Translated and Edited by: luccayn.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
-senpai: A common suffix and noun used to address or refer to one’s older or more senior colleagues in a school, workplace, dojo, or sports club.
During my day off, I seriously racked my brain over what to do. The source of my distress was, of course, it. The thing Ayaka had mentioned last Friday had been eating away at me for a while now.
“You don’t have to be so nervous,” Saki told me as if it were nothing, lounging around in the same room I was in.
“Saki, you might not get it, but I’m not an ‘outdoors’ kinda guy. Not even an extrovert for that matter…” An image of people giving speeches to the whole student body flashed through my mind like a horror movie. The mere thought of standing there, surrounded by eyes, it… It was just impossible for me.
I thought back to what happened on Friday.
“Vocals, huh…” I hesitated.
“Yeah, that’s right! It’s a tradition that’s been passed down through the council, so refusing is not an option. It happened to everyone.”
Suddenly I felt like quitting the council altogether.
“By the way, is playing an instrument not allowed?”
“Hmm? Didn’t you say you couldn’t do that earlier?”
“Yes, but the cultural festival is still almost a month away… I’ll seriously learn to play an instrument if it means I don’t have to do vocals.”
“That’s a no-go,” Saki was the one to stop me, not Ayaka.
“I mean, isn’t it more fun to sing as a pair (couple) than solo?”
“You meant two things there.”
Saki was driven by her own earthly desires and cravings, so her opinion was out. I sought help from other people.
“Akito, I did it last year…” Yuki raised her hand.
“She did it with me!” Karen raised her hand.
The two had sung together, it seems. I mean, I could see Karen doing something like this clear as day, but Yuki as well…?
“Well, it is what it is. You’re a confirmed vocalist now, Akito. Besides, we spent a whole year teaching ourselves how to properly play the instruments. Wouldn’t want that to go to waste now, would we?”
The seniors nodded sincerely.
“Second-years sing, and third-years play the instruments. This tradition has been passed down for ages now. In fact, it should be in the minutes you’ve read a while ago.”
“Oh, now that you mention it…”
I pulled this memory out of my mind, and sure enough, it was written in passing.
“See, no running from it. You and Saki-chan will be singing.”
Seeing as I had no veto power, I could only nod.
“Also, I’ll tell you one more thing. You can think of it as another tradition or a superstition of some kind,” Ayaka added. “There’s a saying which states that if the Matsugaku Festival volunteers don’t win, the current executive members won’t be able to succeed and inherit the president and vice positions. Conversely, if they do win, the vocalists of that grade can properly take on the mantle.”
It went from 0 to 100 really quickly. Sure, there was a sudden pressure now that she said that, but I had no interest in becoming president. One glance to the side told me Saki was gunning for that position though.
“Alright!” Her eyes burned asunder.
I reluctantly agreed to the tradition, but it was still tough on me. Pacing around, I drowned in my own regret.
“C’mon, Akito! It’s time to make up your mind!”
“It’s not that easy…”
She looked at me with slightly peeved eyes. I mean, it was high time I took the reins indeed, but I couldn’t help it. The more I imagined myself standing in front of dozens I felt my own viscera shake.
“Ugh… What should I do? What should I do?!”
“Embarrassing…” She looked at me with more exasperation than any sort of disgust.
Truth be told, I’d been thinking that if things came down to it, I might have to beg for an instrument or behind-the-scenes role, even if I had to kneel down for it.
“Oh, how ’bout this?” Her eyes lit up with some idea.
“What?” I asked, but before I could even react, she started taking off her pants. “Saki! I told you changing out of the blue in front of me was bad, didn’t I?!”
“Ah, sorry. But just hurry up and change.”
“We’re going on a date.”
Her offer was sudden, but I had nothing else I could do. Hence I changed my clothes as she asked.
Saki and I headed to the station after a few minutes. Since it was around noon, we had lunch at McDonald’s together before heading to our destination, whatever it was.
“Here we are,” we stopped at a place called Beckoning Cat.
“It’s a karaoke. Let’s just check in for now,” she said, going to the receptionist and paying for our time. It didn’t take long and we headed into one of the rooms as prompted.
“Wow, so this is a karaoke room…” Surrounded by shiny monitors and weird, specialized equipment, I felt a slight rush of nervousness.
“Mhm. I mean, it’s also my first time here.”
She was just so confident about it, it didn’t look that way.
“Yes. Let’s be grateful to Room 203 where we lost our firsts.”
“That’s one way to say it…”
Saki started selecting songs. “Oh, looks like there’s a scoring mode,” she mused.
“Nah, we don’t need that. It’d be too shocking if my score was low…”
“Right. In that case, let’s play with a rule where the loser must obey the winner for a day.
“Don’t add a punishment just because I lack confidence…”
“Dictators often make laws to suit their own convenience.”
“Yup. Deja vu.”
I felt it wasn’t the first time she said that phrase.
“Okay, I’ll start then.”
Her choice was a love ballad. It didn’t take long for her to start, and as she did it dawned on me. Wasn’t she a bit too good? I mean, she didn’t miss a single note as per her stable pitch bar. More than scores, though, her voice was beautiful. She reached the highs and hit even the lows that were typically difficult for women.
“Haah…” She finished. “How was it?”
“You’re too good. I’m captivated…”
My words came from the heart. The machine agreed, a beeping 96 plastered on it.
“Hehe, I do have a bit of confidence in my singing.”
“No, you were really amazing. Better than most idols and singers I’ve heard!”
“S-Saying that much… I’m embarrassed…”
Though I was just an ignorant listener, I thought her singing was genuinely perfect. “With this, my punishment is sealed already, haha,” I selected my song with a chuckle.
“Oh, Akito. You into anime songs?”
“Yeah, and you know them well.”
“They were promoting it so loudly on TV; I couldn’t help but know.”
“That’s true,” I chuckled again. “Should I start now?
I had done some basic singing practice before coming here. The thing I heard was most important from my research was to sing from the diaphragm. Doing so from the throat could potentially damage it, as far as I know.
The song I chose was originally performed by a woman. Since I’m a guy, my vocal range might not be enough, so paying attention to my falsetto and chest voice was key, as I read on the internet.
“Alright,” I breathed in and out, slowly.
“Give it your best shot!”
With her encouragement, I started singing.
Wow, singing from the diaphragm really makes it easier… Time to raise my tone. I should reduce my chest voice and increase my falsetto. Oh, I’m off the pitchbar! Oh no!
I got lost in the singing. As soon as I realized, it was over.
“Whew, I’m tired,” I plopped down on the couch and took a deep breath as soon as I could.
Is going to a karaoke really this energy-consuming?
All in all, there was a nice sense of fulfillment rising in my chest. It was more fun than I’d expected.
“Oh, how was I…?” It suddenly occurred to me we were here together, so I turned to ask her. She was quaking in her feet.
“Not fair…” She mumbled something I couldn’t quite hear.
“What was that?”
“Akito, that’s not fait! You can sing really, really well!”
“No, I mean, it’s my first time…”
I checked for the first time, and the score beeped a 97.
“Geez! I feel like such a tool for coming to the karaoke every week just to train for today!”
“Huh? You did that?”
“I did! I was planning to give you lots of orders you couldn’t refuse!”
That was her strategy, and she had that planned from the very beginning. No wonder she was so primed for it! Honestly, I feel like I dodged a tactical nuke.
“Ugh, I feel in love with my boyfriend all over again, but why do I feel so defeated?”
“Dunno,” I shrugged.
“Well, anyway, I didn’t say it was one round. If I win more from now on, it won’t matter!” She scooted to select another song.
Still, setting aside her little schemes, singing turned out to be way more enjoyable than I ever gave it credit for.
“Take it easy,” I told her with a chuckle.
After that, we both had a blast until the time ran out.
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