It began on August...
It was another fine day at Habataki City, a small city located in Japan full of interesting landmarks. The people were fashionable, be it toddlers, kids, teens or adults. At the entertainment district, there was a famous building called “Prince Republic”. Two of the most discussed idol groups across Japan, 3 Majesty and X.I.P., were scouted under that agency. Although they worked on the same building, they rarely met each other due to their activities.
“3 Majesty members, please come to the conference room right now. We are having a sudden meeting,” the manager’s secretary informed the boys who were having a sudden break at the lounge.
“Okay guys, you’ve heard her. Let’s attend the meeting,” Tsukasa-san, with a firm voice, ordered other members to follow the secretary. He waved his hand in front of the bored Otowa-san and said,
“Hey, do you hear me?”
“I heard you. The meeting must be about yesterday’s poll,”
“Whatever, we’ll find out in no time IF we hurry up there,” Tsukasa-san answered himself.
“Hey, you too, move up!”
Kaito-kun turned off his iPod and joined them.
A moment later...
“Sorry managers, but I can’t accept this!” Toru-kun shouted quite loudly. He shuddered.
“You know this will happen when the official website published that poll, don’t you?” Kyoya-kun tried to calm him down. He pushed the enraged Toru-kun with his hand at his chest. Toru-kun sat down uncomfortably.
“But I thought it was a mere poll, yeah, fans’ stuffs and like that...”
“You should think more critically, Toru-kun. After all, we are entertainers. We ought to please our fans!”
“So, managers, what are we going to do?” Kento-kun could not contain his question any longer. He wanted to quickly take a rest and call it a day. A sigh escaped from his mouth afterwards.
“Well, boys,” the 3 Majesty’s manager stepped out to the front of the screen and began his speech, “according to the poll, the fans wanted to switch of 3 Majesty and X.I.P. members. And the highest result decided to exchange Tsuji Kaito and Date Kyoya.”
There was a silent moment for a while before Kaito-kun bursted,
“Whoa, me? I thought the first result was Tsukasa-san and Toru-kun!”
“That result was two hours before closing,” Otowa-san replied. He looked indifferent with whatever the result, anyway. He began browsing cat pics on his Smartphone. Tsukasa-san threw a signal to stop whatever he was doing but Otowa-san did not understand.
“That’s fine with me,” Kyoya-kun leaned his arms forward. Kento-kun gazed the flying bird outside the window, sighed and sipped the energy drink presented before him. Toru-kun still could not believe he would sing together with Kaito-kun.
“Not that I don’t like you, but, we have similar fanbases. Releasing a single with this formation will lower the sales since Kyoya-kun’s fans might not buy it.”
“I don’t agree with you, Toru-kun, the main reason they buy our albums is because they like our songs. Whether they support us as individuals or not is another reason. It’s a good experiment with our current music. Furthermore, it’s not a fixed formation,” Kyoya-kun replied gently. His eyes shines, sharp as an eagle.
A moment later...
“Have you all come to an agreement?” the X.I.P. manager looked satisfied.
“I will try my best, manager! Please treat me well, Kento-sempai, Toru-kun!” Kaito-kun bowed after his new teammates.
“Guys, I’ll tag along later! See ya.” Kyoya-kun waved to his X.I.P. friends and joined the smiling Otowa-san and the still puzzled Tsukasa-san.
One day after...
The Prince Republic office appeared noisier than usual. Some staffs moved Kaito-kun’s properties to X.I.P.’s room. Kaito-kun, still headphones on both ears, streched his arms and yawned. The room was larger than 3 Majesty’s but the stuffs were less organized. Some instruments were stuffed near the wardrobes. A few papers were lying on the floor. It looked like a personal bedroom rather than a training room.
“So this is where you train?” Kaito-kun asked Kento-kun.
“Yeah, welcome. This is more of a resting room, I guess. The studio is to the west of that hall over there,” he pointed his muscular arms to an empty room which had two doors. The fingers inclined to the left door, “and we practice dancing at the room beside this one.”
“I understand,” Kaito-kun moved his legs to the shelf at the corner. His hands explored the display shelf quietly. The hand stopped at a familiar figure. It was him, but smaller, much smaller... and quieter....
“They made things like this, too? Why I didn’t get informed earlier? They didn’t give or show me one,” protested Kaito-kun.
“Oh, it’s very popular, though. The one you’re holding is the 1/10 version. I heard the ¾ is the most popular. And hey, yours sell a lot, second to Otowa-san!” Kento-kun explained enthusiastically.
“Why do you have 3 Majesty figures, too? Did you buy them for private collections?”
“Ask Toru-kun about that. He likes that sort of things.”
“Shit! Keep your hands outta my stuffs, newcomer!” Toru-kun slammed the door angrily, “You just arrived here and already made me boiled? You better just say your compensations right away!”
“Calm down there, buddy. He just asked a few wishy-washy questions, right, Kaito?”
“Not really....” said Kaito-kun honestly.
Infuriated, Toru-kun fisted his hands and clenched his teeth. But he put his palm on his head and backed away from his rival. Kaito-kun’s eyes softened. His hands shut tight, apologized.
“Anyway, we’re gonna have fun at 3 p.m. We will announce our collaboration, next single and next concert date! Let’s head down to FujiTV studio, pals!” Kento-kun tried to break the ice between the two.
“I’m trying to back you up, you naive boy,” Kento-kun grabbed Kaito-kun’s collar and pinched his cheek lightly.
It was September...
“I’m not sure we are able to release this single...” Toru-kun sat down, looking at his two friends. One of them looked very pale. Kento-kun approached Kaito-kun and patted his head.
“Are you sick? You look like you’re gonna collapse.”
“I never thought your dance movements are exhausting. We, in 3 Majesty, have a slower tempo. Yours are so upbeat. It’s kinda hard to follow. But, don’t worry. I’m not quitting. Let’s give the best to our fans.” Kaito-kun’s smiled. His eyes narrowed. His cheeks went red due to his body heat. Toru-kun peeked him from Kento-kun’s broad shoulders. Kaito-kun’s words had moved him. Suddenly, Toru-kun felt an additional energy flew through his blood veins. Maybe it was adrenaline rush.
“It will be released two weeks from now. September 26th. We still have time to catch up with our dance session. Kaito is doing a great job in his singing part. So powerful yet soft. If we invest our time more to practice the dance part, we’ll be ready,” Kento-kun suggested.
“We’re hitting recording room at 20th. Now, we will review our dance part once more before going home....”
Two hours later...
Kaito-kun walked down the road and was heading to a small cafe located a few blocks after his office when he saw Tsukasa-san and Kyoya-kun. They entered the cafe leisurely. It was a rare occasion seeing Tsukasa-san going out not alone for lunch. He was the practical type who liked to do everything efficiently. Did Kyoya-kun invite him? Kaito-kun asked himself. He thought it as a strategy to get them closer. He understood that a good relationship between partners would affect their outcomes.
His hands pushed the door handle. The bell chimed twice and a sweet voice greeted him.
“Welcome! May I take your order?”
That girl, dressed in waitress suit, pointed him to an empty seat. Kaito-kun unplugged his earphones and ordered sweet tea and fish&chips. Before she left, Kaito-kun took a glance at her nameplate. ALISA.
Kaito-kun recalled his experiences from the past months. Poll result, exchanging members, training, quarrelling etc. all stuck in his head. He loved his job so much but sometimes it was just too difficult to handle. He wanted to take a vacation once in a while. He could not find the right time. So, every break time he was grateful he could let out some air.
Kaito-kun did not want to be seen by Tsukasa-san and Kyoya-kun so he covered his face with random magazine when they passed him. Fortunately, they were too focused with their conversation. They vanished from Kaito-kun’s sight momentarily.
He called Alisa-chan for the bill. He paid it and was ready to leave before she stopped him.
“Ano... Kaito-sama, ano... Kaito-kun. Would you mind signing up my CD?” Alisa-chan thrusted the CD case to him.
“No. Not at all,” Kaito-kun quickly scribbled his signature, “Thanks for your support, Alisa-chan.” She giggled when she saw her name under his signature. She quickly resumed to her position after hearing her boss coughed.
Seeing dedicated fan like Alisa-chan made him gained more confidence about next concert. Of course, being an idol was to get money for living. But he was aspired to help people find happiness through his songs. He was a square man.
At the dance practice room...
Kaito-kun swung his hands according to the music’s beat. His breath was not rushed anymore. He counterbalanced the others.
“Well done, pals!” Kento-kun commented happily. He could go home earlier than expected.
“Thank you, guys. I’m sure tomorrow’s recording session will run smoothly,”
“After the recording, I invite you all to the cafe. We’ll fill our stomach.”
“Nice idea, Kento-sempai,” Kaito-kun agreed.
The next day...
“Say, Kaito, what do you expect from our concert?” Kento-kun inquired. He munched his pork steak loudly. He leaned his head to the chair and stabbed the remaining meat with his fork.
“Fun things... a lot of fun things...,” Kaito-kun spreaded salt to his salad. Toru-kun covered his nose and sneezed.
“Bless you,” said Kento-kun, still munching.
“It’s not pepper, though,” Kaito-kun frowned, checking the label.
“Guys, for the upcoming concert, make sure you rest well. We must perform at the top notch condition. Do you understand?” Kento-kun raised his fork. The others replied by tossing their forks together.
November 25th, before the concert...
“Where should I move after the lights turn green? OK. Do you bring my snacks?”
“Toru-kun, you look so energetic as always,” Kento-kun handed him a purple Soyjoy and mineral water. His eyes observed the stage, then the tribunes. But he did not find Kaito-kun everywhere.
“Where is he?”
“Ngg... probably taking a pee. Ah, there he is. Uh, Kaito-kun, how’s your preparation? Hey, are you happier than usual? You look... shiny....”
“Shiny, huh? No, it’s just because I am too excited for this! Our single topped the chart in just a moment after release. Also, our PV. Damn, I personally like it very much. Working with you isn’t a bad idea. No. I don’t mean that way. It exceeds my expectations, really.”
“You’re welcome, X.I.P. exchange member,” Toru-kun touched his right shoulder, “It’s nice working with you, too.”
“What day is it today, Xippers? This is a special day for us and especially one of our members. Here, right here,” Kento-kun patted Kaito-kun’s back, “Our exchange member Tsuji Kaito birthday is today.” The fans cheered. Kaito-kun startled. He knew sooner or later there would be a surprise party. He did not expect it, though. But it surely would happen. He did not expect what he saw. Hundreds of fans, on Kento-kun’s command, all at once lifted pieces of cardboards that formed “HAPPY 23TH BIRTHDAY, TSUJI KAITO. WE ♥ YOU.” One of the fans, who held the ♥ piece, was none other than Alisa-chan. She screamed, squeed, almost could not control herself when their eyes met.
The next day...
Kaito-kun lied down on the sofa at his apartment. His body was sore as a result of yesterday’s concert. He navigated through his cellphone and read the messages.
From : Tsukasa-san
To : Me
Message : Great accomplishments require great people. You have many more accomplishments to cover and achieve. Wishing you health, happiness and love on your special day and always! Have a wonderful birthday! Kirishima Tsukasa.
From : Otowa
To : Me
Message : Are you having fun at XIP? I miss you. Next week, when you back to 3 Majesty, we’re having an extended party. Love, Otowa.
From : Kento-sempai
To : Me
Message : Happy birthday, X.I.P. [sub]. Yesterday’s concert was a blast. Thank you, and thank you again. Kento.
From : Kyoya-sempai
To : Me
Message : I heard you concert was very succesful. So, how’s your experience in singing my parts? Please share your experiments later. And a belated happy birthday to you. Date Kyoya.
From : Toru-kun
To : Me
Message : I hope my present suits your taste. I forgive you. Kanzaki.
Kaito-kun took a small box wrapped with purple paper. He teared up the package. Inside, there was a birthday card with the exact same message and a 1/10 figure of him wearing X.I.P.’s uniform. He chuckled.