124 Part 3
Well… How am I going to ask him about that?
As Haruki stared at his hands, which rested on his knees, Kagemitsu broke the ice.
“Sorry if that was just too abrupt. The truth is, I’m interested in you and in your future.”
“… I have no interest in men.”
“That’s not what I meant!”
Kagemitsu slammed on the table with his open palm.
A young lady’s shrill voice echoed in excitement from somewhere.
“That’s not what I mean. I’m interested in how much of the dungeon can you defeat in the near future.”
“Ah, I see. You should have said so earlier. It’s easy to misunderstand what you just said.”
“Don’t get me wrong!”
A tsundere? Kyaa!
The young ladies seemed to be very excited about something.
They were very well trained in skillfully refilling their empty glasses.
“No matter how strong you become in the future, it’s entirely possible that you don’t end up standing out at all.”
“B-But I’ll get strong enough to be noticeable one day!”
“I’m just saying that it’s possible that you won’t stand out either way, that’s all.”
Kagemitsu’s words were like a sharp lance that threatened to burst Haruki’s bubble.
Those words pierced into his soft heart as if it were butter.
Then, Kagemitsu changed to a more flattering tone of voice.
“That’s where cooperating with me comes in.”
The tide had turned.
Haruki sensed the change in the mood and corrected his posture.
“This is just a draft for now, but… The idea is that you act on my behalf, and in return, I advertise on your behalf. You become the front face, while I work behind the scenes.
That way, you’ll be able to gain a stronger presence by taking the front stage, and I’ll be able to fade into the shadows of the backstage.”
“Ah, like an entertainment agency.”
“Yeah, something like that… I guess?”
“I’ll be the entertainer and you’ll be the manager.”
“Hmm… Yeah, exactly.”
Kagemitsu nodded vaguely at Haruki’s analogy.
He seemed like he had something he wanted to say, but didn’t have the heart to.
Haruki thought his reaction was adorable, so he let it slide.
“But still, this is just an idea for now. We still need to think hard about how to make you stand out, and very much so.”
“Why do you say that?”
Kagemitsu looked away while sipping on his mizuwari.
His face had “No comment” written all over it.
“So, by joining forces with you, you don’t mean I’ll be a formal member of Team Aerial, right?”
“That’s the idea. If you become part of our team, I think you’ll have a hard time standing out on your own.”
“Guh… I can’t say you’re wrong.”
Supposing Haruki became a member of Team Aerial, and produced many great results.
In that case, people’s reaction to that would be more likely to be “Aerial is amazing” rather than “Haruki is amazing”.
Haruki couldn’t deny that fact.
When it came to increasing one’s presence, it still would be more effective to work with a well-known team than to belong to a well-known team.
“I’ll do my best working behind the scenes. You do your best on the front stage. That’s the kind of relationship I’d like for us to have.”
“I see. It sounds interesting, but is it really okay for you, Kagemitsu?”
“What do you mean?”
“If this goes like you say, I might end up taking some of your credit. Are you really okay with that?”
“Of course. Rather than fame, what I really want is peace of mind…”
Haruki couldn’t understand how going behind the scenes would give someone peace of mind.
However, he could see that there was something in for Kagemitsu as well.
This proposition was beneficial for both Kagemitsu and Haruki alike.
“What does the rest of your team say about this?”
“I haven’t told them anything yet.”
“That’s no good…”
“That’s why I’m saying this is just an idea for now.”
Kagemitsu smiled and drank the rest of his mizuwari in one gulp.
“When I was working on this idea, I thought I had to ask you about it first. I wanted to ease it out on you before talking to my team.”
“Yeah… But that…”
“That’s still no good? Well, that may be the case. But I want to work with you.”
I want to work with you.
Those words hit Haruki as if he had been grabbed by the collar.
Back when he was working for a printing company, he would often be told “I would like to work with your company.”
However, he had never been told “I wanted to work with you.”
How many working people in the world have had the experience of being told that?
It was a very rare thing to hear, something he ought to be thankful for. Something people normally wouldn’t get no matter how much they wished for it.
Haruki trembled with excitement, slid his mask to the side so as to hide his emotions, and drank his mizuwari in one gulp.
“Got it. Let me think about it.”
“Sure. Once I have something more solid, I’ll discuss it with the rest of my team. If they’re okay with it, then I hope you’ll be joining me in this.
Haruki and Kagemitsu smiled and lightly clinked each other’s glasses and said “cheers”.