It has been a very long time. I hope people who reads this will read the newest chapter I'll be leaving here today.
I hope everyone will like it.
Holding the receipt of our lunch, the numbers on it was being too unfriendly with me. I know if I paid this, then I would become broke until I get my money from my parents by the end of next week. I looked at the members of AKB who dined with me this afternoon. They were all insistent to make Minami pay and as it were a great solution for my problem, my conscience wouldn’t actually let me take the offer. “It’s okay Takahashi-san. I’ll pay for my own food.” The leader of AKB48’s team A looked back at me with a confused look. “It’s fine. I only have a big bill with me so it’s fine.” I shook my head in disagreement, “No, no. If you pay with that, then I’ll just pay you.” Minami looked like she was really having a hard time. She was being told by her friends to pay for me but I kept insisting her not to. I guess, I know her pain at some point in my life. “Let her pay for your food, Akira!” Yuko insisted. “If you don’t do what nyan-nyan told you earlier, I’ll get mad at you.” She said it like she was really serious on getting mad at me and that scared me. I didn’t want any of the AKB members to get mad at me. I won’t take it very well since I don’t want to have any enemies and people angry at me.
“Just let her pay for it. I know Minami knows the consequence of dragging someone to eat lunch with her.” Sayaka reasoned, observing my reaction. “Wait a minute! I was not the one who dragged Akira to eat lunch!” The leader of Team A countered but was still taking out the amount of money from her wallet. I went staring at Sayaka and then at Minami. I was quite confused on what they had been debating about this entire time while we were also debating on who was going to pay my food. It has been that way when they even went to get me from my office earlier. They were always playing with Minami, which I’m quite aware of even before, but this playing with ME in it, I don’t quite get it.
I stopped staring at Minami when someone suddenly tapped my left shoulder. I turned and was surprised on who were standing behind me. “Yo, Akira!” The cheerful girl greeted. “Aaa.. yo…” Was the only answer I could give while staring at the faces of the people behind me. “Say Akira, we didn’t know you eat here?” the other girl asked as she observed who I was with. “It was an unexpected lunch -” but before I could finish my sentence, Yuko suddenly blurted out a continuation of it, “DATE!” The group I was facing suddenly went into silence and I was surprised. I looked at Yuko but she evaded my stare and focused herself to her Nyan-Nyan. Minami suddenly understood the awkward situation and scolded Yuko for it, with Sayaka backing her up. I sighed, I just hope Saki didn’t hear any of it but when I looked back to the group behind me, I couldn’t help but to be nervous. There she was, talking to her group which made her constantly look at me and to my current companions.
Before they even finished, Minami tapped my shoulder and my gaze went back to her. “Since, I think, you won’t let me pay for the full price, then let’s just go with what the others wanted, I’ll pay for half and you pay for the other half.” She explained as she started doing the math. I was still hung-over with the fact that Berryz might have told Saki about what Yuko said earlier. I don’t want any misunderstandings with Saki. I was going to agree with Minami when a voice spoke on my behalf. “I’ll pay for Akira’s half.” With that familiar voice, I knew it was Saki and when I looked behind me, indeed, she was there, standing with a smile.
The AKB members with me looked at her and I could see all of them were curious on who she was. Before I could even tell them, the girl beside Minami stood up and went beside me. “You’re Shimizu Saki, right?” With a smile, the leader of Berryz Koubou nodded as an answer and when she did, Sayaka suddenly stood up and went beside Atsuko, “Eh! Really? The leader of Hello!Project is here?” I was being pushed aside when Sayaka and Atsuko suddenly wanted to talk to the new Hello!Project leader after the graduation of the former leader.
When I knew this would be longer than expected, I looked at my wallet and took out the half of the bill for my food but when I handed it to Minami, she slowly pushed it away and told me she already paid our food, mine and hers. “Wait, what? I thought we’ll be paying for half?” I asked with a confused look on my face. “It’s fine. You were distracted for a little while so I took the opportunity to just pay for it.” I was surprised and went into silence. The only thing I could say to her was thank you as I put the money back in my wallet. I’ll definitely pay her back in some other way.
After a few minutes, Sayaka and Atsuko went back to their seats and went into paying their own food while Haruna and Yuko also debate on who will pay for their food. Minami, whom was sitting beside Atsuko, was silent. I excused myself and went to where Berryz was sitting. When I was finally there, I wanted to talk to Saki but she only told me that I am already late for work and we could talk about it once I get home later tonight. I finally realized that I was already late for work and quickly went back to the table where AKB were sitting. When I got there, they were already ready to go and were waiting for me. We then walked back to our office building. Before parting ways in the corridor, I thanked Minami, Atsuko, Sayaka, Haruna and Yuko for the wonderful lunch. “You’re welcome.” Sayaka answered. “Come eat again with us tomorrow!” Yuko added as they went back to their rehearsal room.
Back in my office, I was greeted with a pile of papers beside my computer. I knew being late would entail me to rush and cram everything till the last minute, meaning I might be coming home late tonight. I fixed the pile of papers before starting on the very first order. “Why am I doing this to myself?” I asked myself in a whisper before getting my groove to my work. It was a pain to do everything without any mistakes but in a fast pace. It wouldn’t make you finish it in one go, you need to check each video to see flaws before submitting it to higher ups to check. I guess this is how everything works, now that I’m doing the video editing for AKB. It was not that pressured to do leisure work for fellow students who need their video projects edited. I earn a profit out of those and enough to at least pull me through three days. Well, that was back in my home country. What I earn here is thrice higher but entails more work load. I don’t care anyway, I love this work, and at least I won’t be a burden to my family.
As I go about my thoughts while editing the videos I needed to, I finally finished half of the papers on my desk and I guess I would be coming home early. Lifting the next paper on the pile, the door suddenly opened and I was once again, startled. The paper I was holding went flying and landed on the head of the person who opened the door; my boss.
“I see you’ve finished half of the papers I left you after lunch.” He snickered as he went straight in front of me and I knew what was next. He furrowed his eyes, glared at me, and pointed his finger. “You know what I don’t like my employees to do?” He was staring at me with that death glare and I knew I’m really in a pinch. “It’s being LATE!” He suddenly shouted and everyone outside my office; the assistant and fellow media staff had stopped on their work and peeked around the corner to eavesdrop. “You have your lunch break at exactly twelve noon and it ends at one in the afternoon. I came here at one and your lights were off, your computer was off, you were nowhere to be seen!” I wanted to say my apology for being late but even before I could say anything; he always ends up saying something. “You came back around two in the afternoon, an hour late from your time for work!” I stood up slowly and before he could say anything else, I bowed in front of him as I said my apology. “I’m sorry! I’m really sorry for coming late!” I stood straight and bowed another time. “I had lunch with some friends and I forgot to check the time.” I stood straight again, looking at my boss with a sincere and apologetic face before bowing again. “I’m really sorry! It won’t happen again!” I finally ended but didn’t stand back straight as I was waiting for his answer.
He sighed and I could feel he was calm again. “I want all these papers and the videos on my table before the offices close tonight.” He sighed again and I could hear him walking towards the door. “I’ll accept your apology when you get them in by then.” I finally heard the things I was yearning for him to say. I don’t want him to get mad at me. I know it was my fault for not standing up to Sayaka earlier, and so I know I need to face the consequences of my actions. I finally stood straight and looked at my boss with a smile. “Thank you very much!” I bowed again before looking at him. “If only your talent is not as amazing as it is, I would have fired you as soon as I entered this room.”
I was happy that I had another chance and with what he said before leaving my room, I saw it as a wakeup call that I should consider. They see my work as amazing and they believed in me to make these videos for AKB48. They trust me to do my part and I will. I won’t disappoint him again. I closed my office door before going back to the table to finish the next half of my work.MEANWHILE, near AKB48’s rehearsal room.
News had been traveling fast as the news of Akira being scolded for being late had reached the other side of the building. AKB48 members were already having their fifteen minute water break and some were outside the rehearsal room to get water from a nearby vending machine. One of the members was Minami and Sayaka who were talking about the things they need to step up with in the rehearsals. “We need to bring out our arms like how Yuko does.” Sayaka explained to Minami as the Team A leader takes her water from the opening of the vending machine. “Yeah, I guess we should. We could ask Yuko to teach us how.” The leader of Team K nodded in agreement. At the same time, two media staff assistants stopped beside them since they would also want to get something to drink. The two leaders couldn’t help but listen to their conversation.
“Did you hear?” The man started with a whisper as he then tried to hide what he was about to tell his companion. “Akira was scolded for being late.” The other looked at him in confusion, “Are we talking about Akira Suchihiro? She wouldn’t be scolded in any way. She’s kind of perfect on her job.” The other heaved a sigh, “Yes she’s perfect for the job but she was late for work.”
“How could she be late? I saw her come an hour earlier this morning.”
“No no, not this morning, this afternoon. She came an hour late.”
“Oh really? I wouldn’t have thought she would be late.”
“Me too! Her boss really yelled at her in her office.”
“Isn’t that a bit harsh for her very first late for work?”
The two leaders find the two staff’s conversation was a bit surprising. They had come back from lunch with Akira and they really had fun, although, they forgot one thing. They forgot to tell her boss that they dragged her to eat with them, resulting to her tardiness. Minami and Sayaka looked at each other with eyes wide. “We forgot!” Sayaka blurted out before leading the way to the office of Akira’s boss. While there, they explained that they were the ones who were responsible for making Akira late for work. They also explained that they dragged her to eat lunch even though she was actually telling them that she’ll be late for work.4 hours passed…
“Finally! I finished it!” I gathered all the papers and discs where I saved all the videos I made and carried them to my boss’ office. When I walked out my door, one of my assistants asked if I would like some help on carrying all the papers and disc casings. I would love some help but I declined. This was my fault so I need to do this by myself.
I was finally standing in front of his door. Glancing on my watch, I still made it. Closing time is still twenty minutes from then but I was still a bit nervous. I finally knocked on his door and he answered to let myself in. When I did, I presented him with all my work and it was a bit unusual. He was smiling now and had a lighter expression on his face. “Wasn’t he angry at me hours ago?” I whispered to myself. “All is here?” He asked as he inspected all his orders had been done. “Yes. Everything is there.” I answered, hoping he will take them and would forgive my tardiness.
I waited for him to tell me what to do next and when he looked at me, I knew he was going to say something. “These are, as always, amazing work from you, just as how I expected it.” I was ready to smile but I know it would ruin the moment. “I’m sorry for scolding you earlier, but I needed to do it.” I nodded. I knew it was my fault but he didn’t need to apologize for it. “You said you ate lunch with your friends. You didn’t mention your friends were AKB.” I looked at him surprised. How did he know I was with AKB earlier? “Takahashi and Akimoto came by earlier to explain why you were late. I told them that I will let it slip this time but next time, I’ll be giving you a serious penalty.” I nodded intently, as I was really glad that this was now good. I just need to not screw up again. “Thank you for your hard work today.” He finally said before sending me out the door so I could go home. “One last thing…” I stopped and looked back at my boss, “Don’t destroy your new relationship with your new friends.” I just stared at him as he ended, “Take care as you go home.”
I smiled at him before walking back to my office to fix my things and to close my office. As I entered I placed my laptop, house keys, wallet and my pen and paper in my bag before slinging it on my shoulder. After closing the door and locking it, my assistant bid me farewell. I was kind of surprised seeing her still there. “Why are you still here? Didn’t you go home with your friends?” She shook her head as we started walking to the buildings front door, “You should have walked with them. It’s going to be dark soon.” I explained and looked outside as the glass door was in front of us, “See, it’s already dark.”
When we stepped out of the building, she said goodbye in a hurry. It was a little awkward but I just shoved it off. “Ano…”
I looked around. That voice was too familiar to miss. I knew whom it was from; I just don’t know where she was. I was actually feeling a bit nervous. If the voice really came to the person I am thinking of right now, I wouldn’t know how to interact with her. “Suchihiro-san?” I looked behind and she was there. I fixed myself, looking at her with a smile. “Ah! Takahashi-san. Why are you still here? Did rehearsals end late?”
She looked at me with a smile of her own and explained, “Ah. No, no. I was going to walk home with Sayaka and Acchan, but when I came out, they already left.” I looked at her ready to chuckle but I held it in, just to not tease her. “Well, it’s already dark, can you go home yourself?” I asked; a little worried since it is already dark and well, I don’t like people going out dark, especially friends of mine. If they want to go out at dark or go home at dark, I would volunteer to go with them. I guess, I was just raised in a place where we don’t naturally go out at dark and if we do, we’ll always be in pairs. Well, Japan is different from my home country but still, I wouldn’t risk it.
“Say, I can take you home. Well… I don’t have a car or a motorbike. So I guess we can take a cab.” I then looked at the street to wait for a cab. “N-no. It’s okay. I can go home by myself.” I looked back at her and it looked like she was embarrassed. Had I said anything? Wait, I didn’t mean it like she’s a kid or something. “Ah! I-I didn’t mean to…”
She smiled and made me stop. “No, it’s okay. I understand.” She answered as she stood beside me. “My house is near here, we can walk. You don’t need to spend for a cab.” I smiled slightly as I could feel little sweat coming from my head. “Oh, okay. Then let’s go.”
We walked towards her house and it was true, it was not that far. Although it entails walking, it was not that tiring as I expected. I guess I am getting used to walking more. We were quit on the way. I had no idea what to ask her or talk to her about. It was when she was in front of her house that I got to sincerely thank you for today. “Takahashi-san…” She looked at me with her usual curious face you see in TV or in AKB’s backstage shoots. “Thank you for lunch today and also for telling my boss that I was with you.” She smiled and tapped my shoulder, “It’s ok. We had fun and we got to know you more. Thank you for coming with us, but I’m sorry for making Sayaka drag you out.” I shook my head, “It’s fine. She also knew I hadn’t eaten anything, so I thank you and her for forcing me not to miss lunch.”
Feeling a little embarrassed since I just revealed I really hadn’t eaten lunch yet that time. Looking at her though, makes me a bit, calm, rather than nervous. I guess, I’m getting used to seeing her and being able to talk to her casually. “Thank you for walking me home Suchihiro-san.” I answered with a smile. “You’re welcome. Oh, and you can just call me Akira.” Minami looked at me a bit surprised but she also agreed to let me call her Minami. I think it’s a bit soon to call her Minami but if that’s what she wanted, then it’s okay. “You should go in now. It’s going to get colder out here. It’s best to be warm.” I told her, making our few seconds of silence end. She nodded and went to unlock the front door. As for me, I won’t leave until she’s inside the house. I just want to be sure she’s home and safe before I leave.
I waited as she finally opened the door, but before she went in, she looked back at me, “Good night, Akira.” It was the first time I heard her call me by my first name and it made me happy. It had always been my dream to meet all my favorite singers and groups and I still couldn’t believe it is already happening. First was with Berryz and Saki. Now was with AKB and Minami. For the last tonight, I looked at Minami with a gentle smile and also told her good night, before seeing her close her door and for me to walk home.
It has been fun today, though, there is still one thing I need to clear up, I hope Saki is waiting for me at the apartment.