become relatively easy understanding what the audience is looking from us.”
“Yeah, and so we were able to prepare much better this time,” Kai said, laughing. “Our dance practices as well, we were able to add in many adlibs, so please do look forward to that!”
“—about the future? Are there any other projects that we should specially be looking forward to?”
“Ah, I believe that both Six Gravity and Procellarum have gotten a deal to star in a movie,” Hajime said. “Though the main focus would be Kai, Haru, Shun and I, the juniors would be participating as well.”
“Both Hajime and I had the opportunity to meet with the producer,” Shun explained with a mischievous glint in his eyes. “We are looking forward to this movie.”
“Currently, talks are being suspended until our actual managers and President return,” Hajime said. “So, we can’t really divulge anything about this movie. But please do look forward to it.”
Haru and Kai stared at each incredulously.
We will be starring in a movie? Since when? Haru asked silently.
Kai could only helplessly shrug, I don’t know what they are planning.
“—most things now have been talked about, but now we have a segment of ‘Q&A’s’ by our viewers! The first question ‘Good afternoon! A recent photo has been going around with the seniors of both Procellarum and Six Gravity looking ‘close.’ Would the picture be merely fanservice?’ And here’s the picture the letter was talking about!”
“Haha, sorry to say this, but it’s merely fanservice!” Kai said laughing.
“We were directed by the director to do it this way,” Haru said, smiling fondly of the memory. “They’d told us they wanted to capture our ‘closeness.’”
“It was a fun experience,” Shun added in. “And the funny thing is that they’d captured that photo when we weren’t actually paying attention.”
“We were still getting into the position,” Hajime agreed. “And the director said that we needed no retake for this particular photo.”
“Then, this is a question from me, but have the four of you, outside of work, ever cuddled?” Akiba Mio asked with a rather maniac gleam in her eyes.
Hajime tilted his head to the side and bluntly said, “We have. Why?”
The black haired leader could only stare at the frozen host in confusion before he looked at his counterpart, who was struggling to keep his laugh inside. From the corner, he could see Kai and Haru looking away as well, with the juniors laughing nervously.
“Did I say anything wrong?” he asked Shun, who could only laugh harder.
“...So the four of you have cuddled outside of work,” Mio said with gleaming eyes, as though she had gotten quite a large scoop. “How often would it be?”
“...Sometimes?” Hajime said, when the others couldn’t quite the words out. “Especially when—”
“Not that often,” Haru finally interrupted, the host actually looking saddened. “In fact, it’s rarely done so. And only if we are stressed.”
Shun, on the other hand, could still only laugh, though this time it was a lot more controlled. And though Hajime still looked confused, Shun could only give him a thumbs up.
Hajime’s obliviousness can sometimes come in handy.
“—the final question! ‘Is any of you dating anybody? If not, then can we please know your type?’ Then, please go ahead!”
“We’re not dating anybody,” Haru and Kai both said at the time, just before their leaders could say anything. “What about you guys?”
“No!” A chorus of ‘noo’s’ from the juniors were heard before Akiba Mio turned towards the silent leaders, who seemed to have some kind of silent conversation.
Haru and Kai could feel the tensions rising with the longer they stayed silent.
“We’re not dating anybody,” Hajime finally diffused the tension, both Haru and Kai sagging in relief.
“Neither am I,” Shun said playfully.
“Then, what about your types?” Mio asked rather eagerly.
Hajime and Shun both remained silent until the others began to explain their types. Both of them having some sort of silent acknowledgement as they nodded towards each other. Haru and Kai could only wait in trepidation.
“Then, what about you Hajime-kun? Shun-kun?”
“Hmm, I don’t have a particular preference,” Shun began smiling widely that set everyone in Gravi and Procella on the edge of their seats. “However, right now my heart is set upon Hajime! L-O-V-E, Hajime LOVE!!”
The uproar in the studio was insane. Everyone basically fangirling... Or fanboying and questions upon questions being asked in the studio.
Kai and Haru could be seen facepalming while the juniors looked at Shun in disbelief.
“As for me,” it was like magic, the noise immediately settling down when the Black King spoke softly. Everyone waiting impatiently for the Black King’s answer, who was also ignoring Shun’s sudden declaration. “...Someone like Shun?”
That day, nobody in Gravi and Procella could believe their eyes or sight, seeing as how Shun squealed like a girl and began gushing over the Black King, who seemed rather ignorant of what kind of damage his words caused.
It was also the day where many of the girls, including their host, had squealed just as loud as their Demon Lord… so was it any surprise that within the next hour, the interview went viral?
“Welcome to Tsukipro Channel,” Koi’s energetic voice was as always a mainstay as one of their video streaming personalities. “How was last night’s interview, everyone? We answered your questions to the best of our ability! Hope you’re all enjoying watching them as much as we did!”
Kakeru popped into the camera sight, together with his tsukiusa, “It’s always an honor to come back to ‘Mio’s Talk Show’ every year! Right, Koi?”
Koi nodded and there was a touch of sadness on his face he rarely shows. Guiltily, Kakeru nudged him, reminding they were still on camera. “It might be a little lonely without Ikkun and Rui-Rui, but the two of us will give our best to fill in for them.”
The pink haired boy smiled, the sadness still was not gone but he managed to mask it, “Right, Iku and Arata-san are with their combi, nursing them like mother-hens~”
Kakeru did not doubt Arata would take revenge on that sometime in the future. But for now, it lifted the mood, as it always did when Koi teased Arata. “You see on our right, this is…”
Haru was sitting beside Hajime and Shun who were enjoying a small tea party on the other corner of the room, barely out of camera range. This set up had been a joke when they first started this kind of Q&A, to see if their fans could catch who was on the background doing various unusual stuff. Today it seemed to be an Alice in Wonderland themed Tea Party for the seniors with Kakeru and Koi as the MCs with help from You and Yoru.
“It’s done,” Haru whispered, the laptop was still whirring from the last evidence it just erased. He knew that Nobuyuki-san would flounder if he were to learn what they had done. “Are you sure this is wise?”
His leader smiled, just like the first time Haru had ever laid eyes on him, mysterious and beautiful but also deadly. “Don’t worry, Haru. It seems the plan is running quite smoothly.”
Haru opened his mouth to say more but loud stomping noise disrupted his attention and the door slammed open.
“What have you done?!” Nobuyuki yelled at the nonchalant leaders who were merely sipping tea, the other members lounging rather tensely around them.
“…Drinking tea?” Hajime asked, looking as though he was clueless but everyone knew he was anything but that.
“I mean with the talk show!”
“…Answering questions?” This time it was Shun who adopted the confused persona.
Everybody knew they were stalling—
“Stop playing dumb!”
—well except their new temporary manager, Haru rescinded.
“Contrary to popular belief, I am not as you so eloquently put it ‘playing dumb,’” Shun said airily, though it was quite obvious to the rest of the idols that he was anything but happy.
“Don’t act so mighty!” The man cut through Shun’s words, nostrils flared, his pupils shrunk and face red with anger, “You planned this, didn’t you? Don’t think I am such a fool to be deceived by your second class acting! This was all your doing, wasn’t it?!”
He furiously threw a folder towards Shun, the paper inside scattering all over the floor and You scrambled to restrain Kai from punching the man straight.
Yoru took one of those papers carefully with trembling hands, eyes never quite leaving the temporary manager.
“Are those two bastards faking their sickness to help you do this? Just as I expected from cowards like you all!”
It was Aoi… or someone who looked eerily similar to Aoi with Arata’s sister laughing by his side, kissing her cheek as if they were lovers but Yoru himself knew they were not, it would be impossible.
Sitting right on his feet was another picture strewn around, of someone who he was way too familiar with to be mistaken as anyone else — even if that person also trying too hard to be his brother with shoulder length tied up red hair flowing wildly in the wind, caught frozen in time as he was whispering something on a girl’s ear.
All the scattered documents were full of similar photos or recounts of said photos, taken from their fans and spotters various social media profiles.
“This is all your doing, isn’t it? You dare to—”
Hajime sighed before standing calmly, hands placatingly raised. “Nobuyuki-san,” he said, taking a single step backward, as Nobuyuki stalked forward threateningly. “Please calm down. Getting angry wouldn’t help us.”
“Angry? Angry?!” The manager screamed, pointing an accusing finger towards the two leaders, both having a frown on their face. “I have every right to be angry!”
By now, even Kakeru and Koi had paused from addressing the audience, both looking at the confrontation with tense and worried eyes. In their worry, they had forgotten to turn the camera off, the scene streaming live.
“And it’s all your fault!”
“Nobuyuki-san,” Hajime said, disapprovement lacing his tone as their temporary manager accused them. “How is it our fault? I understand that you are worried about these… scandalous pictures but it is common in this industry.”
Nobuyuki’s eyes flared in anger, taking another threatening step forward. Hajime continued on as though he didn’t see him.
“And Aoi and Rui are not “faking” their illness,” Hajime said sharply. “They’ve been in bed all day long, so it is obvious that this is somebody else in the picture.”
“And as a manager,” Shun said frowning. “You are to solve these misunderstandings. Clearly, somebody is trying to act as Aoi and pass it off as him. How can you let this go? Kurotsuki-san and Tsukishiro-san would have already been solving this issue.”
So this is the point of no return, Haru watched the scenes unfold with fury stirring in every sharp intake of breath he took, vision slowly dyed red. And he would have stepped in, if not for Shun’s green eyes zeroing at him warningly, reminding him of the camera that they had set up not too long before — Koi and Kakeru still had yet to turn it off and they were streaming just moments ago.
Calm down. It will be alright. The plan is foolproof...
Haru closed his eyes, counting backwards from ten and—
Kai shook off out of You’s hold, blocking the hand that was about to land on Shun. “I would advise you to back off,” their oldest member growled, standing protectively in front of their leaders, “It was one thing to yell at them and another if you dare to raise your hands at talents under your care.”
Haru also strolled to Hajime’s other side, eyes unforgiving. The hot, boiling rage had turned cold in an instant, “You’re finished, Nobuyuki-san.”
It might be just his imagination, but he could have sworn he heard Shun’s voice, barren of its usual mischief and replaced with malice instead, “Checkmate.”
Tsukishiro and Kurotsuki stared.
“—unbelievable that somebody this despicable attempted to enter Tsukino Productions. It seems the man had a long standing grudge against Six Gravity and Procellarum’s managers which would explain his outburst live. There are even rumours that suggests he has harmed them due to his arrogance. Luckily, the employee has been safely apprehended—”
The two managers looked at each other. What on earth happened when they’d just been gone for a few days?!
Hajime and Shun calmly sat on the sofa, drinking their tea as the news played in front of them.
It was about their former temporary manager, who had been disgraced terribly in front of the entire world’s eyes.
Who would have thought that the man would suddenly burst into their talk show, with the intent of harming them? Who would have thought that the camera had never been turned off, still streaming, showing the world what the man was like?
Who would ever believe the man’s claim of the idols setting them up?
Because the public surely didn’t. If anything, they were more sympathetic to them, demanding the man be stripped of his license and everything.
The man’s career was destroyed. The man’s entire dream — to be an influential manager — was shattered.
There was just no hope for the man to do anything anymore.
“Was there a need to go this far?” Kurotsuki Dai asked tiredly.
The managers and the President had rushed back the moment the news reached them (which was quite instantaneously. They almost had a heart attack). And they’d been surprised when they were told of what had transpired.
And the moment that the man had been captured, Shun hadn’t wasted his efforts to cast quite a few.. disturbing curses on the man, who was promptly relocated to another country.
“Don’t be hypocrites. You’d do the same, if not worse, if you were in our place.”