“It’s actually Yuki. Well, let’s harass her and see….,” Shan said but shut his mouth after Ksi shot him a sharp, disapproving look.
“This is crazy,” Ichaival remarked, shaking his head.
Shan, Ksi, Ichaival, Lilith, and Lionel were all present. Everyone else was either busy or not in the area anymore.
“If I didn’t see her with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it,” Lilith said.
“So what are we going to do?” Lionel asked, pouring himself a drink.
“That’s why we’re here, right?” Zhuyu called over a waiter.
We were in one of the establishments Felicity owned. People rented out rooms like a karaoke bar, paying an hourly rate, and also any additional costs for special drinks or orders. Kisai consumed an entire bottle already, pouring glass after glass. I was worried about his consumption rate but he showed no signs of inebriation.
“It’s obvious. This version of Yuki won’t be here forever. There really isn’t much to decide,” Ksi stated.
“The potential return of the Traveler is not something that can be dismissed,” Zhuyu countered.
“He has a point,” Lilith supported Zhuyu.
“So yay or nay for kicking ass?” Kisai asked.
“Dude, we gotta talk about it first,” Jacque said.
“Long has a point but I see very clearly what Ksi means too. This Yuki will eventually return to her timeline. That leaves us to deal with anything that happens. At this point, all of us lack the time or energy,” Kisai elaborated.
“I really want a shot at the Traveler, but if he’s not going to do anything, let’s just sit back and relax. We don’t want any more casualties,” Lionel offered his opinion.
“We should back out, nothing worth fighting for. We can’t just jump in and expect things to go our way,” Ichaival added.
“Long, do you have any more information?” Lilith questioned.
“There’s no longer a Gatekeeper. Everything’s been sealed. I searched through all her stuff, but it’s impossible to decrypt. Even Jin only managed to decode a fourth of it,” Zhuyu revealed.
“Why don’t one of you assume the role?” I questioned.
“The person who inherits or receives the Gatekeeper powers must meet very specific criteria,” Kisai replied.
“I wonder if…. no, that’s too dangerous,” Lionel suggested before cutting his sentence short.
“Just spit it out, Lionel,” Lilith ordered.
“If this Yuki saw our version of Yuki, what would happen? The reaction could induce an artificial dimension,” Lionel hypothesized.
“That poses a huge risk. It might make matters worse,” Ksi pointed out a potential flaw.
“It might be worth trying. There is an alternative,” Zhuyu said.
“Let her see the Mirei of our time? Worth checking out,” Kisai guessed his friend’s intentions.
“You guys are married, right?” I glanced over at Ksi.
“Are you speaking to me, Tomo Yuki? Or to Shigetzu?” Ksi asked, furrowing her brows.
“I was talking to you, Ksi. It’s just, well, very strange for me, all of this. I just wanted to hear you confirm it I guess,” I replied, not backing down.
“I am married to Shigetzu. Is it really that strange?” Ksi replied, her face softening.
“Definitely. Everyone is undecided, huhh? I get it. Just don’t do anything rash. When you’re forced to, that’s different. But you still have freedom to decide,” I advised.
“Give us some time to think about it. I’m sure you agree, right?” Lilith nodded in agreement.
“Go for it,” Zhuyu replied.
“Yuki, why don’t you ask questions about us? I’m sure you’re curious about everyone,” Kisai suggested.
I was curious about everyone’s occupation. How much would I exactly remember? I retained all my memories from that strange past Mirei showed me. But this was the future, perhaps a false one, but still a potential one. I could see for myself how much it deviated once I returned.
“Ichaival, you weren’t in the area for awhile. What were you doing?” I asked.
“Just traveling, worked on a project for Felicity actually. I only came back a year ago after accepting a job here,” Ichaival revealed.
I noticed a ring on Ichaival’s hand. Zhuyu and Kisai weren’t lying about that.
“What’s your job like?” I continued my line of questioning.
“I’m a civil engineer, making sure things are safe. You remember Tai? I’m collaborating with him on a project. He’s designing the new headquarters for a new Shakai Group offshoot,” Ichaival revealed.
“How about you, Shan?” I shifted my attention to the married man.
“One of the heads of research and development for a paper company. I work at a lab in that fancy new campus they built a few years back just outside of downtown. I can’t be as good as Darryl apparently,” Shan replied, smiling.
“Pretty cool. Zhuyu was talking about how you got promoted,” I recalled.
“It’s what got me back here. Oh and Natalia too, of course. She was my main reason for returning,” Shan explained.
Pretty sweet of him. Shan wasn’t a bad person. I just never witnessed his actual dedication first-hand which made this impressive. Throughout these years, everyone matured. As they should, because it would be disappointing to see them take regress considering their potential.
“You’re engaged too, Ichaival. What’s your fiancée like?” I questioned.
“She’s a detective. I met her during my travels. She’s really smart and loves astronomy. It’s one of the things that attracted me to her,” Ichaival replied, all smiles.
“Sounds like a good match,” I complimented.
“Thanks Yuki. Still not used to seeing you like this,” Ichaival admitted, laughing.
“By the way, you said I was in a coma. Do you regularly visit me?” I was curious about their interactions with me.
“Long can answer that. He’s the one who’s visited you. Jacque too. They’ve stayed here so it’s easier for them than the rest of us who have left and come back,” Shan answered, pointing at the zero vector user with a smirk.
Zhuyu, huh? He seemed distant, but to think he cared the most… probably because I still didn’t understand him. I really should get to know everyone better. There was still a lot I didn’t know.
“The last time I visited was around a month ago. Jacque was with me. Not too much improvement but there wasn’t a decline,“ Zhuyu said.
“Your condition improved enough where they don’t need to monitor you 24/7,” Jacque added.
“What about Mirei?” I wondered about Ichizen’s little sister.
“About the same. It be nice if we could contact Shane and Emily, but with the dimensions sealed, nothing we can do,” Zhuyu answered.
“You’re pretty updated on everything. You’re basically just Tess at this point. You don’t seem undecided about returning at all,” I noticed.
“Would be nice for us to wrap things up, but like Darryl said, maybe it’s not worth it. Things could change with you here now,” Zhuyu responded, shrugging his shoulders, not showing his emotions.
There was a knock on the door and an employee entered with a tray of appetizers. A small note card accompanied the food. Zhuyu read it with a skeptical look. He sighed, handing the card over to Kisai.
“I guess she’s free tonight. She’s been busy with the company and her kid,” Kisai said, pouring another glass for himself.
“Is it okay for Kisai to keep drinking?” I asked, concerned about his condition.
“Jin’s always been like this. Kuan could tell you a bunch of stories. I haven’t witnessed Jin when he’s really drunk. I’m never there for those kinds of things,” Zhuyu assured me, glancing at the door with an uneasy expression.
“Where is Kuan anyways?” I questioned.
“Oh, he’s traveling abroad right now. Didn’t even know until Jin told me this morning,” Zhuyu revealed.
“Kuan always seemed like the indoor type to me. Should have known there was more to him. Is something wrong? You keep staring at the door,” I realized.
“You’ll see when she arrives. How does she even have free time?” Zhuyu muttered the last part of his sentence.
A few minutes later, there was another knock on the door. Zhuyu removed his glasses, massaging his eyes at the sound. Kisai just shrugged his shoulders and smiled. What the hell was going on?
“Hello everyone! Did you miss me?” Felicity’s clear and ever bright voice filled the room, breaking the somber mood.
She still retained her beauty. Although, work took a toll on her, as the bags underneath her eyes were noticeable. Her physical appearance overall remained the same.
“It really is you, Yuki! You have no idea how much I’ve missed you! It really makes me happy to see and chat with you even if it’s just for a short time!” Felicity chirped, giving me a big hug without any warning.
“Yeah, a little… tight there, Felicity,” I gasped as Felicity tightened her hold.
“I’m surprised you’re free today, Mrs. Konoe,” Zhuyu commented.
“So cold, Long. I had a little business here today. It’s not so surprising since I do own the establishment,” Felicity chuckled, releasing me.
“I’ll head out then. I’ll give you a call once I’ve thought about it,” Lionel announced, exiting the room without looking back.
“Same. I don’t want to interrupt this reunion. Hey, Long, pass along any information you get. I’ll talk to you soon,” Lilith decided.
Now it was just the heroes again. Well, the ones I was more accustomed to at least. Felicity wore an expensive ring, glistening even in the dim room lighting.
“We should go too. Both of us have work tomorrow,” Ksi said, standing up.
“Yep, work is pretty important. Remember that, Yuki,” Shan agreed.
Everyone was bailing. I thought Shan would stay longer, but his wife was adamant about leaving. I glanced over at Ichaival, sensing he was next.
“Darryl, I know you don’t have work tomorrow. Are you leaving too?” Felicity pointed at him.
“I’ll stick around but not for too long. Lyra would be worried and I promised her we would do something in the morning,” Ichaival answered.
“Stay as long as you can. It’s not often that we have a chance to reunite like this,” Felicity said.
“It’s been cool, guys, I should leave too. Gotta start the final touches for the project. Can’t let the boss down, right?” Jacque headed towards the door.
“When’s the deadline?” Felicity questioned.
“They said Tuesday but I’m behind. I really need to get working on it,” Jacque replied, checking his phone.
“What if I extended that deadline? Could you stay then?” Felicity offered.
“I appreciate it but that’s not a great idea. Hey Long, give me call if anything changes,” Jacque reminded his friend.
“Jacque, are you free after finishing your project? Let’s take Yuki to see Mirei,” Zhuyu questioned.
“Sounds like a plan. Let’s do it,” Jacque agreed before departing.
Kisai, Zhuyu, and Ichaival remained. The original three I met when investigating the map of heroism with Ichizen. What a strange turn of events. Mirei, did you do this on purpose?
“How’s everything going for you, Felicity? I heard you got married,” I brought up.
“Super well. Did you hear from Jin I also have a cute daughter too? Tell the past me things will be amazing for her,” Felicity spoke with her usual cheerfulness.
“How old is she?” I sipped my drink.
“She’s turning two in a few months. Didn’t Darryl or anyone else tell you?” Felicity stared at everyone with a piercing look.
“I thought it wasn’t relevant enough. More important things to worry about,” Zhuyu explained.
“How could you leave something so important out? Yuki, even though they’re older, these boys are still the same. Make sure get it through their thick skulls that delicacy and concern are important,” Felicity informed me.
“Whoa, that’s pretty unfair. I care even if Long doesn’t. Help me out here, Jin,” Ichaival argued, displeased by Felicity’s statement.
“Whatever you say, Darryl. I was planning on mentioning it,” Kisai said.
“Fine. I’ll forgive you. Yuki, did you hear about how everyone’s engaged?” Felicity pointed at Kisai and Ichaival.
“Yeah, I was talking to them about it before you came in,” I responded.
“Oh, not important, huh?” Felicity gave Zhuyu a disapproving look.
Zhuyu remained silent. What to do? Let’s change the topic back to Felicity. I’m sure she rather update me on her situation than bicker about such a trivial matter.
“What’s your husband like, Felicity?” I inquired.
“It’s an interesting story, Yuki. I’ll be glad to tell you!” Felicity nodded with excitement.
Jessica Staccato introduced one of her clients to the woman. They hit it off and after a few more meetings, started dating. Three years later, Felicity and her husband finally married and had their first child. I didn’t pay attention to half of Felicity’s story, feeling tired. She stated her husband’s name several times, but by the end, I just forgot.
“When did Ichaival leave?” I noticed his absence.
“He left ten minutes ago,” Zhuyu said.
“And that’s how we met. I started a branch company with the permission of my father and it did really well. And you know the rest,” Felicity concluded, drinking water once she finished.
“That’s really cool,” I exclaimed, masking my lack of enthusiasm.
“I hope you’ll stay long enough to meet him. Jessica would love to see you again too,” Felicity wrapped up her long story.
“Great story, Konoe. Really loved it, great details!” Kisai complimented, his head slumped down on the table.
I really envy you right now, Kisai. Zhuyu wasn’t thrilled to be here either. Strange, I never noticed he had any issues with Felicity. Something must have gone awry at some point. Or maybe it was just his personality.
“Jin, should I call your fiancé?” Zhuyu shook his friend’s shoulder.
“Nah, I’m good. Let me just use the bathroom and I’ll be fine,” Kisai declined, stumbling out of the room.
“Long, how’s your teaching going? I heard impressive reviews,” Felicity questioned.
“About the same. I’m sure some of my students dislike me very much. That’s how things are. Not everyone is interested in learning the material. I get it. I’ve been there before,” Zhuyu replied.
“You’re too strict. You can’t expect people to love math like you do,” I commented.
“Yeah, I’ve heard that before. Especially from Kristoph. I should take you to his shop,” Zhuyu said.
“Never thought he would be running a shop,” I remarked.
“He inherited the shop, but can’t be there all the time. His wife manages it for the most part since he has another job,” Zhuyu replied.
After more idle chatting, everyone called it a night. There was more catching up on everyone’s personal lives than an actual strategy on how to approach the potential return of the Traveler. Although, I did enjoy seeing everyone’s future selves. It wasn’t set in stone so I was intrigued by how much of it would became reality.