“Huh, so you intended the double entendre. Nu. Oh, looks like they’re finally reaching their limit.”
What a brazen confession. Shinichi would complain, but something changed. Up until now, Monica had been able to continue the rehearsal without singing, but she finally ran out of excuses to delay.
The members on stage have already prepared everything, setting the stage as if this were the actual performance. Of course, other than the costumes and other staging aspects.
But regardless, the stage was ready for Monica. All that was left was for the signal to be given, for the music to start, for the backup dancers to dance, and for Monica to start singing, but…
Monica stood at the center in front of the microphone.
On her face was a seriousness and confidence that said she was taking this as though it were the real thing.
But Shinichi and Myuhi could clearly see the fear written on her.
Myuhi figured it would probably be better to stop her.
Because the Monica right now couldn’t sing.
Myuhi took a step forward intending to do just that, but Shinichi grabbed her shoulders before she could.
She looked at him as though to ask why, but Shinichi just looked at Monica and shook his head.
That was his answer. The intentions behind that befuddled Myuhi, but she nodded nonetheless and looked back at Monica.
The performance had already begun. As expected of a professional band, or perhaps this was simply the level of the era’s icon, allowing a performance that even an amateur couldn’t tell was their first collaboration.
As the dancers embellished the performance, Monica gripped the microphone tightly and opened her mouth.
When the prelude concluded, she opened her mouth.
But the only voice the microphone picked up was that of a choked voice, and the song that should have started failed to start. The other band members and the dancers too stopped.
No one was more shocked about that than Monica, and when she realized that a staff member had approached her, she responded with a smile, apologizing for stopping the performance and asking for another attempt.
“That stubborn girl. I’ll leave the rest to you.”
Shinichi’s face had been expressionless until now, but his face twisted in discomfort and left behind those words before quickly going to Monica.
“Yes, yes, go ahead and go gather some points.”
Myuhi teased. Shinichi didn’t turn around, but his voice changed into that of displeasure as he responded with this.
“Don’t be stupid. I just can’t stand people like me.”
Myuhi didn’t understand what he meant by that, but Shinichi went ahead and stood before Monica. Eyes naturally gathered on him, but Monica’s eyes remained shut as she held the microphone.
“I’m alright now. Let’s try again. Huh?”
“What you’re alright now? You fool.”
The moment she opened her eyes, she noticed the boy before her and was shocked. She could see his normal appearance, and on it was clearly written his displeasure. The moment she noticed that, his hand moved.
Shinichi clapped her face from side to side, causing the staff behind to be shocked. Only a few of the remaining staff recognized him from before and reasoned it away as him being up to his usual antics. It was only for a short time that he indiscriminately captured people, but he was so intense at it that they immediately got used to it.
“Whach are chu joing?”
“Hmph, quit making a stupid face.”
Monica slapped away his arms and was about to say that he was the one who was making her make that stupid face, but before she could, the arms she’d slapped had already grabbed her by the waist.
“Huh? W-What are you doing? Kyaa!?”
“Hmph. You’re better trained than I thought. Looks like it’s true that singers need a lot of stamina.”
Before she could even understand what was going on, Shinichi picked up her body and made an unnecessary remark. Unfortunately, she couldn’t even spare any attention to that before Shinichi put her on his shoulders despite all of the eyes on them right now.
“W-Wait a moment! What’s going on!? Put me down! The rehearsal is still ongoing!”
“We’re taking a break.”
She cried out in confusion, but then Shinichi took the microphone and told everyone that one-sidedly.
“We’re taking a 30 minutes break, so all of you rest for now.”
He didn’t even wait to see their response before he left the stage, completely ignoring Monica who kept on hitting him on his back.
Seeing him up to his antics again, the managers chased after him.
“Do you mind leaving the rest to my employer?”
But Myuhi stood in their way with a gentle expression and voice. The pressure emanating from her face made them back off, and they didn’t try to approach again.
“Seriously, just what is going on!?”
Shinichi dragged her into the makeshift waiting room, and made her sit on one of the folding chairs.
He ignored all of her complaints and shouts as he silently moved a chair to face hers.
He directly gazed at Monica with an emotionless expression that revealed nothing.
It was an intense stare that made Monica unable to help herself but catch her breath. Even she wasn’t entirely sure why she reacted that way earlier.
“I’m gonna need to paid more.”
As a result, he ended up taking her by surprise when he asked and puzzled her.
“The job is a lot harder than I thought, so the pay doesn’t match anymore.”
“You dragged me out of rehearsal for this!?”
She’d always considered that paying just one ticket to clean up this mess to be too cheap, so she didn’t think there was anything wrong with him asking for a bigger pay, but she still yelled because that was no reason for him to drag her out like this.
“Don’t worry about it. I don’t mind.”
“Why would it matter if you don’t mind?”
But he ignored all of her complaints and just casually said that in response, causing Monica to hold her head from the pain.
“The recent dispute over the compensation is still fresh in my memory, though, and I remember how I struggled with what pay to receive.”
“Yeah, you’re not going to listen to my opinion, are you?”
“But now that I think about it, you’ve always had something with you that you can give without leaving a trace.”
“Enough with the prelude. What do you want?”
She was thinking of giving him whatever he demanded then quickly going back to the rehearsal, but then he demanded something unthinkable.
Monica let out a voice and made an expression that seemed so absent-minded, as though she couldn’t grasp what he was saying at all. Perhaps not being able to understand was in itself a sign that her current state of mind was far from normal. However, Shinichi continued the conversation as if he knew nothing about her confusion. He smiled at her defiantly.
“Since you make a living with your songs, then you can just repay me with a song. I won’t be able to hear your song properly tomorrow anyway, and you had such a big mouth back at the church too about how amazing your singing is, so you better make sure to please me. Otherwise, I’ll have to rack my head to figure out a new payment.”
That’s if you can do it, of course, he seemed to say with his arrogant expression and attitude.
He really seemed to be looking down on her, so Monica stood up in a fit of anger, her face twitching.
“A guy like you is seriously!—Ah.”
But then a certain gentle voice suddenly passed through her head, and she found herself slumping into the chair as though she’d lost her strength. She covered her face with her hands.
It was curious if she was embarrassed or frustrated, but whatever complicated expression she was wearing right now, she chose to hide it.
“Uu… You almost got me again, but you can’t pull the same trick on me twice on the same day! I’m not that stupid!”
Monica glared at Shinichi with an almost scornful gaze as though to say that he shouldn’t make fun of her, but Shinichi just feigned innocence and tilted his head.
No, in fact, it was worse, as he made an expression that seemed to be saying, ‘what is this idiot saying?’ That rubbed Monica the wrong way, but she endured it.
“Good grief. So I was the one who was absent minded, not you. I can’t believe I would be led around by the nose by a child’s provocation, and now, I’m being encouraged by the same trick.”
Pathetic, she seemed to say as she limply shook her head. When Shinichi saw that, he stopped treating her poorly.
“…Being the big brother sure is hard,” he said.
TL Note: Hi, guys. Thank you for all your support until now, but unfortunately, we’ll have to drop KMF. There’s just not enough readers left for it.