It had been 3 days since Oscar had met the 5 people he might just be able to call his friends, but he hadn’t left his house since he got back afterward. His dad was ecstatic that he had made new friends and suggested that Rhydian come visit the bookshop sometime.
Oscar made his way out of his room and went to the little reading nook he had by the large window that overlooked the street behind their shop. Strangely enough, it hadn’t stopped storming all week.
Oscar’s wristband vibrated for what felt like the 50th time that morning and he let out an irritated sigh. ******, Jasmin shut up already.
5 new text messages.
Oscar tapped the notification to confirm that it was indeed Jasmin who was bothering him.
Baka: oscar-chan plz don’t ignore me~
Baka: plzzz I’m lonely Oscar-chan~
Baka: hey you said you work at a book shop, right~?
Baka: oscar-chan I’m booooooored~~~
Baka: fine, you leave me no choice~
Oscar sweat-dropped. Oh god. He had a bad feeling about this. Oscar closed the screen on his wristband and hurriedly got dressed into his usual outfit; a t-shirt, his green hoodie, a pair of basketball shorts, and his dark green converse. Glancing at himself in the mirror, he saw that his wavy hair was an absolute mess. He attempted to flatten the few pieces that were sticking up, but it didn’t make any difference.
Augh… I’ll have to fix it later.
The teenager yawned and made his way down to the kitchen, where his mother was making something else.
“Morning, mom,” Oscar mumbled, dragging his feet over to the counter. Mrs. Gilbertson smiled at him. “Don’t you mean ‘afternoon’?”
Oscar looked at the time and blinked. 1:25 PM.
Mrs. Gilbertson laughed. “How late were you reading last night?” She asked, pouring a cup of flour into a glass bowl. Oscar scowled.
“I wasn’t reading. An annoying blonde called Jasmin kept me up until 2 in the morning,” Oscar snarled, ferociously putting a piece of bread in the toaster. Mrs. Gilbertson glanced at him. “He seems to like talking to you,” She said, and Oscar let out a dry laugh. “He’s annoying as hell. I want to shove him down a staircase.”
Mrs. Gilbertson was about to reply, but Oscar’s dad called for him from the bookshop below. “Oscar! Come downstairs for a minute!”
Oscar sighed. “Be right back,” He muttered, before heading down the spiral staircase. Now my toast is gonna get cold…
As he reached the bottom step, he immediately regretted ever waking up in the first place. Jasmin was standing next to Mr. Gilbertson with a wide grin on his face. “Hey, Oscar-chan~!”
Oscar looked to his dad. “Um. Why is he here?” He asked through gritted teeth. Mr. Gilbertson smiled. “He asked me if an ‘Oscar-chan’ worked here and I told him you did.”
Oscar let out a groan and pinched the bridge of his nose. You’re freaking kidding me.
“Why don’t you take him upstairs to your room?”
Oscar glared daggers at Jasmin. “Fine.” He spun around on his heel and Jasmin thanked Mr. Gilbertson before following Oscar upstairs.
When they reached the second floor, Oscar went to get his toast. Jasmin followed him and said hello to Mrs. Gilbertson. Oscar tried his best to ignore Jasmin’s presence, but that was much easier said than done.
“Oscar-chan I’m sorry for keeping you up so late~” Jasmin apologized with a wink as Oscar turned around, eating his toast. Jasmin stuck out his tongue to make it even more annoying and Oscar was tempted to take some of the flour that was on the counter and smear it across the blonde’s face.
Oscar decided just to glare at Jasmin before walking over to the spiral staircase and up to his room, munching on his toast in the process.
Jasmin followed behind, making Oscar slightly uncomfortable. Once they reached the top floor and went into Oscar’s room, the peach haired boy went to his reading nook and grabbed a book that he was in the middle of.
Meanwhile, Jasmin was looking around Oscar’s room with curiosity. “Wow, Oscar-chan, your room is so cool~!” He said, making Oscar sigh. I wish he wouldn’t call me that.
“C’mon, baka, we’re not staying in here. We’re going down by the river.” Oscar tucked his book into his hoodie and finished his toast. Jasmin blinked at Oscar, who raised an eyebrow. “What?”
Jasmin chuckled. “Haha… it’s nothing. Anyway, let’s go, Oscar-chan~!” Jasmin winked at Oscar before grabbing the 17-year-old’s hand and leading him to the stairs.
“O-o-oi! W-what’re you- hey!” Oscar’s protests didn’t do anything as Jasmin lead him downstairs to the bottom floor. You idiot, let go of me-!
“Dad, help-!” Oscar exclaimed but was quickly pulled out the door before Mr. Gilbertson could say anything.
Oscar somehow managed to pull up his hood before the rain could get to his hair, but he wasn’t able to get away from Jasmin. What’s his problem?!
“Oi, slow down, I can’t keep up!” Oscar said to Jasmin, who only slowed down a little bit and kept going. Finally, they reached the side of the river and Jasmin stopped. “How about we sit on that dock down there~?” He suggested with a smile at Oscar, who narrowed his eyes and looked to the side. “Fine.”
“It might be slippery so hang on to my hand, okay, Oscar-chan~?”
Oscar’s head whipped around and he quickly pulled his hand away from Jasmin. “No. Thank. You. I can manage fine on my own.” Oscar’s voice was a low growl, but Jasmin didn’t seem bothered by it. He grinned instead.
I don’t understand this guy at all. Tch. He’s so annoying.
Oscar carefully began to make his way down the grassy slope that led to the dock, hoping desperately that his shoes wouldn’t slip on the slick grass. Unfortunately, they decided to betray him.
His right foot suddenly slid forward, making Oscar’s heart lurch and his hand shot out to Jasmin’s shoulder. Shit.
Jasmin glanced back at Oscar. “I warned you, Oscar-chan-” “Damare.“
The blonde haired boy raised both his eyebrows at Oscar. “Huh~?” Oscar narrowed his eyes at Jasmin. “It means shut up.”
The two continued down the slope until they finally reached the dock and Oscar took his hand away from Jasmin’s shoulder, walking to the end of the dock and sitting criss-cross. Jasmin did the same.
They stayed quiet for a little while before Oscar remembered something about where they were. I forgot about that.
“This place brings back annoying memories,” Oscar mumbled, putting his chin on the palm of his hand and staring out at the river.
Jasmin glanced at him. “Oh~?”
Oscar couldn’t help but let out a sour chuckle. “Yeah.” He furrowed his eyebrows, but his bitter smile stayed in place as his chest swirled with resentment. “When I was… 14, I think, I was hanging out here with a few of my ‘friends’-” He put quotation marks around the word with his right hand, “And I had brought a book with me, like always. But one of them wanted me to pay attention to them instead of reading and they tore the book out of my hands and threw it into the river.”
Jasmin frowned. “I’m sorry, Oscar-chan…”
“I punched him in the face.”
The blonde boy stared at Oscar for a moment. “E-eh?! You did~?!” His voice was filled with complete astonishment. Oscar couldn’t help but feel a bit proud of himself.
“Y-e-p. He deserved it. No one, no one, messes with my books, or they’ll pay the price,” Oscar snarled, anger at what had happened all those years ago beginning to course through him again. “I realized then that people are annoying as hell and friends don’t exist.”
Jasmin laughed softly, making Oscar bristle. “It’s not **-” “You’re so silly, Oscar-chan~.”
Oscar’s gray eyes narrowed. “What?”
Jasmin put his hand on Oscar’s leg, making the peach haired boy tense.
“I’m your friend, aren’t I~?”
Oscar’s eyes widened in surprise at Jasmin’s words, quickly looking away when he realized that he was staring. “Baka.” I hate you.
He felt embarrassed and annoyed. He couldn’t bring himself to say that Jasmin was right, but he couldn’t bring himself to say that he was wrong, either. God, you’re so annoying, bakayaro.
After a few minutes of cooling down his agitation, Oscar noticed that the rain had temporarily stopped and he took his hood down. A sudden shout of laughter came from Oscar’s left and he let out an irritated sigh, turning to glare at Jasmin. “What now?!”
I can’t get a moment’s peace from this idiot.
It took Jasmin a moment to catch his breath before he said, “Your hair- it looks like you have cat ears~!” Jasmin exclaimed through tears before he began laughing again, then reminding Oscar of his terrible bedhead that he’d given up on. His face flushed and he smacked the side of Jasmin’s head. “S-shut up! Kutabare!” Oscar exclaimed, pulling his hood back up. “I’ll push you in the river, boke!”
Ace twirled a strand of his dark cherry hair in boredom as he stared at his computer screen. This is taking too long…
After he had gotten back from the cafe on Tuesday, he hadn’t been able to get much further on his new software. Normally he would be happy to be working on it and progressing, but he hadn’t been able to focus and now he was just not in the mood to do anything.
If this keeps up I’ll never finish it.
His mind began to wander off to the events on Tuesday. Meeting 5 new people- well, 6, including Kalisha- had surprised him. He hadn’t been able to get much information about them, either, which was odd. I didn’t get a lot, but I got enough to know the basics. However… what’s-his-name would be able to get a hell of a lot more info on them than I can, despite his not being a cyborg.
The blue haired kid with glasses is Rhydian Merrick. He comes from a rich family and receives a high education, but he doesn’t go to a public school. He’s 16-years-old.
The photographer is Luca Drăgan. His family is middle class. He’s 18 and has a disease called pararibulitis. Goes to a public school. Multiple holes in his attendance record. The two largest were two years apart. The most recent one was a year and a half ago. Reasons why are unknown.
The freckled bookworm is Oscar Gilbertson. Despite his parents having a lot of money, they run a bookshop on the corner of Cherry and Dove. He’s 17 and goes to a private school.
The steampunky kid is Reuben Gridley. He’s 19 and works at a clock shop. His mother died in a car crash almost a year ago and he has two brothers; a twin and younger brother. His dad works both at the clock shop and has a position in the governing council.
The flirty blonde is Jasmin Lloyd. He works at Julius Scissor’s Hair and Makeup. His family is middle class and he went to university to study cosmetology. He’s 20 years old, like me. He has a younger sister.
Ace paused as a magazine flew to the front of his vision during his search. He’s also-?
“I’m not surprised…” Ace muttered to himself before closing the screen in front of his eyes and glancing at his watch. 1:30pm.
What am I supposed to do now?
The cyborg was just about to grab the remote to see if there were any important updates on the news when his wristband buzzed. Someone was calling him.
Ace raised an eyebrow as he saw the name on the screen. I wonder what he wants.
He tapped the answer button, feeling curious, and said, “Er, hey, Reuben.”
“Sorry to bother you at a time like this, but I need your help with something.”
Ace blinked. My help?
“You aren’t bothering me at all, kid. So, what do you need?”
“Uh, well… do you think you could figure out where Luca lives?”
Where he… lives?
“I-it’s nothing weird or anything like that! And I don’t mean to sound creepy or stalkerish if I do, I swear!” Reuben replied quickly, sounding somewhat panicked. Ace couldn’t help but chuckle.
“I never thought you did, don’t worry about it.”
“O-okay. Well, I feel like we should go cheer him up or something, you know? After what happened on Tuesday…”
He has a point, there.
“Yeah, I get it. I’ll see if I can figure out where and text you where to meet me, okay?”
“Awesome! Thanks, Ace!” Reuben hung up.
The cyborg closed his computer screen and phone screen and pulled up a search for Luca’s location.
Luca ignored the buzzing from his wristband as he poured milk into his bowl of cereal. He pulled out a spoon and was about to take a bite, but he quickly lost his appetite.
******… that’s the fourth time today.
Luca swallowed. I don’t want to waste this, though. A cold feeling entered his stomach as he began to force himself to eat the cereal. It’s not that much, so it shouldn’t bother me.
Once he finished he rinsed out the bowl and was about to clean up his kitchen a little, when he realized he had been very wrong.
Luca just barely made it to the bathroom in time before he threw up everything he had eaten that day. This isn’t fair.
Ever since Tuesday, he hadn’t been able to keep anything he ate in his stomach. Even a little food made him sick. He didn’t understand why.
Just as Luca began to splash cold water on his face, there was a loud knock at the front door.
Who could that be?
Curious and somewhat scared, Luca dried his face with a towel and slowly walked to the door, hoping that it would be his aunt and not someone he didn’t know. He’d had several bad experiences like that already and desperately prayed that it wasn’t some random stranger he might accidentally puke on.
Luca shakily grabbed the door handle and opened the door a crack.
He stared in surprise at Reuben and Ace, who stood on the other side. Definitely wasn’t expecting that.
“W-w-what are you two doing here?” He stuttered in confusion, opening the door a bit wider so that they could come inside his apartment.
Reuben grinned. “We wanted to cheer you up!”
Luca’s chest clenched a bit. “O-oh, u-um… y-you didn’t have to do that!” He said, rather nervously. Truthfully, Luca was really happy that they had decided to visit him. Hopefully, I won’t do anything stupid.
Ace ruffled Luca’s hair. “We wanted to, dork. But it was Reuben’s idea, not mine.” His light brown eyes shifted to Reuben as he put his hands in his pockets.
Reuben smiled sheepishly and rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t like it when people are gloomy, that’s all. Besides, we’re your friends now, so what kind of people would we be if we didn’t?” the blue-haired boy explained, catching Luca slightly off guard.
Luca’s gaze dropped to the floor. That’s… definitely not something I’m used to.
His eyes began to burn and he grabbed his left arm, struggling to keep his emotions under control. Why do I feel like crying? I would’ve thought that this isn’t something you’d cry over…
“Luca?” Reuben’s voice brought the confused 18-year-old out of his thoughts and Luca looked at him. Reuben tilted his head. “You okay? You look pale.”
Luca wiped at his eyes before nodding with a smile. “Y-yeah, I’m okay,” He replied. Reuben grinned back. “Alright, just checking on ya.”
I never thought people with their sort of personality existed. I’m not used to it.
Ace put his hand on Luca’s shoulder and seemed to be about to say something when his wristband vibrated. “Ah, hang on, I’ve got an email.”
The cyborg turned around and clicked on the blue notification bar.
I’ve got a job for you.
P.S. Bring shrimp chips.
****, it had taken him long enough. A grin curved onto Ace’s face. Looks like I’ll have something to do after all.