Chapter 21 – Homecoming (2)

Homecoming – Part 2

      “What are you thinking, my queen?” Gee asks.

      “Queen? And I was just thinking that Grandpa was especially weird. I don’t know what I could possibly tell him.”

      When dinner time rolls around I’ve still come up with nothing. “You want me to just not ask? How can you be that cruel, Eve?” Grandpa sounds so hurt.

      My head hangs low, my food untouched. I can tell Gee wants to speak up, but she doesn’t. He lets out a hell of a sigh.

      “Fine.”

      My eyes shoot up to his. “Just eat. Maybe one day you’ll trust me enough to tell me the truth. I’ll make the calls needed to get you back in school tomorrow since you’re apparently just fine.”

      I can only nod in turn before I start to eat. The food overwhelms me when it touches my tongue. The flavors come alive in such a powerful way that I can’t help but twist my face in displeasure.

      “What is it? You don’t like it? But bio-porkchops were always your favorite.”

      After forcing the food down, I can’t help but actually take note of the food. He’s not wrong. What lays out before me is everything I’ve always loved most. All artificial and biomedically grown. No animals or plants were harmed in the making of the food.

      Yet to me, it’s overwhelming. The tastes washes over me in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. “Sorry. I think it just might be a little strong for me.”

      He furrows his brow and switches his plate for mine. Grandpa has always been known to have a bland pallet. Yet when his food hits me, the taste is wonderful. A big smile accost my lips. Seeing this, he looks at me in confusion.

      Next to us, Gee is eating in a super proper manner. She makes no indication of whether she likes it or not. Grandpa’s face, however, twists when he tastes my previous food. I can’t help but laugh at him.

      “No stronger than usual. Eve, are you sure you’re ok?”

      I give him a nod while devouring the rest of my food.

      Before long, Gee and I are sitting on my bed about to go to sleep. Grandpa wasn’t happy about her staying here, and in my room at that, but he appeared to believe arguing wasn’t worth the effort.

      “You ready?” I ask Gee.

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      “I can’t wait to sleep with you,” she says with a flick of her tongue against her bottom lip.

      “We’re only sleeping Gee.” She gives an audible tsk.

      I lay down and as predicted, Gee snuggles up to me. I can’t help but let a small smile out at the predictability of her actions. She runs her thumb along my lips, her now-green eyes twinkle under the moonlight from my window. I reach out and slide a strand of her hair behind her ear. She coos in response. That brings attention to what I’m doing and I pull my hand away. What the hell?

      Gee wraps her arms around me and I tense in preparation of what she’ll do next.

      “Goodnight my queen,” she says before closing her eyes. I stare at her in wonder for minutes before I realize that her breath has evened out- she’s asleep. Well, that was surprising. Maybe there’s more to her than just being a pervert.

      The morning is still young when I wake up. Sliding out from underneath Gee’s grip was easy. She seems to be a heavy sleeper. With nothing to do this early- before the birds even started to sing, I head to the dojo.

      When I enter the room I’m overcome with nostalgia. Yet not for the times of old, here with Dad and Grandpa. I was hit with a strong set of memories from my time training with Charlie and her lovely green hair shifting around with every swing. I think about the way her hair gave off the feeling of a lush grass plain, stretching beyond the horizon.

      I step inside the dojo and take up the kata of Mimi’s. Mimi’s mischievous smile floats to my mind. But behind her eyes was the first crackle of lightning and the confidence to break me.

      I start moving through my forms as more memories assail me. My time in that world was short, yet I will never forget it.

      I push my body quickly through the forms, correcting myself where necessary- knowing Mimi would scold me if I were to mess up and practice with mistakes. The sun greets me with its warmth as an old bird echoes its fake caw.

      My muscles burn and sweat flies from me when I finally notice Grandpa’s staring at me. I immediately stop, suddenly embarrassed to be caught. “Morning.” I quietly call out.

      “And what was all of that?” He asks me. Yet I can only tilt my head in confusion. “That wasn’t learned from our dojo.”

      I can’t help by rub the back of my neck nervously. Before I can think of a response, Grandpa has crossed the ten feet between us in an instant and taken a swing at me. The force carries enough power and speed to put me in the hospital. Yet it’s slow compared to what I’ve dealt with.

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      It’s strange, I have no magik within me now. Yet the physical training alone must have honed me in ways I thought impossible.

      His fist sails between my head and shoulder as I pivot outwards. With a twist of my foot, I adjust my weight inward enough to put force behind my strike. With a thud, my strike makes contact with Grandpa’s sternum- Yet he stands. I guess without magik or Rei, standard rules still apply. He’s still got nearly three feet on me and probably close to two-hundred pounds.

      I pull back as he does, and I awkwardly shift my weight from hip to hip. “What was that all about?”

      He wraps his arms around me and hugs me tight. “What’s happened to you, my Ember?”

      I tense in his arms. It’s been so long since he’s called me that. I’m really uncomfortable in his hug like this, as I don’t know what he means.

      “You haven’t called me that in forever.” This gets a haughty laugh from him.

      “Your attitude is fiery, but you’re so small- so only an Ember.”

      “But an ember may be the single spark to start that which covers the world. I know Grandpa. But I resent being called small.” He gives me a wry smile as he backs away. “But what are you talking about?” I ask.

      His expression is one of sorrow as he continues his earlier line of thought, “Your movements were so unlike the you of before. What have you been doing to force you to become so skilled?”

      “Grandpa…” I let it hang in the air, but before long my stomach growls. “I need to shower, if you wanna make us breakfast.” I escape the room and the awkward atmosphere.

      When I get out of the shower and changed into my school wear, I notice Gee at the kitchen table, sitting in awkward silence with Grandpa. The smell of food is really enticing though, so I walk in and try to act chipper.

      “Smells good.”

      “I made it with lighter seasoning. Tell me how you like it.”

      I take a bite of my breakfast and it’s delicious. It’s a bio-fish alongside some rice. “Eastern today?” I ask around my food. For just a moment I expected a snappy comment about my manners, but all that happens is a nod from Grandpa before he digs in himself. I guess that’s another thing I picked up…

      “Eve, what is… Gee?” he pauses, “Going to do when you go to school?” Before I can answer, she does.

      “I’m going to go for a walk. I wanna see the city.” I do a double-take and look at her. She gives me a smile and waves us off.

      “I gotta go. I love you Grandpa,” I give him a quick hug before running off.

      When I round the corner of my street, I see Gee waiting for me. “You are not running around this city on your own.”

      She gives me a frown, “I wasn’t planning to. I’m going to get some real sleep, inside your shadow. Wake me up when your day is over.”

      Before I can say anything, she melts into my shadow. And I mean that literally. She looks as if she’s falling apart into a liquid-like ash as she disappears into my shadow.

      “Well that’s crazy looking.”

      But all I hear is a small laugh somewhere within me. With weary steps, I make my way to school- nervous about my return.

      The moment I step into the classroom, the room falls quiet enough to hear a pin drop. Even Mr. Gordon, the teacher, is staring like he’s seen a ghost. I feel so awkward I don’t know what to do. So I give everyone a little wave and try my best to casually walk over to my desk.

      Mr. Gordon clears his throat and stops me. “Uh. Right. Let’s um,” I’ve never seen him so flustered before. “Miss Sayagawa, it’s good to have you back. But maybe-” I cut him off by walking around his desk and up to him.

      “Good to see you Mr. Gordon.”

      I reach out and grab his tie, aware of how bad this is to do. I pull him down to me, gently. When we’re eye level, I start straightening his tie for him.

      “There. Now you look handsome. Let’s get to work on some history, ne?”

      With that, I turn and go to my seat- still vacant, because that’s efficiency for you. When I look back up to him, he’s wearing the same expression everyone else is- shock. However, he’s also a little red. So, mission accomplished?

      I relax into my chair, soaking in everyone’s looks. I believe in the past, such attention easily would have unnerved me. Indeed, it probably would unnerve most people. But the attention is weak compared to what I’ve grown accustomed to.

      When I look over, I see Jamie with a look on her face I can’t quite place. But when our eyes meet, she offers me a wry smile and a little mock-salute. After I return one in kind, Mr. Gordon clears his throat again and continues his lecture.

      Today, History class was interesting.

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