Volume 6, Chapter 6-7: Student Lounge Conversations III

“Is that a book for one of your classes?” Jacque asked.

“No, it’s something I had for awhile. Brought it with me since I don’t have anything else to do on the bus ride,” I replied.

“Almost no one ever reads for fun anymore. I definitely don’t, cuz you know,” Jacque complimented.

“I’m kind of the same way. Your descriptions fits my friend, Yuka, more than me,” I admitted.

“One of my friends hasn’t finished a single book since middle school,” Shan added.

“Wait, what? What about high school then?” Jacque responded.

“Come on, Jacque. I’m sure that you looked online for some kind of summary, instead of reading it,” Shan answered.

“Yeah, you’re right. I did that for some books, but hey, I did read all the way through. Doesn’t mean I understand most of it but I still finished them,” Jacque nodded.

“Ugh, you’re making me feel bad, since I actually did that too,” I said.

“Tomo, nothing to worry about. Just don’t be like me and you’ll be fine,” Jacque tried cheering me up.

“Right. You’re really negative about things, Jacque. I think you’re fine the way you are now. Then again, I don’t know you too well so that might not make you feel so good,” I changed my response.

“Thanks, Tomo. At least someone sorta believes in me,” Jacque thanked me for the encouragement.

“What are you talking about? We all support you, Jacque,” Shan added.

“That means a lot, guys. I think Tomo needs that kind of confidence from you guys when she fights,” Jacque diverted the topic to me.

“Eh, I think Tomo’s fine. She doesn’t need any empty compliments from any of us,” Shan refuted the validity of that statement.

“That really makes me so happy,” I replied with obvious sarcasm.

“I know, right? I’m just too used to saying that to Darryl. Like Tess said, we’re there for you when you need it. Actually, that might have been Jin. But whatever, you know what I mean,” Shan actually followed up with a sincere response.

“It’s definitely better than your usual ass comments. That kind of goes for Zhuyu too. Seriously, why are you guys such douches?” I asked.

“Nah, Tomo, we aren’t. You just think that, because of how we treat Darryl. Have you ever seen Long talk to Feng before? It’s different for sure,” Shan denied.

“Sure. So does Jacque have potential like Felicity’s little sister?” I inquired.

“Potential? Like for school?” Shan asked with a grin.

“Yeah. Of course not. I meant you know,” I replied.

“I never really asked about it. He might. Tess handles all of that stuff,” Shan revealed.

“She stores all of that information in her head, huh?” I commented.

“Long actually keeps some records on paper. He actually might have what you’re looking for,” Shan revealed an interesting piece of information.

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“He does seem the most suited for that kind of thing. He doesn’t give me straight answers like you too, so I don’t know how reliable he is,” I observed.

“He will. We’ve gotten to know each other better in the last few months so it’s only natural that we’re starting to open up,” Shan explained, tapping rapidly on his keyboard.

“Yeah, I can see how that works,” I agreed with his analysis.

I once again started reading, thinking about Shan’s words. I had certainly warmed up to them, especially after the Champ incident. There were still a few things which I couldn’t quite trust them on. That included the Traveler and the true extent of their powers. It felt as if they hid that on purpose. I could just be paranoid.

The latest chapter I read did get me thinking about my overall relationship with everyone. Could I really put my full trust in them and hope that it would work out fine? A part of me screamed out “no” and that it was fine to harbor doubts about them. After all, they themselves admitted they weren’t exactly the cleanest or honorable.

“You look really deep in thought. Thinking about life changing events there?” Jacque remarked.

“I guess you can call it that. Shouldn’t you be working on your essay instead of talking to me?” I replied.

“That’s….a good point. Yep, my life still sucks as of now,” Jacque complained, resuming his typing.

“Sorry if I lashed out at you, Jacque. What’s the essay you’re working on suppose to be about?” I asked, peering at his screen.

“Some art history stuff. I haven’t read the book we were assigned, so it’s hard for me to come up with anything decent,” Jacque admitted.

“That’s not good. I don’t think you should be like Shan. It isn’t good for your work ethic,” I chided him.

“Wow, that’s a low blow there, Tomo. I do work, just not here. Just because I’m not doing it now doesn’t mean I don’t do anything,” Shan defended himself.

“I believe you considering how smart everyone says you are. It’s just you haven’t exactly shown me the dedication I see from someone like Ichaival,” I said.

“Damn, that’s actually insulting. Darryl definitely tries, but that doesn’t mean he succeeds every time. I guess that’s true for most people,” Shan remarked, a mock hurt expression on his face.

“Tomo, it’s like this. Shan doesn’t do work now because he knows that he’ll finish it some other time. See he can do that because he’s smart and lazy. But me, I’m kind of dumb and lazy too, so that’s a lot worse,” Jacque outlined an argument.

“I guess if you put it that way. Whatever,” I said.

Jacque’s typing resumed after awhile and Shan actually read something useful. I read my book, passing the time until my next class. I came across a page which was glued onto the next one. What the hell, Ichizen? You somehow still find strange ways of irritating me. I ran my finger over the page, attempting a method of prying it apart without tearing it. Shan saw me inspect the book with care, but said nothing.

“You need some help there, Tomo?” Jacque inquired, noticing my troubles.

“I don’t want to tear the page, but it seems like I don’t have much of a choice,” I answered, preparing to rip the top page off from the bottom.

“Let me see it,” Jacque requested.

I handed him the book and the man placed his fingers at the top. He tapped the top and a small crease opened up. With care, Jacque pried apart the glued pages and something fell out. Jacque retrieved the object from the floor, returning it and the book back to me.

“There you go. What dropped from it?” Jacque questioned.

“Looks like…. some kind of business card. Not exactly sure what this is,” I checked the item, flipping it over.

“Nah, you know it’s directions to some maid café,” Shan commented with a laugh.

It was around the size of an index card, but with a picture on it. I didn’t recognize the photo, seeing a phone number and a business address. On the back, I saw Ichizen’s sloppy handwriting and a quick sketch.

“I have no idea what this is,” I said, passing the card around.

Shan glanced at it, shaking his head. Jacque flipped over to the back, staring at it for a long time.

“Something interesting there?” I inquired.

“This is a pretty good drawing. Who drew this?” Jacque complimented.

“Wait, you actually know that doodle is supposed to be?” I reacted in surprise.

“Yeah, it’s supposed to be one of the buildings here. What’s it called? Shigetzu, help me out here. The one near the fountain,” Jacque asked Shan for assistance.

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“Oh, you mean the language department’s library? Now that you mention it, it does actually look like that building,” Shan replied, looking at the picture again.

“Why would he….?” I started asking, but then realized something.

I asked Jacque for the card, checking the address. This was an on-campus location listed. How could I have missed that the first time? After Jacque identified the small sketch on the back, everything clicked into place.

“It looks like you found your answer, Tomo,” Jacque noted.

“It’s one of the English or language department’s cards. Guess Ichizen spoke with an advisor there or something,” I revealed.

“Oh, I guess that makes sense. Why did he put it in the book then?” Shan questioned.

“I don’t know. Ichizen is weird like that sometimes. And I actually thought that we found something important,” I said, feeling a bit let down.

During my walk to the class, I wondered what else Ichizen left behind. Although the card proved useless, I might salvage something else. I already searched through his room with Manami, not find anything besides that photo. I did still have a few of his books, so I should go flip through them, and see if there were any clues.

Winter Quarter 2016 Week 5 Friday

I was once again at Shane and Emily’s facility for some more tests. Tess stood with her tablet, staring down at it with an emotionless expression. Emily popped out a disc from the control board, asking her husband for something. He handed her a similar looking disc. Too many interchangeable parts were being switched around for my liking.

“So should I expect to see anything like last time?” I asked, crawling into the pod.

“That will depend on you. It’s rare you ever see a continuation, but from what Tess has told me, that actually might be the case. Your grimoire is rather powerful in that aspect. Not to mention you’ve copied a few more powers since last time, but that won’t really impact what you’ll be seeing,” Shane replied, checking the equipment.

“Okay. Here I go then,” I nodded, closing my eyes, as the pod cover descended.

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