Tuesday - 11:30
I woke up and realized immediately that a few things were off. For one, I wasn't in my bedroom but in the emergency room. Second, I wasn't sweating at all like I usually did after waking up, which was a surprising relief. Lastly, it was way later than when I usually woke up. Judging by the sun's position outside, it must have been closer to noon.
I looked around the room and noted the two other people in the room. Thaddeus was still asleep on another cot, and Tamari was reading a book by the door. It presented a golden opportunity for me to pull a prank on Tamari.
I kept the sleeping ruse up for a little while longer and shuffled my position under the covers a couple of times before pretending to sleep-talk. "Uhhh, no. Don't do that. It isn't right. We mustn't." I peeked an eye open and saw Tamari's head shoot up towards me and she quickly got out of her chair.
To avoid being too obvious, I kept things vague for now. "I didn't realize that you liked me that way. I always liked you too, though I couldn't admit that to you." I saw through the slit of my eye that Tamari had now reached the bedside.
It was time to pick things up a notch. "In truth, I always loved you, Ta-... Tam-...Tamaki. OUCH!"
Tamari had flicked my ear, and none too gently at that. "I know that you are awake, Tobias."
I opened my eyes, ditching the ruse, and grinned sheepishly. "Well, you can't blame me for trying. When did you figure it out?"
"I suspected from the very beginning," she answered. "I know you well enough to realize when you are trying to mess with me. Plus, you were too cheesy at the end, fishing for a name that sounded like mine. It was too obvious."
"Guess I will try to need to try harder next time." I sat up over the side of his bed. "So, Tammy. How lo-." Before I could finish, Tamari gave me a hard hug that lasted a couple of seconds. It completely blindsided me. I couldn't even hug her back; I was in such shock. The moment was over almost as soon as it happened.
Tamari let go of me and stood up straight. "We were both worried about you Tobias. Terry and myself, I mean. We weren't sure if you would even wake up today, which is why Terry went back to his office to continue giving out the assignments."
I recovered and immediately went on the offensive. "What was with the hug, Tammy? I couldn't tell if it was out of affection or if you were just trying to finish what the truck started. OUCH!"
She had flicked my ear again, even harder this time. "If you keep up that nonsense, I really will finish you off."
I sighed with a smile. "Duly noted. As I was about to ask before getting pleasantly interrupted: How long was I out for?"
Tamari looked at her watch before answering. "About twenty hours."
"And how is my pupil?" I asked, walking up to Thaddeus' cot.
"He is in the same condition that you were in," she answered. "The doctors said that he should wake up soon. You are probably starving. I brought your clothes. You can change into them and then get ready to go to lunch. It will be an interesting meal."
Indeed, it would be a spectacle. If this was the first lunch since the accident, the cafeteria would be replaying my failed attempt in all of its historic glory.
"Suddenly, I am not so hungry anymore," I fibbed, turning away from where Thaddeus slept.
Tamari rolled her eyes, held up her hand, and started flicking the air repeatedly. "What was that?"
"Nothing," I said quickly. "I am starving."
* * *
Tuesday – 12:00
For once, there wasn't a crowd awaiting me as I walked into the cafeteria at lunchtime. Everybody just hung back, staring at me and murmuring to each other in hushed tones. The news had apparently already spread of his botched mission. The lack of praise and free space was such an alien feeling, but it felt wonderful. In fact, I was feeling better now than I had in years.
Once they sat down and started eating, Tamari broke the silence with a question. "You still remember when we first sat down in this room together?"
"Of course I remember," I answered. "How could I forget? The time I made the bet with the stroller. You helped me win a little pile of cash that day. Why are you bringing that up now?"
Before Tamari could answer, another person sat at their table and unceremoniously dumped their tray next to Tamari. It was Terry.
"Tobias, it's nice to see you out of bed," Terry said. "You should have called to let me know Tamari. Or did you perhaps want to have a little one on one time with Tobias?"
That earned Terry a flick on the ear as well. Apparently, neither of Terry's apprentices had any qualms squaring off with their mentor.
"I didn't bother calling you," Tamari said, "since it just happened and I knew you would be coming up to eat lunch either way and would see us."
Terry raised an eyebrow in skepticism and was looked like he was about to argue when the screen in the front of the cafeteria came down.
Three videos played before my video. Two from R-rank and one from C-rank, all of which were successful. Finally, it was my turn, and the room got even more silent. The scene from yesterday was displayed on the screen, and I got to witness the accident from another angle. The boy walked in the street, eyes on her phone, and the boy pushed her out of the way, putting himself in the truck's path. However, the truck became unbalanced, started swerving, and ended up crashing after missing the target. The scene played again in slow motion from different angles, and it became clear that my suspicion about a popped tire being the culprit was the truth. I had heard the pop first hand, though I hadn't experienced other popped tires in my life to be sure of it.
After my failed mission finished playing, the screen displayed the agent rankings. I was still far in the lead, though I did lose a decent amount of points after the failure. The screen retracted back into the ceiling, and everyone turned back to eat their lunches. After finishing his meal, I asked Terry about the accident. "What condition is the truck in?"
"It is badly damaged," Terry answered sadly. "You might need to get a new truck. You can ask the repair shop about it. You should also get their opinion on the popped tire as well about whether it was accidental or not."
I nodded. "Yeah. I will do that later today."
Tamari chose that moment to chime in. "It clearly wasn't an accident. The timing was too convenient."
"That doesn't prove anything," Terry told her. "Nothing be done without proof. I am going through the camera feeds to see if perhaps they caught anything, but they only record when the truck is on. So it's a long shot. We will get to the bottom of it, though.
I remained silent during their continued back and forth on the matter. I didn't dare say it out loud, but I didn't really care that much about the cause of the accident. At least, not for my own sake. I quite enjoyed the good dreams I had and wasn't thrilled to return to the nightmares yet. But I would still look into it for Thaddeus' sake.
I got up to put away my tray and nearly bumped right into the twins, who also appeared to be cleaning up their trays.
"Hey, look who it is, Thomas," said Timothy. "It's the soon-to-be dethroned T-rank legend, Tobias. Apparently, he has gotten so bad he can't even drive in a straight line anymore.
I ignored the comment and kept walking past them. It would take more than that to bait me.
"You are correct brother," Timothy answered. "I hear that it wasn't an accident though. Rumor has it that his trainee is really annoying. He probably preferred crashing than listening to him any longer and-"
Before I realized what I was doing, I had punched him in the face.
Timothy fell to the floor, dazed. As Thomas bent down to help his brother, I stared at my clenched fist in awe. I had never been pushed to hit somebody before. I hated fights and violence, even though that might be seen as ironic considering my profession. I wouldn't fight for my own sake, but once they got on the topic of insulting my trainee, who was still unconscious, then it became a different story.
As I continued to stare at his fist, I realized that my temper had been unleashed in that one moment, and now other emotions rushed in to replace it, including honor, pride, and contentment. I wasn't quite sure if they were the cause of my determination or perhaps the adrenaline pumping through my veins. What I did know was that I was filled with an urge to stand up for my pupil. I couldn't exactly describe the source, but that didn't stop the wonderful feeling that coursed throughout my body. It was time to teach some punks a lesson.