Chapter 64:

Volume 3, Chapter 10: Someone New

Heroes of the Past

I entered the student lounge, searching for Zhuyu. Oh, there he was. The zero vector user sat with Shan. Zhuyu ate a sandwich, staring at a notebook. Shan stared at his laptop, tapping his pencil on a blank piece of paper. A name and heading was on it, but nothing else. An unfamiliar person sat with them as well.Bookmark here

“Dude, my life sucks. It’s only the first day of class, but I already feel lazy,” the stranger remarked.Bookmark here

“You’ll be fine. I believe in you,” Zhuyu said, taking out his phone.Bookmark here

“Bro, you might believe in me. But, I don’t even believe in myself. I have to get a really good grade in my design class,” he replied.Bookmark here

I took a seat at their table. Shan moved his paper, still focused on his laptop screen. As expected, it displayed manga.Bookmark here

“Tomo, how was your first class?” Zhuyu questioned, finishing his sandwich.Bookmark here

“It was okay. When do you have class?” I asked.Bookmark here

“In an hour. Oh, this is Jacque. He’s pretty pessimistic about life,” he introduced.Bookmark here

“If you ever need someone to make you feel good about life, he’s the one you want,” Shan added.Bookmark here

Jacque, huh? He appeared white, but I felt like he was mixed. His stubbled facial hair contrasted with everyone else’s clean shaven faces. The man also had slightly curved, medium length hair.Bookmark here

“Hey, nice to meet you,” he greeted.Bookmark here

“I’m Tomo Yuki. How long have you known these guys?” I answered.Bookmark here

“I’ve known Long since last spring quarter and Shigetzu for about the same amount of time,” Jacque answered.Bookmark here

“Not too long then,” I said.Bookmark here

“How do you know them? Through class?” Jacque asked, taking out a large sketchbook.Bookmark here

“Something like that, it was through a mutual friend,” I answered with care.Bookmark here

“Cool, well, I’m pretty much here not doing work, so I guess you can say it’s a normal day like always,” Jacque revealed.Bookmark here

“Do you just not do anything here? Is that okay, I mean, don’t you have regrets about it?” I questioned, confused about how calm they were.Bookmark here

“Hey, I actually do work. Shigetzu and Jacque sometimes do too. We get things done eventually,” Zhuyu exclaimed.Bookmark here

“I don’t know about that. I would fall behind pulling that off,” I remarked.Bookmark here

Jacque sketched, erasing every few minutes. Shan actually did work for once. He drew crude diagrams along with large amounts of numbers and complicated equations. Zhuyu pulled out a book from his backpack, reading it. Looked they were capable of being productive after all.Bookmark here

I went over my lecture notes, highlighting important equations. A woman approached our table as I flipped open my chem textbook. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place from where. Zhuyu glanced up from his book, noticing her.Bookmark here

“Zhuyu, where’s Jin?” the woman questioned.Bookmark here

“In class, I think,” the vector manipulating hero replied.Bookmark here

“I thought he might be here. Thanks,” the woman furrowed her brows, leaving right away.Bookmark here

“She could have just texted him,” Zhuyu muttered, returning to his book.Bookmark here

“Who was that?” I inquired.Bookmark here

“One of Jin’s friends from biology. She knows Felicity from somewhere too. I don’t know her too well,” Zhuyu answered.Bookmark here

“You know her name, at least, right?” I expected.Bookmark here

“Melody. She was at the Christmas party,” he replied.Bookmark here

I recalled vaguely seeing her. Kisai knew a fair amount of people. That should be no surprise, considering his friendliness.Bookmark here

“I got a text from Darryl. Check it out,” Shan said, placing his phone on the table.Bookmark here

Zhuyu looked down at the screen and smiled. He chuckled, shaking his head in amusement. He checked the clock on the wall and then packed up his stuff.Bookmark here

“I have class now. I’ll see you guys later,” Zhuyu announced.Bookmark here

Wait, I had class too. Checking my schedule again, I blinked and made sure my eyes did not deceive me.Bookmark here

“Shan, do you know where this building is?” I asked, showing him the location.Bookmark here

“Uh, it’s off campus. Within walking distance from the physics building,” Shan answered.Bookmark here

“That’s pretty far. I should have checked the location when I registered,” I realized.Bookmark here

“You still have fifteen minutes. You’ll get to class in time,” Shan assured me.Bookmark here

When I finally found the classroom, there were only three minutes left before class started. Damn, this sucked. All the seats were filled up, the few open were in the very back. The professor spoke in a soft tone, not projecting his voice. I spent the class writing disjointed notes, marking places to come back to. With chemistry and this class done, only math remained. I felt no joy, walking toward the center of campus.Bookmark here

I sighed once in math class. The university structure for the subject made it difficult for me to grasp. Well, I managed to keep up last quarter, so hopefully the same occurred this quarter too. I felt disparaged once class ended. The professor skipped steps in his work, speeding through the lecture. He wrote on an old-fashioned overhead projector, the ones that made loud whirring noises. His penmanship was sloppy, forcing me to spend five minutes deciphering the numbers.Bookmark here

Arriving home, I took out my math notebook. The second example provided in class was a mess. Maybe Yukie could help? Knocking on her room door, I waited thirty seconds, but heard nothing. She might be in the garage working on something like last time. Just in case, I turned the doorknob and peered inside. As expected, no one. I could wait and ask her after dinner. For now, I would focus on my other classes.Bookmark here

“Yuki! Are you there?” Yukie called my name.Bookmark here

I checked the time, seeing it was already past five. Yukie stood outside my room with an apron on.Bookmark here

“Dinner’s ready. Uncle called and said he would be late, so it’ll be just you and me,” Yukie announced.Bookmark here

“What about Mom?” I followed Yukie downstairs.Bookmark here

“Auntie said she’s busy at one a friend’s house. I don’t quite know the details,” Yukie replied.Bookmark here

“I see. Thanks for making dinner like always,” I said.Bookmark here

I expected the usual three or four dishes, but only saw one. It was wide rice noodles with sliced pieces of beef and various other toppings.Bookmark here

“Sorry if it’s a little plain. I spent too much time working on my project and forgot the time. I’ll apologize in advance if it’s not up to your standards,” Yukie said.Bookmark here

“I’m sure it’ll be good. I mean better than anything I can make,” I dismissed her criticisms.Bookmark here

I took a bite and of course it was good. Everything Yukie made so far impressed. This time was no exception. I explained my math problem to Yukie, hoping she could assist me. Yukie nodded, eating with elegance, leaving no food stains on the table.Bookmark here

“I understand,” Yukie nodded, placing her chopsticks down.Bookmark here

“Really? I haven’t even shown you the problem,” I asked.Bookmark here

“The basic structure of the problem is not too hard. If it’s just the numbers you need, I can backtrack and figure them out,” Yukie revealed.Bookmark here

“Wow, that’s really impressive. Okay, I’ll show you my notes later then,” I complimented her.Bookmark here

Yukie nodded, cleaning up the table. I returned to my room, reading for my chemistry class. My cousin knocked on my door soon after. I handed over my notes and Yukie requested lined paper. I dug through my backpack, handing her a sheet. I continued reading, checking on her progress every few minutes.Bookmark here

“Okay, I’m done. Here you go,” Yukie finally said.Bookmark here

I took the piece of paper, glancing at her work. Yukie’s handwriting was impeccable and concise. Everything made sense. It was on par with Tess, but with differences. Tess’ explanations focused more on the mechanics of the problem, dissecting it apart into individual parts which relied on prior knowledge. Yukie’s explanations were broader, intended more for a non-mathematical expert.Bookmark here

“Thank you so much for this. I’ll find some way to repay you for this,” I said.Bookmark here

“The hospitality you’ve shown me is enough of a repayment. You may consult me anytime you wish as long as I’m not busy,” Yukie shook her head.Bookmark here

I really was grateful for her help. Her explanations felt more, how to say, natural than Tess’. Nothing against the Gatekeeper, of course. She was no doubt skilled, but her notes were dry and hard to read. After finishing up the assigned chemistry reading, it was time for bed. The first day wasn’t too bad. Hopefully the quarter would progress like this every day. However, such hopes were misplaced, considering my luck so far.Bookmark here

Winter Quarter 2016 Week 1 TuesdayBookmark here

After barely catching the bus, I headed toward the back. Sitting down, I reached into my backpack for Yukie’s book, staring at the people around me. A woman with glasses and a loose ponytail writing on her tablet caught my eye.Bookmark here

“Good morning, Tomo,” Kyoi greeted, putting her stylus away.Bookmark here

“Kyoi, this is… a rare sight. Never expected to see you here,” I answered.Bookmark here

“I’m not Felicity. Unfortunately, I do not have butlers and maids serving me. I take the bus just like everyone else,” Kyoi said with a slight smile.Bookmark here

“I see,” I said, taken aback by her response.Bookmark here

“Tomo, we will train on Friday night. This should be the best option, as it will give you ample time to complete any assignments on the weekend,” Kyoi informed me.Bookmark here

“What? I haven’t even… fine. I’m assuming you’ll be there,” I protested, but gave up.Bookmark here

“I expected some resistance, but it appears you’ve made up your mind. That’s good to know. You can’t go into this half-heartedly. By the way, how was your first day of winter quarter?” Kyoi questioned.Bookmark here

“Alright, but my math professor is a pain though,” I replied.Bookmark here

“Talk to Long. If it’s the same one I think it is, you might want to ask him for any old notes or tests,” Kyoi suggested.Bookmark here

Why was Kyoi so nice today? Not to mention, she was wearing glasses which felt weird. In my mind, she was always the type of person to have her hair untied. Her personality in battles clashed too much with her current one, too much dissonance. Regardless, she did make a good point.Bookmark here

After chemistry lab, I headed toward the student lounge. Shan and Ko were present, but not Zhuyu. I took a seat at the table, witnessing Shan jot down similar diagrams as last time.Bookmark here

“Yuki! It’s been awhile, I’m so excited to see you! How have you been?” Ko greeted me with an immense amount of energy.Bookmark here

“Alright. Ko, you’re pretty pumped up. Is she always like this?” I asked Shan.Bookmark here

“Eh, it depends. Ask her to tell you some amazing stories that have happened to her,” Shan responded.Bookmark here

I glanced at Ko, who responded with a smile. I’m sure she had some great stories, but this wasn’t the right time. Plus, they were probably weird, considering the type of person Ko was.Bookmark here

“Shan, where’s Zhuyu?” I asked, looking around the area.Bookmark here

“He doesn’t have class today. Did you need him for something?” Shan informed me.Bookmark here

“I guess it isn’t important. Just something math related,” I replied.Bookmark here

“You could ask Tess anytime. I’m sure she’ll help you,” Shan recommended.Bookmark here

“Yeah, but I feel like I’ve been too much of a burden for her already,” I revealed.Bookmark here

“Oh, oh! Yuki, did you know tacocat is tacocat spelled backwards?” Ko suddenly exclaimed, giving me an expectant look.Bookmark here

I blinked, lacking a proper response. I gauged Shan’s reaction, hoping for a hint about handling her sudden words. Shan looked indifferent and stared at his laptop without saying anything. Oh come on, don’t do this to me. I know you heard it, don’t pretend.Bookmark here

“I…. did not know that. You must really like cats,” I mustered.Bookmark here

“I love cats! They are amazing. Sometimes, I rub my head against my cat’s fur to relax,” Ko remarked, nodding her head.Bookmark here

That was obviously the wrong response. Time to reevaluate my options. Could I just stop talking and hope Ko would do the same? Maybe Shan would lend a helping hand. Judging from experience, I doubt that would occur. Fine, no choice, but to continue this conversation.Bookmark here

“I see. How many cats do you own?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Four and a dog, but I’ll be moving into an apartment nearby soon. I don’t know if I can take my cats with me. I’ll really miss them,” Ko replied.Bookmark here

Taking a closer look at Ko, she wore a beanie with a cute cat face design on it. Her love for cats was definitely strong. At least I knew what to get her for a present, if the situation ever arose.Bookmark here

“Yuki, have you ever…,” Ko began.Bookmark here

“Ko, don’t scare her like that. Tomo is traumatized by your exuberant display of affection for cats,” Shan finally joined the conversation.Bookmark here

“Oh, that might have a bit too much. Yuki, how have you liked college so far?” Ko asked, changing the conversation to a more standard topic.Bookmark here

“It’s been tough, I guess,” I answered.Bookmark here

“Hmm, I can definitely understand. Oh, today’s Tuesday! I have work, time to check the bus schedule before I’m late!” Ko realized, taking out her phone.Bookmark here

While she checked her phone, I pulled out my chemistry notes. Although there wasn’t lecture today, I still wanted to review. Shan, at times wrote on his piece of paper.Bookmark here

“I have to get going now! See you tomorrow!” Ko said, waving goodbye.Bookmark here

Shan nodded at her words, writing down numbers on his piece of paper. I felt relieved. Ko was a weird person and I didn’t think I would get used to that for awhile.Bookmark here

“Where does Ko work?” I asked, curious about the type of work a person like her did.Bookmark here

“She’s an assistant advisor at a school somewhere,” Shan revealed.Bookmark here

Well, that was unexpected. I didn’t know Ko too well, but that kind of job didn’t seem to fit her. However, outward appearances were often deceiving. Still, I wondered if her students held the same opinion of her as I did. She was probably more competent during her job. I mean, she had to be, right?Bookmark here

Another school day passed by. I arrived home later than yesterday, after Felicity asked to compare notes. Yukie was already in the kitchen, helping Mom out.Bookmark here

“Yuki, you’re home. I wish you could cook as well as your cousin. It would make life much easier for me, you know?” Mom said.Bookmark here

“Auntie, you shouldn’t be so hard on Yuki. She does what she can,” Yukie defended me, flipping a piece of fish.Bookmark here

“I have to get on her case sometimes. It would be terrible if she can’t cook for herself when she’s finally out of this house,” Mom grinned.Bookmark here

“That’s true. If you ever require assistance in this area, I shall provide it,” Yukie offered up her expertise.Bookmark here

“I appreciate it. Everything looks good,” I said, glancing at the food.Bookmark here

After dinner, I headed up to my room. Friday was a training day. In that case, I needed to take care of any potential homework. Checking the syllabus, there was indeed a chemistry assignment due on Friday. I began working on it, hoping the first week’s assignment wasn’t too hard. I moved away from my computer and then realized I probably had math homework too. I checked the math class syllabus, seeing no homework due on the first week. Oh, what a lucky break. Time to keep going, and see how much more I could finish, before it was eleven.Bookmark here

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