Chapter 97:

Volume 4, Chapter 10: Winter Quarter 2016 Finals Week

Heroes of the Past

Sunday Winter Quarter 2010 Finals Week Day 1Bookmark here

I stared at the math final, feeling both confusion and confidence. Not the greatest combination. Professor Nen wore a black T-shirt, a stylized muffin design on it. His wrinkled face was in a snarl because he caught students using unauthorized calculators. Yuki, don’t be scared. Zhuyu provided excellent tips, just calm down, and recall them. Tess and Yukie also helped out! Don’t let them down.Bookmark here

I gauged the classroom atmosphere, inspecting how other students felt. An uncomfortable silence occurred once someone encountered a hard problem. I finished the first three problems without issues. Now came the hard part. Damn, it was an approximation problem, involving a bunch of trig substitutions. After struggling through it for twenty minutes, I checked the chalkboard, still an hour and half left. Two problems remained and still an enormous amount of double checking left.Bookmark here

“Ninety minutes. Make sure you leave answers in exact form. No partial credit given, unless it’s within the accepted error range, or the steps up to a certain point are plausible and clear,” Professor Nen warned, writing the time remaining.Bookmark here

Thanks, Professor. Some students raised their heads at the announcement, complete dismay on their faces. Others continued working, masking their true emotions of fear and shock. I saw one student cry silent tears.Bookmark here

“Hey, no unnecessary noise. Have respect for your fellow students!” Professor Nen shouted, hearing the sniffling of someone else tearing up.Bookmark here

“Damn, what’s wrong with Professor Nen?” someone whispered.Bookmark here

“Shut up! My math grade is already bad,” another responded.Bookmark here

Professor Nen stared in their direction, but did nothing. He scowled for a brief second. I hadn’t seen him like this, since…. well, the day a few students showed up late. Finally, only five minutes remained. I stared at the board as Professor Nen wrote a five. The TA’s all gathered at the front, preparing to collect exams. Damn it, those three problems at the end were challenging. I would receive partial credit, but would that be enough for a 3.0? I recalled Jacque’s ever popular phrase, “fuck my life”. Nope, don’t delve into any negativity.Bookmark here

“Time’s up. Pencil’s down. There’s a one minute grace period to finish anything you’re on. If I or the TA’s see you still working after this one minute grace period, you will be deducted points. That one minute grace period begins now!” Professor Nen instructed, crossing his arms, as his eyes swept the room.Bookmark here

“No talking about the test until you’re out of the room,” one of the TA’s reminded, taking a student’s exam.Bookmark here

I stood up, handing my exam over to my TA. She gave me a smile. I wish I could do the same. If the exam was difficult for me, perhaps it was the same for everyone else. Walking out of the exam room, I saw Kristoph nearby. Like with all the other exams, he had a sullen face.Bookmark here

“Kristoph, how did you do?” I asked, catching up to him.Bookmark here

“Hey, Tomo. Uh, I rather not talk about it, pretty sure I failed,” Kristoph answered.Bookmark here

“It couldn’t have been that bad, right? You didn’t have Professor Nen,” I tried encouraging him.Bookmark here

“Didn’t make the test any easier. Fuck work, so hard when I have to do it every day,” Kristoph lamented.Bookmark here

“Sounds pretty bad. Hey, we’re done with winter quarter though! You have spring break to look forward to!” I said.Bookmark here

“Just means more time at work. Damn it! Why didn’t I choose a community college? I wouldn’t have to worry so much,” Kristoph regretted.Bookmark here

I walked with him for a few minutes before going our separate ways. I drove home, feeling relieved my math exam was over. Now to worry about the upcoming ones. Hm, how to approach this? Look at old exams or review the midterms? Better check my midterms first and see how much I could still do.Bookmark here

“Yukie, what are you doing?” I asked, seeing her in the living room, after arriving home.Bookmark here

“Welcome home, Yuki. Just looking over notes for my tests,” Yukie answered, showing me her notebook.Bookmark here

“I rarely see you studying here,” I remarked.Bookmark here

“I wasn’t able to focus since I kept thinking about my projects. I thought a change of scenery would help,” Yukie replied.Bookmark here

“Oh, I forgot to ask, but whens your exam? If it’s the same day, I can drive you,” I inquired.Bookmark here

“Tuesday and Thursday,” Yukie replied.Bookmark here

“Oh, perfect. I have a final on Tuesday and my last one is on Wednesday. I’ll take you both days,” I offered.Bookmark here

“Are you sure it’s not a bother on Thursday?” Yukie asked.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll see if any of my friends are around and waste time until you’re done,” I assured her.Bookmark here

“If you insist, I will accept,” Yukie nodded.Bookmark here

“Great, it’s settled then. Alright, I should go study myself. Good luck, Yukie,” I encouraged.Bookmark here

“You too,” Yukie said.Bookmark here

I saw my phone ring after dinner, Felicity’s name on the screen. Probably wanted to study together.Bookmark here

“Hey, Felicity,” I greeted.Bookmark here

“Yuki, Yuki! You’ve got to help me out. I know everything, but I’m already freaking out I don’t. You have to help me calm down. Let’s start studying together right now!” Felicity shouted.Bookmark here

“Felicity, just slow it down,” I said.Bookmark here

“Okay, okay…. damn it, Yuki! I can’t, too worried about the exam. Yuki, I’m coming over right now!” Felicity decided.Bookmark here

“Hey, Fel….,” I said, but she already hung up.Bookmark here

Twenty minutes later, I heard frantic footsteps, and Felicity burst into my room. She put half her makeup on and decided not to finish the rest. Her hair was in disarray, strands of it sticking out everywhere.Bookmark here

“Um, Felicity, are you sure you’re okay?” I asked, spinning around in my office chair.Bookmark here

“Yuki, I’m so glad that I’m finally here. Now I can relax,” Felicity replied, laying down in my bed without even asking permission.Bookmark here

I’m just going to study, hoping she would home soon. Probably not going to happen though.Bookmark here

“Yuki, I’ve decided! We will have a study sleepover!” Felicity sat up, raising her hands in the air.Bookmark here

“Study what now?” I questioned.Bookmark here

“Study sleepover. I can feel better about the test. And have someone around to make sure I don’t accidentally do something bad,” Felicity replied.Bookmark here

“That sounds like a great idea!” Mom appeared in my room, her face full of joy.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Mrs. Tomo,” Felicity said.Bookmark here

That escalated way too fast. I slumped down on my desk, before standing back up, pulling Mom outside for a private conversation.Bookmark here

“Mom, what are you thinking?” I hissed.Bookmark here

“Yuki, we can’t just kick her out. She used up her precious time to come over. Plus, don’t you think it’ll be exciting?” Mom said with a huge smile.Bookmark here

“Fine, I guess it would be mean after you said yes. But what are we going….,” I started but Mom dashed away.Bookmark here

Mom returned three minutes later, carrying an inflatable mattress and air pump. Okay, never mind. She placed them in my room and ran off.Bookmark here

“Yuki, I was wondering about this lab,” Felicity said.Bookmark here

“Let me see,” I respondedBookmark here

Three hours later, it was now one in the morning. I fell asleep at one point, and waking up, Felicity was already asleep on the mattress. I yawned, turning off my lamp, crawling into my bed.Bookmark here

“Stupid lazy people with their know-it-all attitude. I’ll show you one day,” Felicity said, turning around in her sleep.Bookmark here

Seriously, what did someone do to Felicity so she was like this?Bookmark here

“Tess, how come you’re not helping me? I really need it. I wish you weren’t so busy. We should go drinking sometime,” Felicity muttered.Bookmark here

I pulled the blanket over my head, hoping it would block out Felicity’s complaints. After awhile, I dozed off.Bookmark here

Monday Winter Quarter 2016 Finals Week Day 2Bookmark here

I felt something constricting and saw Felicity clutching me. When did she even get out of her mattress? I pried her hands off, and stood up, staring at her. Even after that, she continued sleeping, undisturbed by it all.Bookmark here

“Felicity, I swear you’re just as crazy as Ko,” I murmured, checking the time.Bookmark here

It was already nine. Mom entered my room, surveying the situation. She started laughing and exited. I shook Felicity, but she didn’t wake up. Damn, how deep of a sleeper were you? I yanked the pillow from my bed. Sorry, Felicity, but this is the only way. I rolled her over, jamming the pillow on top of her face, cutting her air supply off. She flailed around in panic.Bookmark here

“What…. Yuki?” Felicity sat up, staring at me with a dazed expression.Bookmark here

“You’re finally awake,” I commented.Bookmark here

“Oh, that’s right, I’m at your house. What happened? I felt like I was running out of air….,” Felicity said, still confused.Bookmark here

“Nothing,” I said.Bookmark here

After breakfast, we resumed our studying. Felicity and I made great progress. It was evening now and Felicity headed back home. What a weird experience. It was nice to have a study buddy, but her attitude bothered me. She was more reserved than usual.Bookmark here

“How was your sleepover?” Mom asked, placing dinner dishes down on the table.Bookmark here

“Felicity kept talking about things in her sleep, made it hard for me,” I replied.Bookmark here

“You should have written it down. There are certain things people only say when they’re asleep. You could have come into possession of amazing blackmail material,” Mom advised.Bookmark here

Mom really was evil but she made a good point. I would keep that in mind if this ever happened again. Shit, Mom’s influence was getting to me.Bookmark here

“Dear, stop putting bad ideas into Yuki’s head. She’s not like you,” Dad warned, walking into the kitchen.Bookmark here

“Oh, what’s that mean? Are you trying to say something?” Mom’s grip on the spatula tightened, her expression growing dark.Bookmark here

“I didn’t mean anything by it. I’m really sorry. Yuki, let’s get out of here,” Dad directed.Bookmark here

“Dad, what are you talking about?” I ignored him.Bookmark here

“Well, it seems like someone needs to be reeducated again. We’ll discuss this later,” Mom warned.Bookmark here

“Yuki, what have I gotten myself into?” Dad whispered.Bookmark here

“Wasn’t it your fault? Don’t piss off Mom. She’s already scary enough when she’s happy,” I simply responded.Bookmark here

“Yuki, you’re not even going to help your own father? Crap, this isn’t going to be fun,” Dad cursed himself for his mistake.Bookmark here

“Good luck, Dad. Now you know how I feel, when you sit back, and let Mom pick on me,” I said, walking away.Bookmark here

“Yukie, you’re my last hope,” Dad pleaded.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, Uncle. I’m helping Auntie with dinner. Perhaps we can speak about it at a later time,” Yukie apologized, heading into the kitchen.Bookmark here

“I’m having the worst luck today,” Dad muttered, heading to the garage.Bookmark here

After dinner, I resumed my studying. It was around ten now and the exam started at nine tomorrow. I should probably sleep. Oh wait, Yukie! I walked to her room, knocking on the door.Bookmark here

“Yuki, what can I assist you with?” Yukie opened her door.Bookmark here

“My chemistry final is at nine. If it’s too early, you don’t have to come with me,” I informed her.Bookmark here

“Oh, that works out perfectly. My exam is at noon so I can spend that time studying,” Yukie revealed.Bookmark here

“Be sure to wake me up if I oversleep. I wouldn’t want to be late,” I reminded.Bookmark here

I headed back to my room, noticing Felicity’s perfume, or at least the lingering of her scent. Weird, never noticed when Tess or anyone else came over. Fuck, I needed to clear my mind for tomorrow. Become like Shan or Kisai and just not give a shit. Yeah, that was the right attitude to relax myself.Bookmark here

Tuesday Winter Quarter 2016 Finals Week Day 3Bookmark here

“You seem confident, Yuki,” Yukie noticed.Bookmark here

“Do I? I don’t think I’m that prepared,” I disagreed.Bookmark here

“No, you are. Don’t belittle yourself like that. It’ll only shatter your concentration,” Yukie advised.Bookmark here

“Yeah, you’re probably right. Do you know your way around?” I checked the time on my cell phone.Bookmark here

“I have a map, don’t worry. I wouldn’t want to consume any valuable time you may have left,” Yukie replied.Bookmark here

“I’ll walk with you as far as the library. It’s on the way,” I decided, leading Yukie towards the elevator.Bookmark here

When we arrived near the fountain, I saw a familiar face. Kisai stared down at his phone, waiting for someone. He looked up, noticing me.Bookmark here

“Tomo, you have finals today too, huh? Good luck!” he greeted.Bookmark here

“What’s your final today?” I asked.Bookmark here

“A neurobiology class. Nothing too hard. Who’s the pretty girl?” Kisai asked.Bookmark here

“Oh yeah, you haven’t met her before. She’s my cousin, Tono Yukie. She takes online classes and her exams for them are held here,” I introduced her.Bookmark here

“I see. Nice to meet you, I’m Kisai Jin,” he introduced himself.Bookmark here

“A pleasure. You are a neurobiology major?” she asked.Bookmark here

“Thinking about it, what about you?” he chuckled.Bookmark here

“An aspiring engineer. To think Yuki has friends, who cover such diverse fields, it’s amazing,” Yukie replied.Bookmark here

“Pretty good major to be thinking about. Tomo, let’s talk another time. My friend just texted me back,” Kisai said, running off.Bookmark here

“Is he a potential….,” Yukie began.Bookmark here

“Nope. The library is right there. Let’s see, I’ll meet you at the fountain when you finish,” I decided.Bookmark here

“Okay, good luck on your final, Yuki!” Yukie nodded, heading into the library.Bookmark here

I walked into the exam room, a fair number of people already there. The professor hadn’t arrived yet, but the TA’s stood in the front, chatting. I glanced around, searching for Felicity, but didn’t see her. Strange, I thought she would be here early. Kristoph wasn’t here either, although pretty normal for him since he arrived late half of the time. I headed up toward the middle row, finding a seat. At 8:45, Felicity walked in, looking composed and calm. I waved at her.Bookmark here

“Morning, Yuki! I’m feeling great today!” Felicity greeted.Bookmark here

“Good to know. You’re doing a lot better than the last time I saw you,” I remarked, catching my pencil before it fell.Bookmark here

“Of course! After getting some rest, I felt really pumped. We’re going to destroy this test!” Felicity declared.Bookmark here

“I sure hope so,” I responded.Bookmark here

Kristoph arrived five minutes before the official start time, heading toward the back. The professor and the TA’s sorted exams on the desk. Looked like the official start time wouldn’t be until 9:05.Bookmark here

“Remember to not open your tests until we say so. Name, date, and student ID all go on the front. If you have any questions, raise your hand. Other than that, you’ve all made it through the quarter, so be proud. Good luck!” the professor announced, writing down two hours on the board.Bookmark here

I opened the test and checked each page, getting a feel for it. Oh, not too bad. This actually might be easy. I sneaked a glance at Felicity, who worked on the first page right away. She didn’t pause, circling her answer at the end. She wasn’t lying about feeling great. When the allocated exam time ended, the professor left right away. Maybe he was just tired and needed to get something.Bookmark here

“I wonder where he went?” Felicity walked up next to me.Bookmark here

“No idea. Maybe he’s just hungry? There’s no way he just left all the TA’s to take care of this, right?” I replied, heading out of the doors.Bookmark here

“Yeah, you’re probably right. The exam went better than expected. It’s all thanks to you, Yuki,” Felicity thanked me.Bookmark here

“I had nothing to do with it. The test wasn’t too bad, you’re right about that. If only my math final was like this,” I agreed.Bookmark here

“You seem pretty traumatized. Was it that bad?” Felicity noticed the expression on my face.Bookmark here

“I saw a student cry and someone throw up. I think that speaks for itself, Felicity,” I informed her.Bookmark here

“Yuki, you have a weird professor. Tell me his name,” Felicity requested.Bookmark here

“Professor Nen. Zhuyu really liked him though so you know he’s a strict teacher,” I told her.Bookmark here

“Oh, Long had him as a teacher before?” Felicity asked.Bookmark here

“Didn’t he tell you?” I expected her to know stuff like this.Bookmark here

“Long doesn’t talk to me about that kind of stuff unless I ask. I haven’t talked to him in awhile. Besides Darryl, I don’t talk to everyone else that often,” Felicity revealed.Bookmark here

“He got a 3.5, something like that,” I recalled.Bookmark here

“Of course he did. I miss the days when I had class with him and Jin,” Felicity commented.Bookmark here

Kristoph walked ahead of us, head down. Let’s not ask him about how he did. Felicity rushed ahead of me, catching up to him. I know you can read social situations. Don’t do it, Felicity.Bookmark here

“Kristoph, how did the test go?” Felicity asked, a smile on her face.Bookmark here

“Pretty bad, pretty damn bad. I don’t even know if I can pass the class anymore. I just want to get this quarter over and go home, play games,” Kristoph answered, his voice full of sadness and lost hope.Bookmark here

What did you expect? You’ve known him longer than I have. Kristoph continued his melancholic walk to the bus stop, staring down at his phone. I couldn’t blame him.Bookmark here

“What should we do over break?” Felicity brushed aside her interaction with Kristoph.Bookmark here

“Sleep?” I answered right away.Bookmark here

“No, silly, that’s not what I meant. Let’s have another party like the Christmas one,” Felicity suggested.Bookmark here

“Oh, sure, if I have time. I might be busy with the hero stuff and all,” I said.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry. I’ll make sure Tess gives you a day off. She needs a break from all of it too! Maybe a smaller party?” Felicity gave me a confident look.Bookmark here

“That might be nice. Felicity, I have to wait for my cousin to finish her finals, so you can go ahead,” I told Felicity as we neared the fountain.Bookmark here

“Oh, the girl who made your bracelet? I want to meet her! I’ll wait with you,” Felicity decided.Bookmark here

“If you’re not busy, go ahead. Do you have another final to study for?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Nope, I’m done! Isn’t that great? I’ll have to do some stuff for my dad so it’s like I have finals,” Felicity answered.Bookmark here

No, Felicity, that’s not even a solid comparison. I’m sure you have more leeway doing work than on a test. I sat down on a nearby bench, figuring where to go next. There was still two or three hours left before Yukie finished.Bookmark here

“Let’s go eat somewhere!” Felicity suggested.Bookmark here

“No, I’m not that hungry. I feel like sitting here for awhile,” I said.Bookmark here

“Hmm, what should we do then?” Felicity glanced up at the sky.Bookmark here

“Sit here and wait,” I replied.Bookmark here

“Okay, might as well work on the stuff I have from the company,” Felicity agreed, pulling out her laptop.Bookmark here

I didn’t realize how much time passed until Yukie tapped my shoulders. I blinked, surprised. I shouldn’t be since it was easy to see her coming.Bookmark here

“Yuki, sorry for the long wait. I’m ready to go,” Yukie said.Bookmark here

“Yukie, I’m Felicity. We haven’t exactly met but I’m sure you’ve seen me in pictures. Yuki talks about me, right?” Felicity jumped up from the bench, greeting my cousin with her usual vigor.Bookmark here

“Yes, she does. It is nice to meet you. I am Tono Yukie, Yuki’s cousin,” Yukie said, giving a slight bow.Bookmark here

“So polite. I like this girl, Yuki. Yukie, I heard you made that bracelet,” Felicity said.Bookmark here

“Correct,” Yukie confirmed.Bookmark here

“It’s amazing. The design is great and it’s practical to use. What were you thinking?” Felicity asked, her eyes lit up.Bookmark here

While Felicity assaulted my cousin with a barrage of questions, I stretched. The English final tomorrow wasn’t hard so I didn’t worry about it too much. It seemed like such a long time since I became a hero, but it was only four or five months ago. While the heroes originally assessed the situation as dire, the Traveler hadn’t made any major moves. Then there was Ace. Her motives were still unclear. The biggest shocker right now was the appearance of Ichizen’s little sister. How did she fit into all of this? Her sudden arrival into the entire picture wasn’t just a coincidence.Bookmark here

Wednesday Winter Quarter 2016 Finals Week Day 4Bookmark here

I proofread my essays one more time before handing it to the professor. When I walked out, Bartholomew stood there, waiting for me.Bookmark here

“Tomo, sorry to bother you. I’m here on behalf of Champ,” Bartholomew said.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I figured. What’s he want this time? He’s a sick weirdo obsessed with Tess,” I insulted.Bookmark here

“I see you aren’t fond of him. It’s actually more of a message from Lilith. She says you won’t have to worry about him turning anymore,” Bartholomew relayed.Bookmark here

“How’s she so sure?” I asked him for further details.Bookmark here

“Apparently she and Tess took care of it. No idea what they did. Even if you can’t trust us, you know Tess is telling the truth. I still haven’t forgotten how you assisted me. We may be on different teams, but it can still be civil,” Bartholomew replied.Bookmark here

“Tell that to Stacia. Besides Kyoi, no one has done anything,” I said.Bookmark here

“Indeed, it is unfortunate things can’t be resolved more peacefully,” Bartholomew agreed.Bookmark here

“Strange, since you follow someone like Lionel,” I remarked.Bookmark here

“I follow Lionel because he saved me. I do not necessarily agree with his ideals. If we end up enemies, I don’t see the need to be mean. Thanks for your time, Tomo,” Bartholomew said, walking away.Bookmark here

What a strange conversation. Bartholomew seemed like such a nice guy, when he wasn’t with Lionel. I was unsure of their history, but it seemed he rather be on our side, than theirs.Bookmark here

I arrived at home, feeling lazy. I dropped my backpack on the floor, sitting down on the couch. Yes, exams were over! I felt a heavy load lifted off. Maybe I should do some training. I felt my phone vibrate.Bookmark here

“Manami, what’s wrong? It’s rare for you to call when we have classes,” I answered.Bookmark here

“Yuki, did you hear? The thing with Ichizen having a little sister!” Manami’s exclaimed.Bookmark here

“Yeah, Mom told me about it a few days ago,” I answered.Bookmark here

“What’s going on? I called my parents but they tell me anything. Have you met her yet?” Manami questioned.Bookmark here

“Not yet. Mom told me she’s moving in, sometime next week,” I informed her about the situation.Bookmark here

“Damn, who’s this girl think she is? Appearing out of nowhere,” Manami muttered, her voice turning dark.Bookmark here

“Uh, Manami, calm down. Anyways, there’s not much more we can do,” I tried calming her down.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I know. Yuki, sorry for the sudden call. We’ll talk when you’ve actually met her,” Manami’s voice reverted back to her original tone.Bookmark here

At this point, I would be more surprised if she wasn’t involved with anything. If so, what was her potential role? Who would she side with and how would it change the current dynamics? That was the most worrying issue.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.