Dimensions: the Quarter Piece

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Chapter 11: Powers

Hiroshida was already on the phone when the three of them walked out of the park together, leaving the statues behind.

Makoto wasn’t entirely sure why Tadashi was following them, and she was tempted to push him into the bushes.

But then Tadashi passed her, strode up to her father and bowed. “Makoto and I have an interview scheduled for our case. Please excuse us.”

Hiroshida diverted his attention from his business call for half a second, long enough to wave both of them away.

Tadashi turned and sauntered past Makoto again, hands in his pockets, expecting her to follow.

Inconceivably, she did.

“What interview?” She demanded, catching up to him.

“Evonna Lemar.” He responded simply.

“And you weren’t planning on warning me?”

“I could have kidnapped you and dropped you on her doorstep. Consider this a warning.” Tadashi said arrogantly.

“Insufficient.” She shot back. “What is your deal, anyway? If you hate me so much, why do you keep showing up and helping me?”

“I feel sorry for you.” He said shortly.

Makoto’s blood boiled. He felt sorry for her. He felt sorry for her? “Hey.” Her voice was like a knife as her hand captured his elbow and jerked him around to face her. “I’m not some helpless puppy in need of adoption, okay? So make up your mind. Hate me? Awesome. Leave me alone. Wanna be my friend? Great. Find some humanity. But don’t go tap dancing on the tightrope between them. I’ll cut the rope and burn your safety net.”

A lazy smirk crawled across his face and he tapped her cheek with two fingers. “Cute.”

She shoved his hand away. “Stop that! What are you doing?”

He merely turned away and kept walking, leaving her to storm after him, angry enough to push him into the streets the moment she got close enough.

Instead, she decided that it might be more beneficial to keep their relationship strictly professional. It could mess up her career if she got carried away and ended up killing him.

Some detective.

“So who are we going to interview?” She asked briskly, unable to remove the ice from her tone.

“Lemar lives in the other dimension that you’ve recently found out about.” Tadashi said, somehow managing to sound demeaning in a simple sentence.

Makoto couldn’t believe he was so far ahead of her in her own case.

“There’s a high likelihood that she knows something about the Quarter Piece.”

Makoto felt around in her purse, making sure she had her notepad. “What do you know about Dimension X?”

“I know that some of the people there speak a type of English that is almost like Old English, so I recommend you avoid vague figures of speech and pop culture references for purpose of clarity.” He told her.

Finally, Makoto found a small reason not to feel completely stupid in his presence. “Actually, it’s probably a misconception, though a very common one, that people pulled out of time wouldn’t understand figurative language. People used to speak extremely symbolically rather than literally.”

There was a short pause as Tadashi either processed her words or completely ignored her.

They got to a crosswalk, waited for the light to turn, and got all the way across to the other side of the street before he spoke again. “How do you figure that?”

Makoto smirked. He was flailing helplessly in ignorance and she loved it. “Ever read Revelation? The whole thing is written in symbolic language.”

“Read it.” He responded. “Didn’t make sense.”

“Takes a lot of time and extra research.” Makoto responded. Despite her dislike of him, she felt obligated to offer to study with him. “If it bothers you too much, I might be able to find time to help you make sense of it.”

“Unlikely, but I admire your confidence.” He responded.

Breathe. She told herself. Killing is bad. Killing is bad.

Evonna swung the door open on Tadashi’s second knock. She was tall, blonde, and quite interesting as far as fashion was concerned.

She wore a long sleeved black dress, a leather piece that Makoto identified as a jerkin, and a wide belt that openly carried a dagger and a leather pouch on her hip.

“Um—” Makoto blinked in confusion, swallowing her surprise and offering a quick smile. “Afternoon, Miss Lemar. My name is—”

“Makoto Akari.” Evonna firmly seized Makoto’s hand and shook it, before turning and doing the same to Tadashi. “And Tadashi Kido. Welcome, friends, come in.” She smiled gently and stepped aside.

Makoto almost expected the apartment to be decorated in some kind of medieval style to follow the pattern of the woman’s clothes, but it seemed completely modern and normal.

“I saw the Memorial on television.” Evonna commented appreciatively, leading the way to the sitting area. She gestured for them to sit on one of the couches, and then sat on the one across from them. “It was an awesome ceremony.”

It took a second for Makoto to realize that she meant awesome in the original sense of awe-some. “Yes, ma’am. It was incredible.”

The woman nodded with a small smile. “Tadashi tells me that you are interested in the Quarter Piece.” She said as Makoto pulled her notepad out onto her lap and then searched through her purse for a pen.

A second later, Evonna was holding out a pencil. “You may use this if you need it.”

Makoto shuddered and miraculously, her fingers wrapped around a pen. “Thank you, but no. I have a pen.” She glanced at Tadashi to see if he’d noticed her odd reaction.

But he was giving the pencil a tight-lipped glare.

Despite how amusing it was to watch him scowl at a pencil, Makoto was more interested in the fact that they both shared a strange aversion to pencils.

She didn’t really even know why she hated them so much. For some reason, they just made her feel like they were dangerous.

Of course she never told anyone that. Who would take her seriously if they found out she was afraid of pencils?

But, since she practically lived at an institution of detectives, Makoto’s secret was observed by Chester. And though he didn’t know why, he knew and respected her hatred of the utensil and kept them away from her to the best of his abilities.

But back to the task at hand...

“If I may ask, do you have your own Quarter Piece?” Makoto asked, clicking her pen.

Evonna looked surprised. “No. I’m in no need of it—why would I be?”

Makoto paused. “How can you jump dimensions without it?”

Evonna smiled, shrugging lightly. “The coins are not what gives us the ability to expand our powers. It is no magic that strengthens us, but the misdirection and belief. We are led to believe that the coins give us power. We believe we can, so we do. It’s a technique designed by old teachers hundreds of years ago. Students didn’t have the confidence to reach for other dimensions so their instructors tricked them into realizing they already could.”

By the time Makoto finished copying the words down on her pad, her mind was already buzzing with more questions. “But they glow. They go together—what are they if not expansions of one’s strength?”

Evonna glanced at Tadashi, who had thus far remained silent. Nonetheless, she continued. “Many stones glow where I come from. This Quarter Piece was specifically crafted into four coins and a belt because they are for a specific person. The Quarter Piece you are after is an award of honor and valor, presented to a hero who rescued three entire cities roughly seventy-three years ago.”

Makoto’s pen scratched over her paper rapidly, efficiently capturing the information.

“Why is it here?” Tadashi finally contributed to the conversation.

“The warrior was faced by a great calamity when his two grandsons were abducted and transported across dimensions. He went after them, chasing the man who captured them. He disappeared and we never heard from him again.” Evonna sounded personally affected by the loss, and Makoto worried that Tadashi would say something insensitive and get himself punched in the face.

That wouldn’t be all too horrible, actually.

Please say something insensitive, Tadashi. She pleaded silently.

But, alas, he did not.

“I can only assume that he was overtaken by his enemies and his belongings plundered by the savages. In this world they would be perceived as far more valuable than even in my world. I presume that by now they are scattered with the wind.” Evonna finished with a sorrowful glance down at her coffee table.

“And what of the grandsons?” Makoto asked gently. It probably had nothing to do with her case, but she wanted to offer interest in the woman’s losses.

Evonna shook her head slowly. “As lost to us as their grandfather.”

“I’m very sorry.” Makoto responded seriously.

“I don’t suppose you know where the pieces could be, then?” Tadashi asked softly, his voice incredibly human for the enormous jerk that he was.

“We have two of them,” Makoto added, drawing the surprised gaze of the woman.

“I’m afraid I have no idea though I am immensely impressed that you have obtained as many as you have.” She smiled carefully and twisted her lips. “I’m sorry I could not be of any more help to you.”

Makoto shook her head kindly. “Not at all, ma’am, you’ve been enormously beneficial.” She stood up, Tadashi following her.

Her partner shook the woman’s hand politely. “Thank you for your help.” He said, and then made his way to the door.

Tadashi let Makoto lead the way back to her hotel. He should have gone in a different direction about half way to get to his own, less expensive hotel, but he wanted to make sure she got back alright.

When she asked him if he was staying in the same hotel, he responded in the negative with a rude comment about making sure she didn’t get lost.

After that she remained quiet and he watched her with remorse. She didn’t remember him at all. Not even a little bit.

In fact, she hated him too much to let him deep enough into her mind to pull up old memories.

He didn’t blame her, though. He would hate her too if she sought out to make him hate himself simply because he was male.

He had noticed that she reacted the same way to the pencil that he did. He couldn’t help but feel a spark of hope. Even if she didn’t remember why she didn’t like pencils, it was evident that the memories were still in there somewhere.

Tadashi pivoted to the side to avoid running into an expensively dressed gentleman who was hurrying down the sidewalk. As he did so, he felt his blade press against his leg from where it was hidden beneath his belt.

It drew his thoughts to the matter of his alter ego. He had to reveal himself to her as Hybrid so that she would know that he had stayed true to his claim and not abandoned his duties as bodyguard.

But he had to do it in a way that would not give him away. After all, it was slightly suspicious that both Hybrid and Tadashi, who were from the same tiny town, were in Chicago together at the same time.

The best way to push suspicion away from himself was to try to get himself and Hybrid in one room with her at the same time so that she would automatically rule him out.

If all he had to do was dress someone else up in his uniform, then it was no problem. But if there was an actual threat and Hybrid needed to have a confrontation in feline form, he would have to tread carefully.

Tadashi shook off his worries. He’d figure it out. He had no doubt that he could pull it off—not because she wasn’t smart enough to catch it, but because he was smart enough to scrape by.

When they got back to Makoto’s hotel, Tadashi turned and rounded the corner, but circled back to make sure she made it inside. After that, he closed his eyes and listened. Very faintly, even though she was behind closed doors, he heard her footsteps track across the lobby and up the stairs.

A short while later she was making her way down the hall and he heard a door open and shut. Soft voices mumbled in tones that implied no cause for concern.

Only after assuring himself she was safe did he backtrack two blocks and find his own bed.

“Dad, you want takeout?” Makoto asked, hanging her jacket up by the door.

Hiroshida was no longer on the phone, but he was busy at work on his laptop. He nodded distractedly. “Sounds good.”

After a few minutes of browsing the internet for a good menu, Makoto called and placed their order and then slipped into the bathroom to administer insulin. While she was in there, she shut off all the lights and inspected herself carefully.

Tiny little thread-like traces of red traversed her entire body, which she had quickly come to suspect were the blood sugar irregularities.

She had faint bruises and a couple of mostly-healed gashes.

Satisfied that she wasn’t going to be bleeding out in her sleep, Makoto turned the lights back on and left the bathroom.

They would be leaving Chicago at noon the next day which meant that if she had any more leads to follow in Illinois, she had to hurry up and investigate them before it was too late.

She was halfway through updating her progress report when she realized that she forgot to ask Evonna Lemar what the hero’s name was who went missing.

She made a note to ask Tadashi if he could get that information and then pulled her phone from her pocket. She sent a text to Chester, asking if he was conscious yet.

She didn’t really expect an answer, and she didn’t get one.

Heaving a worried sigh, Makoto dropped her phone and rubbed her face. How could she have gone to Chicago when her best friend was in a coma, burned to a crisp in a hospital bed?

She wanted nothing more than to be in Oregon, at his bedside, there for him when he awoke. She couldn’t bear to be so far away, not even close enough to know if something was wrong.

A sudden spike of pain exploded in her mind and she jerked in shock, groaning. But as soon as her eyes lifted, she got up so quickly she almost knocked her chair over.

A red, swirling circle of vapor was hovering right in front of her. A portal. There was a portal in her hotel kitchen.

She shot a panicked glance over the dividing wall to see if her father her noticed. As his back was turned to her and he was completely enthralled in politics he had no idea that there was a portal in his hotel kitchen.

Ignoring the pounding in her head and the hesitation that she felt, Makoto threw herself forward and ran into the vapor before she could talk herself out of it.

She passed through the red, a curious sensation crawling across her skin. When the smoke cleared she stopped short, nearly tripping over her own feet.

She was in a hospital.

Her eyes darted around almost feverishly, utter shock claiming her as she saw a familiar form sleeping on the hospital bed.

Makoto’s feet slowly carried her closer, peering in disbelief down at her best friend. Heart pounding rapidly, she realized that she knew exactly what happened.

One second she had been yearning to be in that very hospital room and the next second a portal was opening before her to Chester’s room. It had brought a headache, which only cemented the evidence in her mind.

Scott Winchester wanted her to have that case because she could generate portals out of thin air.

Makoto’s hands began to shake.

She could create shortcuts through space.

Her eyes flickered back to the portal, which was wavering weakly. Quick to return to the kitchen before her father missed her, Makoto bent over Chester’s bed. “I’ll be home tomorrow.” She murmured, squeezing his uninjured arm.

With that she turned and stepped back into the vapor.

The familiar microwave and stove top of the hotel kitchen appeared before her and she shivered, trying to rid herself of the weird feeling on her skin.

“Someone’s at the door.” Hiroshida’s voice called distractedly.

Makoto jumped and the portal vanished as her concentration slipped. She forced herself to breathe, looking her father’s way to see that he still hadn’t turned around.

“I’ve got it.” She told him, weakly crossing the room and opening the door to collect the food and pay the delivery man.

But the whole time, her mind was stuck on her newly discovered powers. Of course, that explained the various appearances of the red vapor—which, now that she thought about it, only happened when she was wishing she were somewhere else.

It kind of explained the raptors coming through in the library, except that that would mean that she had opened a portal to Dimension X when she wasn’t even thinking about it.

What a day.

Monday morning did not happen at all like she expected it would. The first noteworthy thing of the day took place moments after she drove into the parking lot.

She was walking toward the campus when she spotted a police cruiser parked next to the library, a familiar officer and student conversing next to it.

She meandered closer as Brian Copper pointed at Kido Tadashi’s hands.

“Get into a lot of fights, do you?” He asked, sounding suspicious.

Makoto glanced at the younger man’s hands, seeing the calluses that had caught Brian’s attention.

“Because, you see, we’ve had quite a few reports of assaults on campus. You been running around beating up students?”

“Officer.” Makoto spoke up, shooting Brian a quick smile. “You’ve got the wrong guy.” How could she possibly be defending Tadashi? Wouldn’t sixty-seven percent of her problems be solved by letting him have a little jail time?

“Why’s that, Detective?” Officer Copper asked, keeping his eyes on Tadashi.

She didn’t blame him. He was suspicious-looking.

But Makoto only reached for Tadashi’s hand and held it up so Brian could see. “It’s kind of embarrassing, actually.” She nodded to the hand as Tadashi just gave her an odd look.

“If the calluses were from him beating someone up—which is unlikely, by the way―weak stomach—then they would be across the knuckles below the fingers.” She gestured as she spoke.

Brian followed her train of thought wordlessly, while Tadashi just shifted his weight slightly and tried to tug his hand back.

Makoto kept it firmly ensnared in her grip. “But these calluses are on the first and second joints in the finger. Despite his heartless personality, Tadashi’s not your man. You’ll find that his hands are only evidence that he is a motorcyclist. And a not very good one.”

She finally dropped his hand and held up her own. “He’s not very good at those turns yet.”

It didn’t take much after that to convince the friendly officer that he needed to keep looking. Makoto bid him farewell and continued on her way, knowing with full confidence that Tadashi would follow her.

“You seemed sure of yourself,” He said dubiously from behind her.

She held up her own hand, nearly smacking him in the face with it, showing him identical calluses. “I know what I’m talking about.” She said. She also drove a race bike.

Her first period consisted of her trying very hard not to fall asleep while the professor droned on. She managed to keep herself awake by trying to remember everything she’d learned about the portals.

It was common for people to open portals to just about any place on earth—though, judging by the migraine Makoto got while opening the one from Illinois to Oregon, it took quite a lot of training—but it took considerable strength and confidence to be able to reach other dimensions.

Makoto didn’t really care about other dimensions. She was just glad that she had the ability to save on gas.

Tadashi was waiting for her in the hallway when she finished her class. She got one good look at his impatient expression and resolutely marched away from him.

Of course he followed her.

“How can I help you?” She asked flatly, refusing to look at him.

“We have to talk to the president.” Tadashi responded.

Makoto walked faster. “Why? Are you getting expelled? I won’t defend you again.”

“You were assigned to finding out if the legend that the Quarter Piece opens a portal to another dimension is true. According to Evonna’s information, it’s not true.”

“That’s not proof though, is it? We still have to find the remaining three pieces and let her see that they do nothing but glow.” Makoto responded. “Ever occur to you that Evonna might be lying to protect the pieces?”

“Don’t treat me like I’m stupid.” Tadashi responded sharply.

Makoto turned on her heel. “I am so sorry.” She said with false reverence. “I never meant you to demean you in such a horrible way.” With a biting glare, she continued down the hall.

She knew he wasn’t following when it got harder to hear his arrogance the farther away she got.

But a few seconds later, Makoto stopped. Her mouth went dry and she dropped the water bottle that she had been carrying.

At the end of the hall, in front of the door, was Sakuza, his scowl fixed firmly on her.

For the sake of not proving to Tadashi that she was a cowering wimp, Makoto strode strongly up to Sakuza. “What’s wrong?” She asked, wary of setting him off.

It was too late. He was already far too worked up to be brought back down.

He seized her arm and dragged her forcefully outside, around the corner, and then slammed her back against the wall. Her backpack had fallen from her shoulder in the skirmish, and was lying in the grass a few feet away.

Makoto gasped as his fingers dug into her shoulders. “Sakuza, stop!” She snapped, trying to shove him off.

He thwarted her attempts to kick him by planting his foot harshly into her knee, causing to cry out with tears of pain pricking at her eyes.

“Did you call the police?” He demanded in a guttural growl.

Her gaze was both hurt and angry as she met his eyes fearlessly. “No. But I wish I had.”

He slapped her twice across the jaw, and she saw stars as her skin stung. She entertained the possibility that he might have knocked one or two of her teeth loose.

“A detective showed up at the mansion today, Makoto.” He said darkly. “How did he know to come?”

“I don’t know.” She spat, throwing her weight against him, but he didn’t move away. Instead, he hit her again.

The muscles of her jaw tightened and throbbed with pain.

As abruptly as he’d slammed her against the wall, Sakuza went flying backwards, Hybrid’s arm wrapped around his throat.

The masked crime fighter threw Makoto’s brother to the ground and then dragged him back up, punching him in the eye so powerfully that Sakuza crumpled, unconscious, into the arms of Brian Copper.

Makoto sagged against the wall, cupping her face in her hands. Her eyes met Brian’s as he snapped the cuffs around Sakuza’s wrist. “What’s going to happen to him?” She asked carefully through a numb jaw.

“He’s suspected for theft and assault, and I definitely just saw him attack you.” Brian responded carefully. “He’s looking at some jail time.”

Makoto groaned and let her head fall back against the wall.

“Tell your father I’m sorry.” Brian said gently, and then he dragged her deadbeat brother towards his squad car.

As Makoto moaned softly, her jaw in her hands, Hybrid meandered over and leaned against the wall next to her, crossing his arms.

“You okay?” His modulated voice questioned softly.

Makoto spat out a mouthful of blood. “Yeah.” She grumbled. “I didn’t know protection from the brother was in the bodyguard’s job description.”

“Any threat, foreign or domestic.” He responded.

Makoto listened to birdsong for a moment before glancing at her bodyguard. “I thought you said you were going to be in Chicago.”

“I was.” He said. “But you didn’t need me, so I remained unobserved.” He straightened and looked down at her. “Your friend has been watching. I’ll leave you now. Be careful.”

In no more than a few seconds, he was gone, back into hiding. Makoto stared after him for a few long minutes, wondering how he could possibly move so quickly.

Wait. My friend?

Makoto’s face contorted in confusion as she glanced back at the corner of the building to find Tadashi leaning against it, his arms crossed.

She pushed herself off the wall in annoyance. “I think I’ve taken enough abuse today, Kido. Beat it.”

But he stepped forward, collected her backpack off of the ground and unzipped the front pocket.

“Hey!” She took a step forward, but slowed as her body objected to the activity.

He pulled out her insulin kit and readied her syringe. With slow, careful movements, he approached her, gently helped her slide her arms through her backpack straps, and then handed her the syringe.

Makoto stared at him in shock. “I don’t—”

“You need it.” He said, nodding to the syringe. “Distress will get you faster than natural hyperglycemia will.”

Makoto mumbled a reluctant thank you and quietly administered the insulin.

Tadashi handed her her case and she put the needle away, securing it once again in her backpack. She turned away, heading for her next class. “I really gotta learn to defend myself.” She muttered, aggravated that she’d been overpowered again.

“Why?” Tadashi scoffed, clearly having overheard her.

Makoto moaned, her hands clenching into fists. She knew it was too good to be true. He just couldn’t be nice for more than five minutes, could he?

She looked back at him just in time to see him smack a leaf out of the air. What a nut.

“You couldn’t stand a chance against a man even if someone tries to train you. And besides—even if you could, guys don’t like girls who can beat them up.” He stuffed his hands in his pockets, kicking at rocks as he caught up with her.

She would have poked his eyes out if she were confident that she could reach them. “Why not? Guys hate that a girl might be able to serve the consequences of him being a jerk, while every single girl has to get comfortable with the fact that any guy could beat her up simply because as a male he’s stronger.”

Tadashi shrugged. “That’s the way it is.”

Makoto barked out a laugh so sharp that he flinched. “You know what? I’m not okay with that—and stop assuming that I care what guys find attractive, okay? My life does not depend on me finding a guy, so stop acting like that’s all that matters.”

Tadashi gave her a patronizing look and took her arm. “Makoto. I don’t usually care, but in your case you should know—you could be protected. Women are helpless to defend themselves—”

Makoto slapped him off. “Yeah, because of people like you who won’t let them learn to fight because it’s not feminine. There is no shame in strength. Women are allowed to be wary of men. The same people who tell girls that they can’t learn to fight, their place is in the home, are the same people who tell boys that they’re bigger, stronger, and in charge.”

The look she earned from him for that comment was something she was almost proud of. “Some of those boys are going to grow up and misuse that knowledge. And then we little, defenseless, home keeping girls can’t go out to dinner without being fearfully wary of the group of guys at the soda machine.” Makoto continued, jogging a few steps forward to keep in stride with him as he scoffed at her.


“The Bible refers to women as the weaker vessel, you probably knew that. Okay, sure. I know that. Anyone who doesn’t is lying to themselves. So that means we need protection, right? Alright, then, guys—protect us.” She poked him in the arm and gave him an expectant look.

Tadashi stared at her like she’d grown two extra heads.

“Right.” Makoto laughed at herself. Then she fixed him with a glower. “I’m not leaving my safety or my friends’ safety in the hands of people who won’t always be there.” She raised her eyebrows pointedly. If she wanted the fact that she’d been kidnapped ten times to be public knowledge, she’d use it right then.

They had reached their history building and Tadashi was still laughing at her.

He had the nerve to open the door for her. She decided not to be a total brat and stepped through, giving him a sweet smile and a thank you.

“What, you won’t let a guy fight for you but you’ll let one open a door for you?” He shook his head at her.

Makoto shrugged. “You know I can open my own door. I could even open a door for you. It’s not a gender specific effort.”

He glanced at his watch. “Ten minutes.”

She wasn’t done yet, however. While she was still feeling brave, she quickly spit out another thought. “If men are so superior, then why didn’t God stop at Adam?”

Tadashi glanced at her with a smirk. “Someone has to so the dishes.”

Makoto narrowed her eyes. “As soon as Brian leaves I’m going to kill you. Washing dishes isn’t that complicated, you know. I would love to teach you some time.”

“Why, you got a problem with cleaning?” Tadashi returned flatly, stopping and turning on her in a whirl of arrogance, frustration, and Vortex cologne.

Makoto was not at all discouraged by his intimidating glare. “I’ve got no problem with cleaning. I have an issue with being expected to do it because it would be just horrible if my superior, a man, had to be left to do it.” She crossed her arms, an accusing brow lifted, daring him to insult her further.

Tadashi clenched his jaw, eyes flashing. Hard to believe this was the same man who so gently helped her pull herself together a few minutes ago. “Men have far more important things to do than trifle in something as trivial as the work of a woman.”

Makoto blinked at him. “If it’s so trivial, why is it so important that I do it?”

Tadashi bent down to her level with a cruel smile. “Because it’s not complicated and there’s no heavy lifting required.”

Because I’m stupid and weak. Makoto thought to herself, wanting more and more to punch him in the face. “So what’s a fitting job for a man, then? Joining the military?”

Tadashi leaned back with an amused laugh and a shrug. “Absolutely.”

“Great.” Makoto nodded with an innocent smile. “Well, remember me when you join and they teach you to mend your clothes, mop your floor, iron your laundry, and make your bed, ’kay?”

Makoto’s smile widened as he gave her a glare that almost looked forced.

He checked his watch again. “Seven minutes.”

Makoto shrugged and sat down at the closest study table, opening her backpack and letting a few pens spill out with her notebook.

She dropped her bag by her feet and bent over her notebook, flipping it open and focusing on all of her research for her case.

She probably shouldn’t have been surprised when Tadashi plunked his stuff down and sat beside her, but she was. She watched him with an odd look on her face. She heard his earpiece beep softly, but he pushed a button on it and it went silent.

Even more surprisingly was, despite just having had a rigorous argument about something she was passionately angry about, she felt considerably less hostile towards him.

He interrupted her curious stare with two words: “Feel better?”

She blinked. “What?”

“I’m guessing you haven’t been open about your feelings with anyone before. Feel better?” He dropped his chin into his hand and poked one of her pens with his finger, scooting it around the table.

Makoto watched it, mildly amused both at his sudden civility and at his childish sources of amusement. “What, you’re saying you go around being a jerk as some sort of psychological trick just so the people you assault can tap into their deepest most troubling emotions?”

Tadashi gave her a very long look that kind of made her feel like she was crazy or possibly just stupid.

Oh, yeah.

Seriously, every time she got the tiniest notion that maybe Tadashi wasn’t so bad after all, he went and made her feel like an idiot again.

“No.” He told her darkly. “You’ve got problems, Makoto. You freak me out. Find a shrink. Talk to somebody. Seriously.” He pushed her pen off the table and then pointedly ignored her annoyed glare.

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