Volume 10, Chapter 4-1: Before the Meeting
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Wednesday Spring Break 2016 Day 3

I woke up to the sounds of birds chirping. I yawned, checking the time. Still early, almost nine. Today was finally the day. I changed clothes and headed downstairs. Yukie sat at the dinner table, tapping her tablet screen.

“Morning, Yukie. How long have you been up?” I greeted, opening the fridge.

“I woke up around seven. I’ve been putting final touches on the bracelet. It should be ready by Friday,” Yukie answered, pointing at my wrist.

“That’s great to hear. What are you going to do with the one I’m wearing now?” I asked.

“I’ll salvage the parts. It would be a waste just to throw it away,” Yukie replied.

“I see. Did Mom tell you when she’s done with work today?” I questioned, pouring cereal into a bowl.

“Auntie said that she would be home early today. She wanted to make sure everything was ready,” Yukie answered.

“Okay. What are your plans for today, Yukie?” I grabbed the milk carton from the fridge.

“I will be in the garage as usual. Call me if anything comes up,” Yukie responded, picking up her tablet and heading out.

What was I going to do? I had time to kill and I wasn’t in the best shape to go anywhere. While the aches weren’t as severe, it still hurt. Maybe I should be a well-rounded individual and start searching for a job. Although, I didn’t know when this mess with the heroes would end. Might as well check, I would have to sooner or later.

After two hours of checking websites and speaking to various friends, I wrote down several places of interest. Enough of that for now. Let’s do something unproductive and not beneficial in advancing myself towards any future goals. That thing would be watching random online videos.

“Yuki, it’s lunchtime!” Yukie called my name.

It was already one. Time really flew by. I headed to the dining table and saw sandwiches. Well, I definitely expected something more fancy. I was spoiled by her so much that a sandwich looked boring and unappealing. But, I was hungry, so I would take what I could get.

“Sorry for the simple lunch. I hope you still enjoy it,” Yukie said, washing her hands.

“I’m just glad to get food. You have no idea how hard it is to cook complicated food. I really hope you can help me get better,” I responded, taking a bite of the sandwich.

This brought back unpleasant memories of the infamous sandwich fight involving Ichizen. While that experience was enhanced and exaggerated, it did have a real life basis. While not exactly a fight, Ichizen staked his pride on a sandwich someone popular in school talked down to him about.

“You have a complicated expression on your face, Yuki,” Yukie noted.

“It’s nothing. Just remembering something,” I answered, clearing my thoughts.

“What are your feelings on meeting Ichizen’s sister? You seem to have reservations,” Yukie asked, slicing her sandwich in half with a knife.

“Honestly, I’m not sure what to expect. You never take interest in things like this, Yukie,” I said.

“I’m always curious, Yuki,” Yukie responded with a smile.

I finished my sandwich and assisted Yukie with the dishes. What to do next though? I prepared to watch another archive video when the doorbell rang.

“Manami?” I questioned, opening hte door.

“Hey Yuki, I’m so glad to see you again!” she greeted me with a big hug.

“Yeah, welcome back. Are you staying over at Ichizen’s house?” I glanced at her in surprise.

“I’m actually staying at my house. I came back to see his sister for myself,” Manami explained.

“You’re a lot more worried than I am,” I remarked.

“Ah, welcome,” Yukie greeted Manami.

“Yukie, nice to see you again,” Manami said.

“Ichizen’s cousin, if I recall. How are you doing today?” Yukie inquired.

“Good. I’ll be tagging along with Yuki today when she goes over to see Ichizen’s sister. Are you coming with us too?” Manami informed her.

“Yes, I am. Please make yourself at home, Manami. Yuki, I shall be in the garage if you need anything,” Yukie replied before departing.

I caught up with Manami for the next few hours. Unfortunately, that meant I couldn’t watch any battle videos. Ace’s commentary really was the best part. Today, she wore a green bird ornament in her hair. Oh, I remembered tagging along with Ichizen when he bought that as a present for her.

“Yuki, your clothes are so fancy,” Manami commented.

“Oh, Felicity hooked me up. Well, more like one of the clients she worked with picked them out,” I answered.

“Sica, right? Your photo was in a magazine about her new fashion line!” Manami exclaimed.

“I didn’t even know until Chihiro came over the other day and gave me a copy,” I confirmed.

“Let me see! You still have it, right?” Manami requested.

“Sure. We might as well do something since it’s not time yet,” I agreed.

I found the magazine Chihiro placed on my bookshelf and discovered a convenient bookmark already in it. This saved me the trouble of having to flip through the pages. They all looked the same to me anyways. I always struggled finding the main feature because even that page appeared too similar to advertisements and other articles.

“Bookmarked by Chihiro for my convenience and yours,” I informed her.

“Oh, it’s really you! I wasn’t sure at first but my intuition was right,” Manami said.

“I didn’t even know she took these. I don’t mind though. How did you even see me in there? It’s not something I picture you reading,” I asked.

“I get bored waiting at the checkout line,” Manami replied.

“Yeah, it can be pretty boring. Hold on, I think I heard the doorbell ring,” I said and headed downstairs.

Zhuyu stood outside carrying a folder with papers bulging from it. He gave a wave with his free hand when I opened the door.

“Hey Tomo, I have interesting stuff for you from Tess. Sorry for not calling. Probably a bad idea to just assume you were home doing nothing,” Zhuyu greeted me, handing over the thick folder.

“Do you not have anything to do?” I inquired, realizing that sounded really derogatory.

“Well, pretty much. I don’t work like Jin, so yeah, I pretty much am a bum. Thank you so much, Tomo. Half of the stuff is related to Michi’s sister and the rest are papers Tess wanted you to have,” Zhuyu answered with a slight smile.

“Yuki, who are you talking to?” Manami came down the stairs, standing next to me.

“Oh, this is Zhuyu Long, a sophomore at my university. He came over to give me some papers,” I introduced the zero vector user.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Machi Manami,” she greeted him.

“Nice to meet you too. Like Tomo said, I’m Zhuyu Long, one of Tess’ infamous friends. Sorry to bother you, Tomo. Just make sure you don’t let anything out of that folder slip out, okay?” Zhuyu reminded me and then left.

Zhuyu entered his car and drove away. Yes, I got your warning, Zhuyu. A bit too obvious in my opinion. Manami and I returned to my room.

“You’re not going to take a look?” Manami asked.

“I’ll get around to it eventually. How are classes?” I asked.

“They’ve been alright. I pulled two all nighters for finals but I survived. It’s okay!” Manami replied.

“Your classes seem tougher than mine. I don’t envy you, Manami,” I said.

“Oh don’t worry, your classes will get tougher. You’ll wish you were taking easier classes again,” Manami warned.

“I know, I know,” I said, well aware.

We hung out in my room until Mom came home. She looked at Manami in surprise, unaware she was back. Yukie came in a few minutes later, carrying a small bag.

“Are we all ready?” Mom asked.

“Yes, I believe so,” Yukie answered.

“Everything is good on our side,” I replied.

Mom brought the fruit basket and a bottle of wine. Perfect gifts for any household. On the way there, I felt some worry and nervousness setting in. It was just Ichizen’s sister. No connections or history with Ichizen. There was still this small part of me harboring suspicions no matter what. Would I discover I was correct or completely crazy for even thinking that?

“We’re here!” Mom announced.

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