“So, what exactly is the deal with this sheet music?”
The moment we arrived at the hotel, she had pulled every sheaf out of the box and laid them all out on the floor. From among them she had picked out three solitary musical scores, and now she was looking these over.
The others had been tossed to the side after a cursory flipping-through.
If she didn’t need most of this stuff, why had she made me carry the whole heavy thing? And who was she expecting to clean up after—
My phone alarm rang. We were approaching the time for her appointment at the studio.
As much as I wanted to let her immerse herself in this project, there was her next performance to think about. Daily rehearsals were necessary to keep her in top form.
I drew near and spoke to her.
“It’s time to rehearse.”
This wasn’t going to work. I couldn’t force her in moments like this. When she was absorbed in this sort of meditation, I had to choose my timing very, very carefully.
Once, when her brooding over what to play for an encore was eating up the time remaining before we had to move, I had interrupted her by force, and her mood had been sour for the entire day.
So, what now…?
At that moment, the sound of heavily distorted electric guitar came from her own phone.
It was the guitar solo from “Love Out of Reach,” the song she had written.
Hearing it always hurt.
“Hey. You done with work?”
“Oh, good, it went well. That cellist hates the media about as much as I do… But you probably managed to make the interview go disgustingly quick, like you do. Huh? Thank me? No, don’t worry. Just get me some more of that nasty curry and we’ll be square.”
For goodness’s sake… She always looked so happy when she was talking to Kitahara-senpai.
And the pink tinge in her cheeks was absolutely adorable.
It was a little infuriating.
“Yeah, yeah. Any time after morning hits in Japan is fine. Wait, you asked Setsuna to—fourteen-hour time difference… It’s three in the morning in Japan! What the hell are you thinking?!”
She had moved the phone away from her ear to shout into it directly.
“She’s probably awake right now. When she puts the kids to bed she goes to sleep with them, then wakes up again later, and it’s usually around now.”
Senpai’s voice was audible.
“And, she was at home. I got a reply pretty much immediately after I sent it.”
“W-Well… If you say so. I wasn’t planning to pull Setsuna into it. Now I feel bad.”
She puffed out her cheeks slightly.
She was probably more irritated at being in Setsuna’s debt than angry about having involved her.
“By the way, just to check, considering the piece we’re talking about, has anything happened?”
“Well, I don’t know.”
She smiled, seemingly having regained her footing a little.
“The stuff you requested, I’ll fax it to you tomorrow. Let me know as soon as you know. Also, is Sugiura-san there?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah, she is.”
“Let me talk to her.”
“Haruki says to let him talk to you, Koharu-chan.”
As she handed me her phone, I caught something a little sullen in her bearing.
“Keep it short. It’s almost time for my rehearsal at the studio.”
That ought to be my line…
“What is it?”
“We haven’t talked in so long, and your greeting to me is ‘What is it?’?”
“I don’t believe it’s my job to get wedged in the middle here,” I said, slightly peevishly.
Even after all this time, I couldn’t keep myself from getting prickly with Kitahara-senpai.
Whenever I watched Kazusa-san talking with Senpai, whether she seemed happy or unhappy, something about it nettled me, and actually hurt a bit…
“I have a favor to ask. If any of those documents beyond the sheet music has any information clarifying the origins of their owner, I want you to hang onto them. Also, if you find anything handwritten, say poetry or prose, keep that, too.”
“I mean, if what she’s thinking is true, it could end up being pretty interesting.”
“Oh, did Kazusa-san tell you something, Senpai?”
“No, I just guessed.”
“What on earth is this about?”
“That’s something for us to look forward to later. Later.”
And Senpai hung up.
We hadn’t talked in so long, and he just cut it off suddenly with nothing more than a “Later”…?
I moved the phone away from my ear, looked at the contact screen with the name “Haruki” and a photograph (looking somewhat handsome, to my great frustration), and frowned.
“What, did he hang up?” Kazusa asked. “What’s with him? He never does that with me. Rude.”
“Indeed…” With some reproach in my eyes, I handed Kazusa-san’s phone back to her.
I could send the accusation of rudeness her way, too, for keeping me out of the loop.
But so it went.
I still had no place in that perfect triangle.
She laced her fingers together and stretched her arms up high.
“All right. Rehearsal?”