Volume 6, Chapter 1-2: Someone New

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.

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

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

“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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

“Hey, nice to meet you,” he greeted.

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

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

“Not too long then,” I said.

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

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

“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.

“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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

“Who was that?” I inquired.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

“What about Mom?” I followed Yukie downstairs.

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

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

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.

“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.

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

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.

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

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

“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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

“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.

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.

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