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Chapter 156 – Childhood Friend Left Behind

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Author: Hidsuki Shihou Original Source: Syosetu Word Count: 3356 characters
Translator: PunishedLyly English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1579 words
Editor(s): Fire

Only a few days of winter break remain. Unlike with the start of January, today’s pretty uneventful, so I have some peace for the first time in a while. However, there were visitors who would break this peace. I expected this, and honestly, they appeared later than I thought.

“Again, why do you guys come here before break time?”
“We can’t help it; we are actually famous, you know?”

Isami and the gang arrived right before my break started. When was the last time we saw each other? I noticed that they didn’t join the New Year Incident, but they seem to be doing well. Things must have been tough for their agency.

“You guys did something fun without us this New Year. The agency went all out to confine us.”
“We were absolutely restrained. I wonder where the information leak came from.”

Hajime stared directly at me, but there’s no way I’ll admit it. I informed Yui just in case. All I said was that I was up to something, so the EXIST members might want to join, that’s all. I guess the agency couldn’t allow them to cause a ruckus right after their first appearance in Red and White.

“I have no idea.”
“So, Koto-chan, when are you going to sign into the agency? This time, we’ll be joining the fight too!”
“We’re already done with that matter.”

Hearing my response, everyone muttered, “Eh?” in surprise before freezing up. You think I’d ask you guys for advice in regards to my future? I just know that you’ll absolutely try to rope me into something that’s more convenient for you. That’s why I wanted to have it resolved quickly.

“I haven’t heard anything about that!”
“That’s weird. Yui was called to the Kisaragi house to settle things.”

So they still haven’t been told about it? I did find it weird that they weren’t there when I signed my contract. I was so sure that they’d come I even warned the Kisaragi family servants that some weirdos might come by. I was relieved when they didn’t come, though.

“We’ll have to interrogate Yui later.”
“Stop that. You guys should have already caused enough problems.”

I don’t know if I should call it growth or bad influence from them, but Yui has gotten pretty unwavering these days. Even when she was in the residence of the twelve families, she didn’t shrink back at all. On the opposite end, the company manager who came with her got really nervous.

“Still, with this, we can perform with Koto-chan!”
“I’m not doing it, okay.”
“Wait, did you refuse?”
“No, I agreed to the contract itself.”

It became hard for me to refuse since mom was pretty enthusiastic about it, but my biggest hurdle was, honestly, Sherry. With her influence as a member of the twelve families, even my stupid father agreed to have me make an official debut because of her endorsement.

“Who could have expected support fire to come from the Shimotsuki family?”
“Did something big happen?”
“Typical abuse of power for stupid stuff. I got completely surrounded and had no way to escape.”

I wasn’t allowed even the smallest chance to escape. A big part of it was the fact that she prepared enough evidence to persuade my parents. Well, I’m partly at fault for providing it myself. I didn’t think that my stupid father would watch the footage sent by the Shimotsuki family.

“Then why won’t you perform with us?”
“I forbid showing my face. I had it written on the contract that my face will not be shown at all for any appearances, concerts, and even record jackets.”

It was the least I could do to resist. Singing in front of a crowd is considerably tough for Kotone. So why not have my identity completely hidden? Yui and the company manager were against it, but since I said I wouldn’t sign otherwise, they reluctantly agreed.

“Ughhh, having a live concert with Koto-chan is my dream, though.”
“Give up on that. Besides, I won’t be performing much at all until I graduate.”
“How thorough of you. I guess it really is still Sou deep down.”

I don’t want to waste my school life working away. Though I probably don’t sound convincing when I’m currently at my part-time job. For me, enjoying your youth is what gives meaning to being a student. There are some who enjoyed it so much that they turned into idiots. Like these guys in front of me.

“So you’re going with your artist name. The unknown singer, huh.”
“That seems to be the only option. A member of the twelve families pursuing a career in singing is bound to attract attention. If I’m going to be a singer, I’d rather be recognized for my talent rather than my background.”

“You’re quite dedicated to it. Garnering attention is the first hurdle you’ll have to overcome. Even we struggled with that in the beginning.”
“We put in a lot of effort back then. Though I don’t recall us being as reckless as we are now. We never intended to lose our spark, but I’ve noticed that Souji’s presence really influences our behavior.”
“Souji truly changes the dynamic of the group. I used to think I couldn’t be as carefree as I was in high school, but now it’s different.”
“I feel the same way. I realized I became more reserved than Shinpachi. I felt uneasy. I wasn’t sure how far I could push things. But when I first met you, Kotone, I felt like I could entrust everything to you. Since then, I’ve regained my confidence and felt free to act as I please, just like in the past.”

They must have subconsciously sensed that Kotone and Souji were the same people. They didn’t have the evidence to back it up. But still, there’s just a tiny discrepancy in their story.

“If I didn’t know that your previous manager ran away, this probably would’ve been touching.”

Isami and Shinpachi both averted their eyes. Hajime had a wry smile, while Toshizou is unreadable as usual. Don’t make lies that are easy to refute.

“We really were more reserved at first. But since we didn’t make much of a splash, we were told to bring out more of ourselves, and it ended up with us going back to our old ways.”
“I honestly can’t imagine you guys being reserved.”

They’re always boisterous and rowdy in my mind. That pretty much describes the rogue’s den as a whole. Still, it seems they were affected by my death, and I do feel bad about that, but it was unavoidable even for me. There was no way I would have expected a co-worker to kill me.

“If you join us, we might return to being as lively as we were back then.”
“I plan on being a solo act, so we probably won’t perform together.”
“We’re absolutely not allowing that! We’re definitely making a collab happen!”

I’m begging you, please let me be alone. I know for sure that if you guys get involved, I’ll be flooded with attention. Sherry is already enough of a problem. I still haven’t told her that I signed with an agency.

“I’m not going to lose to Sherry!”
“Against someone as big as her, I don’t think you have a fair chance.”

Hearing my words, three nod in agreement. Sherry is a major artist and a member of the twelve families. She’s already near unbeatable with these factors, but she’s also very pushy and persuasive. I don’t think I can win against her.

“Also, could you guys go home now? You’re eating into my break time.”
“Talking to us is pretty therapeutic, don’t you think?”
“It’s just stressing me out, idiot.”
“So mean!”

In the end, they stuck on until the end of my break. Still, I do carry some blame for being soft on them. Break time should’ve been my time to relax, but I only accumulated exhaustion. I guess I get what I deserve.

“Yahoo, Kotone! You’re looking exhausted.”
“A lot happened, Harumi.”

A few minutes after break time ended and they left, Harumi and Miyako came to the cafe. Come to think of it, this is probably our first time seeing each other this winter break. I’ve been occupied with my personal businesses lately, but I really have to value my relationships.

“Kotone, do you have any interest in winter sports?”
“You mean skiing or snowboarding?”

That would be nice, but the ski place is pretty far from here. Traveling by car like we did last summer is probably not viable. It’ll cost us a lot of travel expenses, and if we’re traveling that far, we should at least stay for the night.

“We got a reservation at a hot spring hotel for you.”
“It’s just as Miyako said. We couldn’t make any memories during the field trip, so it’s time to make up for it!”

Since you put it that way, I can’t turn it down. With the New Year’s Gift I got from home, my wallet is pretty warm. Having a one-night and two-day hot spring trip doesn’t sound bad at all. But the sharp stares from a certain table are stabbing right into me. How do I persuade Akira and the others? That is the question.


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