Volume 8, Chapter 3: Bartholomew’s Request

Wednesday Winter Quarter 2016 Week 7

“Hey, Zhuyu, can I ask you a question?” I asked.

I was in the student lounge as usual, a habit since meeting the heroes. Zhuyu, Jacque, and Kisai were present. Zhuyu did homework from his textbook. Kisai stared down at his phone, earphones in. Jacque, well, he was himself. I grew accustomed to his pessimistic and bleak outlook on life.

“Go ahead. You don’t have to be so polite,” Zhuyu said, placing his mechanical pencil down.

His pencil was pink, cute rabbit faces plastered across it. Never expected Zhuyu to use something like that. I wonder if someone gave it to him as a gift, or if he bought it himself.

“Tomo, what’s your question?” Zhuyu asked, snapping me out of my thoughts.

“Oh, sorry. Um, this question here. It’s about center of mass,” I answered, showing him the problem.

“You don’t need to do the integration. It’s symmetrical so apply this formula. You don’t have to worry about the other side since it’ll be zero,” Zhuyu explained, drawing a line down the middle, showing me the steps.

“Makes sense. Thanks,” I said, grateful for his assistance.

“Have you watched any of the battle videos?” Zhuyu asked, continuing his work as before.

“I haven’t, been too busy with all my chemistry homework,” I replied.

“You might want to make skip through some of them,” Zhuyu warned.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Sometimes they’re just us messing around. Jin knows what I mean,” Zhuyu said, glancing over at his friend.

“We’re serious all the time. I don’t make mistakes. Every battle on record is me 100% at my best,” Kisai responded.

I pulled out my phone and the screen remained black, even after hitting the power button. I forgot to charge it last night. Oh wait, Yukie’s bracelet! The battery icon popped up, confirming it worked.

“You have a portable charger like Shigetzu,” Zhuyu commented.

“Does he?” I asked, not recalling ever seeing him with one.

“Yeah, he goes through his phone battery before classes are over, so it’s really convenient. Never seen a charger like yours before,” Zhuyu replied.

“Yukie made it,” I revealed.

“Pretty cool,” Kisai complimented.

“If I could design something functional like that, it would be awesome. Just the appearance, of course, I’m too dumb for the actual insides,” Jacque joined the conversation.

“Jacque, come on, what did I tell you before? You have to stop with the negativity. I see enough bulls**t from Shan and the others. You don’t have be like this,” I chided him.

“Tomo, who do you think I am? This is what I’m like every day. Except in the summer, but I have summer classes this year, so f**k my life again,” Jacque sighed, ignoring my message.

I checked the charge on my phone, before heading to English, and saw it three-fourths full. Better remember to inform Yukie about this when I got home.

“You leaving?” Jacque asked, placing an orange slice into his mouth.

“Yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow,” I nodded, unplugging my phone.

“See you later,” Zhuyu said, glancing up from his schoolwork.

“See ya,” Kisai said, still staring at his phone.

I arrived in English class, searching for seats. The professor liked picking on students in the back. I saw the middle row empty, picking a random spot there. I took out my notebook and looking up front, spotted someone familiar.

“Oh s**t,” I whispered to myself.

Bartholomew. Calm down, Yuki. He might be the protégé of a douchebag, but that didn’t mean it translated over to his real life persona.

“Unfortunately, a matter has come up, and I must leave in thirty minutes. We will have a shorter class period than normal. As such, there will be extra reading for tonight…,” the professor announced.

When class ended, I waited for Bartholomew to leave first, hoping to avoid him. However, he sat in his seat for awhile, jotting down something. I stood up in a hurry, rushing to the back exit. I heaved a sigh of relief, once outside. That was too close.

“Tomo Yuki, I never thought I would see you here,” a voice called out.

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“Surprised to see you too,” I agreed, taking a cautious approach.

“How do you like the class so far? The professor is a bit eccentric, but his lectures are definitely informative,” Bartholomew questioned.

A normal conversation with no threats? I thought he might challenge me to a fight, but he was just making small talk. Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all. Without Lionel around, he was more reserved.

“The professor definitely is weird, but I like his little stories about all the books we’re assigned. Never really thought you were the type to take an English class though,” I replied.

“It’s a requirement for graduation and I am an aspiring English major. After all, we’re both freshman, correct?” Bartholomew revealed.

“Yeah,” I nodded.

“Tomo, one more thing. I have a message from Lionel,” Bartholomew said.

What kind of threat was it this time? Most likely one full of empty promises and false strength.

“Inform Ichaival Darryl that I desire an exhibition battle. Doesn’t have to be today, but sometime soon. Now for Lionel’s message. He wants a rank-up match against someone from your ‘litter of ugly kittens’. That’s about it,” Bartholomew relayed.

“Why aren’t you going through Tess?” I pointed out.

“I believe it’s better to be personal with messages, than have a third party involved,” Bartholomew answered.

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“That’s what’s happening here,” I exposed the flaw in his answer.

“Yes, but it is hardly viable for me to go locate Ichaival down at his community college. So, Tomo, I would very much be grateful, if you can tell Tess and Ichaival,” Bartholomew said, departing after his explanation.

“Heading home already, Yuki?” someone asked.

Yuka walked up to me, holding a book. No Champ anywhere, good.

“Yeah, you still have class?” I answered.

“I am finished for the day. I was hoping to meet up with Champ later, but he’s busy,” Yuka said.

“I can drive you home,” I offered.

“That would be great. I’ve been carrying extra books, since I checked them out from the library,” Yuka accepted my offer.

She wasn’t lying. I heard them hit against each other, making a loud thud once the backpack tipped over. Yuka, I worry about your back.

“Anything new?” I asked.

“Not much. I’ve been looking at bookcases online and haven’t decided which one to buy yet,” Yuka replied.

“Bookcases? Don’t you already have one?” I asked.

“I wanted to get another one, so I could organize all my fiction and non-fiction. I’m running out of room,” Yuka said.

“I don’t know how you manage to do it. You spend more on normal books than textbooks,” I remarked.

“Don’t worry, I get free books from the bookstore I work at part-time, so I save money that way,” Yuka revealed.

“You’ve always been like that. How’s your classes this quarter?” I asked.

“I’m handling everything okay. I do have a ten page essay due next week and a five page essay due on Friday. I’ll work on that once I get home,” Yuka answered.

“Sounds terrible. Ichizen would have loved that. Too time consuming,” I voiced my opinion.

“It’s so fun, Yuki. Formulating the argument and finding evidence for it. There’s so many different sides you can take. Especially if it’s a book or topic other people have contributed to,” Yuka gushed.

“I still don’t like it very much. All of your classes this quarter are writing related, right?” I realized.

“Yep, I wanted to get them out of the way, so I could apply for the major. I really would love to do research on older stories, you know, trace their origins,” Yuka nodded.

“I’m still thinking about what I want to do,” I remarked.

“Isn’t that normal? You’ll find something, Yuki. You always do,” Yuka encouraged.

“Thanks. How’s Champ?” I inquired.

“You never like to talk about things like that, Yuki. When did you become so interested in other people’s affairs?” Yuka questioned.

“Just tell me already,” I said, stopping at a red light.

“Champ’s been acting kind of weird lately. He’s been reading a lot of introductory books on math and science,” Yuka confided.

He was trying to pinpoint the hero’s weaknesses. I had doubts he could do so. It wouldn’t matter how many books he read, especially concerning Kisai. Counteracting his magic and quick thinking required skills Yuka’s boyfriend lacked. That sort of thing stemmed from experience, more than research.

“Yuki, I noticed you’re wearing a new outfit. Who picked it out?” Yuka observed, pointing at my coat.

“Oh, Felicity invited me and Tess to the mall on Sunday. She knew this designer who hooked us up,” I replied.

“I never thought you and Felicity would become such great friends,” Yuka remarked, smiling.

“To be honest, I didn’t either. Felicity isn’t exactly the type of person I thought I could get along with very well,” I agreed.

“That’s so cold of you, Yuki, but that is you,” Yuka commented.

“I can’t help it,” I shrugged, pulling into Yuka’s driveway.

“You still ended up being her friend though. You’re slowly making progress. Thanks for the ride,” Yuka exited with a wave.

I shifted gears to reverse, but saw my phone vibrate. I glanced at the screen, seeing Tess’ name. Perfect timing.

“Hey, Tess, I have something….,” I began but Tess prevented me from finishing.

“I will be busy for the next few days. However, I will leave a portal open, which requires a key. Kisai will have possession of it, so contact him if you wish to head in,” Tess revealed.

“Okay. Oh, I talked to Bartholomew today, and he wanted an exhibition match with Ichaival. Lionel wanted a rank-up match,” I informed her of their request.

“I will approve Bartholomew’s match with Darryl. Lionel must wait. I apologize, but can you contact Darryl for me? Reach out to Shigetzu if you need his contact information. Goodbye for now,” Tess directed, hanging up.

Damn it, all this extra work foisted onto me. I checked my contacts, realizing I didn’t have Shan’s number. Hold on, I did have Zhuyu’s contact information. He definitely knew Ichaival.

“Zhuyu, it’s me, Tomo,” I greeted.

“Did something happen?” he asked, his voice not exactly pleasant, but not irritated either.

“Could you call Ichaival for me? Tess approved an exhibition match between Bartholomew and him,” I asked.

“I can try, but he probably won’t respond. Is that it?” Zhuyu asked.

“Yeah, thanks a lot for your help, Zhuyu,” I replied.

“If you really need to see him, I can show you where he lives,” Zhuyu offered.

“It would be weird for me to just show up,” I refused.

“Yeah, you’re right. Never mind then,” Zhuyu agreed, understanding my viewpoint.

Alright, onto the next thing. Ask Kisai when he wanted to head into his affiliated dimension. I would plan around it, doing homework and other stuff beforehand.

“Kisai, it’s me, Tomo. Tess said you have the key to enter your dimension,” I started off the conversation.

“Did you want to go this week?” Kisai questioned.

“I was thinking you should decide, considering you know the dimension better than me,” I replied.

“I have work this weekend, so how about Friday, after you’re done with classes?” Kisai decided.

“Works for me. Wait, are Ichaival and Kuan free that day?” I asked.

“Why can’t it just be the two of us?” Kisai said with obvious humor.

“Uh….,” I thought of an appropriate answer.

“Don’t worry, pretty sure Kuan’s free. If Darryl doesn’t show up, then he’s a scrub. He’ll be there though, trust me,” Kisai assured me of their participation.

“I leave it to you,” I said.

“We could get Feng, you know. Have her just tear through everything. Or even Long, he can just stand there and be bait,” Kisai offered alternatives.

“You’re just messing with me now, Kisai,” I said, a little amused by his statement.

“Okay, okay. I’ll be serious. It worked last time with just us, right? Without Tess, this could be problematic, but should be fine,” Kisai said.

“Just don’t get us killed, please,” I said.

“No promises. I’ll see you later, then,” Kisai hung up.

Friday, huh? There was chemistry homework due that night, so I should finish it now. Then, there were midterms to worry about too. I still had the weekend and Monday too. Everything would work out.

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