Volume 2, Chapter 3-1: Bookstore Encounter

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Winter Break 2016 Week 1 Wednesday

I woke up, feeling pain in my right shoulder. My legs also felt like jelly. Tess warned me about the side effects of using powers, but I didn’t think it would hit this hard. On the bright side, Tess did not wake me up early. I yawned and glanced at my alarm clock which flashed 10:00 AM. I half expected to see Tess outside my room.

“Yuki, one of your friends is here. She’s been waiting for half an hour already!” Mom informed me.

Was Tess actually here? Please let me rest so I can actually attend Felicity’s party in full health. I walked out of my room after changing, but saw no one.

What was I thinking? The visitor was downstairs, no reason for them to wait outside my door. Tess’ unusual wake-up calls were subconsciously conditioning me. Walking downstairs, I saw Mom in her apron.

“Yuki, your friend’s in the dining room. I just made breakfast, it’s on the table. I have work soon so I’ll see you when I get back home. Remember to leave a note if you’re going somewhere,” Mom reminded me.

Alright, who was the visitor? Please let it not be Tess. I listened for a spoon striking a bowl. Felicity sat at the table eating noodles to my relief. As usual, she exuded an aura of cheerfulness.

“Good morning, Yuki! Sorry for the surprise visit. I wanted you to go shopping with me,” Felicity greeted, turning around.

Today, Felicity wore her golden hair in a loose ponytail, strands of hair sticking out from where she tied it. She wore a white fleece coat and black jeans.

Why did everyone visit my house without informing me? Did they think that little of me or was it just too much of a hassle to call or text? I took a seat next to her and grabbed food.

“So what kind of shopping did you have in mind?” I asked.

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“Preparation for the party. I wanted to pick up some stuff. Mostly food and decorations. I thought you might want to help out,” Felicity replied.

“I don’t mind. I had no plans today anyways. Is Tess coming with us?” I asked.

“No, Tess is busy today with something. By the way, how do you feel? I heard from Tess that you went through some tests,” Felicity inquired, looking over at me.

“I feel pain mostly in my legs. And my right shoulder too. But mentally I’m feeling pretty alright,” I answered, finishing up my breakfast.

“That’s good to hear. Tess can be hard on you, but she’s looking out for you in her own way. Although I do wish she would stop telling me to feel like a 95, it gets very tiring,” Felicity remarked.

“Where does that come from?” I questioned, wondering about Tess’ bizarre catchphrase.

“It used to be a 97, but Tess eased off a little once we entered high school. I guess it comes from the fact that 97 is typically a 4.0 and Tess always set that as her goal,” Felicity revealed.

“Are we heading out right now?” I asked, stretching as I stood up from my chair.

“Yes. Today you’ll experience my brilliant driving. I can’t guarantee I’m as good as Tess though. Let’s go,” Felicity nodded in response.

In my driveway, I saw a beautiful luxury car. Although today wasn’t especially sunny, I saw the shine coming off of it. I stared at the vehicle in awe. This really emphasized the difference between Felicity’s status and mine.

I entered the passenger’s seat and after sitting down immediately knew this was a nice car. Tess’ seats in her car were comfortable but this was at another level. I wondered how much the car was worth.

“Hold on. Someone’s calling me,” Felicity said, answering a call.

I inspected the interior. There was a nice amount of space in front of me, enough for a tall person to stretch their legs and not feel cramped. The glove compartment was locked, separated into two sections. I was curious about the personal items Felicity kept there. Felicity finished up her call and then started backing out of the driveway.

I saw Tess’ name when my phone rang two minutes later. Should I ignore it or pick up? Felicity saw my conflicted expression.

“Aren’t you going to pick that up?” she asked, tapping the steering wheel with her right finger.

“Well, I don’t know if I should. Tess is calling me and I feel like I’ll just be doing more training if I do,” I answered, still staring at my lit up screen.

“I think it’ll be fine. Even Tess has her limits,” Felicity assured me.

“Alright, I guess I’ll talk to her. Hopefully, it’s not training,” I muttered.

“Tomo, how’s the pain?” Tess asked.

“I’m managing. How’s Ichaival? I think you should be more worried about him,” I replied, recalling his legs shaking after our fight.

“He should be okay. Shigetzu’s with him today so everything is optimal,” Tess reported, her voice showing no concern for Ichaival’s injury.

“That seems kind of…never mind. So, did you need something?” I asked Tess.

“Yes. Please tell Fel to update our security cards for the training facility and provide a copy for you as well. I’m busy with something so the next time we’ll meet is at the party. Good luck with the shopping,” Tess said.

“Did Tess have anything important to say?” Felicity asked while glancing at her rear view mirror.

“Yeah she said she wanted you to update the security cards and give me one for the training facility,” I passed along Tess’ message.

“I’ll take care of that tomorrow,” Felicity announced.

Twenty minutes later, Felicity parked at a large store with a traditional pagoda roof with red lanterns hanging from the rafters. Inside, I saw large aisles of vegetables and an assortment of fruits. Felicity walked past them and we headed toward an area filled with books.

I certainly did not expect this. How should I put it? Felicity lacked the look of a person interested in books. She appeared more hands on, someone who wrote books instead of reading them.

“What did you need to buy here?” I asked, looking up at the tall bookcases.

“A recipe book. I wanted to try making some new dishes for the party on Friday,” she revealed.

“What kind of book did you have in mind?” I asked, peering at the cooking books.

“Something that requires an oven. I want to try making some roasted meats, stuff like that,” Felicity answered.

I wandered off to another section of the area while Felicity flipped through books. I saw shelves filled with volumes of manga and next to it, a display case with figurines. They didn’t interest me and I was about to leave. However, I saw a familiar face and walked towards him.

“Zhuyu?” I asked.

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He turned around at the sound of my voice. Today, he wore a grey sweater vest over a blue dress shirt with an unzipped black winter coat on top. And of course his usual dress pants. He stared at me, no visible emotion on his face.

“Oh, Tomo. What brings you to a place like this?” he asked, taking off his glasses and wiping them on the sleeves of his coat.

“I came with Felicity. Are you looking for manga?” I asked, pointing at them.

“No. I’m actually here with Shigetzu and Darryl. We were just killing time waiting for Jin,” he responded, putting away his glasses.

I never quite understood Zhuyu. Sometimes he wore glasses, but I saw him for the most part without them. What was up with his vision? Or did he just wear them when he felt like it? Well, it’s not like I especially cared, but it pissed me off for a strange reason.

“Long, Jin says he’ll be here soon. Oh, hey, how’s it going Tomo?” Ichaival greeted me with Shan behind him.

“Ichaival, I’m fine. Are you legs any better yet?” I asked.

“They’re about the same. Thanks for asking though,” Ichiaval replied.

“Darryl just got through some intense training, so if he says they’re okay then I guess that means I get to turn up the intensity. Good call, Tomo,” Shan commented, a smile on his face.

“You can’t do that!” Ichaival protested, shaking his head.

“You just said it yourself that your legs are fine. That means they don’t hurt, so it’s all good,” Shan countered.

“He does have a point,” Zhuyu agreed with Shan, nodding his head.

Ichaival served as the lightning rod for insults and slandering. Shan and Zhuyu were on the same wavelength and built on top of each other’s words. Still, I could tell that it was done in good fun. Ichizen would have fit in quite nicely.

But now was no time to reminisce about such things. Still, after listening to their conversation, I missed the daily conversation between Ichizen and me.

“Darryl, this is the perfect book for you! Look at this, “50 Methods of Improving One’s Self”. I swear that you will love this,” Shan pointed out.

“Let’s see what’s inside. Hmm, these tips are quite good. Shigetzu, check this out,” Zhuyu remarked, flipping through the book.

“Oh, let’s see here. Assert yourself more in front of girls. That does fit what you need to do, I can’t disagree with that,” Shan nodded.

“Come on guys, really?” Ichaival said, shaking his head at their nonsense.

“What else is there?” Zhuyu asked, looking over at Shan.

“This is really good. Take a look, Darryl. I’ll buy this book for your birthday if you want. This might turn your life around,” Shan said.

I watched the three talk more and Ichaival’s facial expression changed from one of disbelief to a lopsided smile. I did not expect Zhuyu and Shan to have such a teasing attitude toward their friends.

In fact, I would have expected this more out of Kisai than them. Although judging from the previous times I saw them at school, there was obviously much more I had to learn about these heroes.

“You know what? I might actually buy this book just so you guys shut up about this,” Ichaival finally decided, picking up the book.

“Are you sure? I mean it’s $10. That’s money which could be spent better elsewhere,” Zhuyu questioned.

“You know, he may be right. Although the book might help you, I can’t say for sure it’s worth it. Maybe you should buy it as a digital option and save money that way,” Shan added.

I see. The two turned the tables on Ichaival smoothly. Only moments ago they were in support of buying the book. It appeared Ichavial was accustomed to this routine and only sighed in response.

“Hey, you two should stop picking on Darryl like that!” a familiar voice said.

I turned around and saw Felicity standing there with a cooking book in her left hand. Shan gave an approving nod and whispered something into Ichaival’s ear. Ichaival’s face displayed shock but he recovered with a smile.

“Felicity, you have great timing. Darryl here was just going to ask you something,” Shan said, pushing his friend forward.

Zhuyu and Shan stepped back. Ichaival glared at his friends and then started speaking.

“Felicity..,” Ichaival began.

Before he finished his sentence, Felicity’s phone rang. She picked it up and waved me over. What was going on?

“Yuki, we have to hurry. I was just told that a sale just began and we have to get there soon. Sorry Darryl, but we’ll have to speak another time. C’mon!” Felicity urged and then walked to the cash register.

I followed Felicity and glanced back at the three. Zhuyu and Shan maintained their usual cool expressions. Zhuyu gave Ichaival a pat on his shoulder, reminiscent of the one Kisai gave during my initial meeting with them. Zhuyu then glanced at his phone and said something. Ichaival and Shan nodded. They exited the store, presumably to meet up with Kisai.

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