Chapter 3: Collision
Janne casually lifted the spoon and put it in his mouth. The noise of the cafeteria was tolerable enough for him to observe what was around him. At the nearby table, a group of students were enjoying their meal while talking about their integration techniques; while on the other table, a duo was flexing their newly created robot.
Everything around him seemed to have interactions with the people they were with, except for Janne. He stared at Candance for a second, and then into her lunch and then back to the bespectacled curly-haired girl. She didn’t seem to notice Janne’s stares. She was busy chopping her Beef Tapa without even eating a single bite ever since they sat down.
“Are you okay?” Janne asked. Cadence flinched and looked straight at Janne. She blinked her dark brown eyes and quickly turned away. She lifted her glasses.
“I..um..” she stuttered. Janne’s eyebrows twitched. “This girl is acting differently now compared to the girl I met in the pub.” he thought.
“What is it?” he asked. Janne’s eyes watched closely as Cadence gently gripped her spoon and fork. The girl didn’t even bother to look at him.
“What do you mean?” Cadence asked with a sigh. Janne wrapped his fingers on his glass of water and sipped a little bit from it then licked his lips, “You’re acting weird.”
“I am not.” Cadence quickly replied, frowning. Janne didn’t look convinced and smirked.
“Is this about territories?” he asked. Cadence looked puzzled and unconsciously jerked her head towards Janne, only to be welcomed by a smug face.
“I don’t really get what you mean by that.” Cadence said.
“Well,” Janne said and casually reached for his food, “When we met at the pub, you were such a...free soul. You get what I mean?”
“Free soul, huh?” Cadence said with a bitter smile and gulped her water, “And?”
Janne furrowed his eyebrows upon Cadence’s tone.
“And, the way you are acting right now is the exact opposite. Is it because we’re in University now and not in a pub?” Janne said without even holding back his words. Cadence’s dark brown eyes stared at him in awe.
“So you’re saying that the pub is my territory?” Cadence asked that earned her a nod from Janne.
“And you’re implying that I am a party girl who gets uncomfortable when it comes to academe shit?” Cadence added, squinting her eyes as if she looked offended. Janne shook his head.
“Well, I didn’t say that.” Janne said, “Your words, not mine.”
Cadence sighed, “Look, smart dude. I was not expecting this at all okay. I didn’t think we would ever meet again. I was not prepared for it.” Cadence said. Janne took the last bite of his peach mango pie.
“It already happened. Do you really need to be prepared for everything?” Janne countered. Cadence rolled her eyes.
“You don’t understand. I took advantage of the fact that I won’t see you again so I thought, ‘yeah, let’s make it an interesting night.’, only to see you again and that made me feel so....awkward.” Cadence explained.
Janne pointed out her food, “Well, don’t be. Now, pay attention to your food.” he said.
Cadence shook her head slightly but still complied with Janne’s statement. She ate her beef tapa and her stomach instantly growled. She quickly turned to Janne who was staring at his tablet screen at the moment. She released a sigh of relief when the guy didn’t seem to hear it.
“That’s what you get for feeling so awkward around me.” Janne said without even looking at her. Cadence lifted her glasses while her eyebrows furrowed.
“Why did you even invite me to lunch?” she asked. Janne shrugged.
“Same reason you asked me out that night.” Janne replied with an evil smirk. Cadence rolled her eyes and put the spoon into her mouth.
“This guy knows the right shit to rebut, I hate it.” , Cadence thought.
Cadence chose to shut up. The conversation was draining her minute by minute and now, she only desired to finish her lunch at peace; except that peace was not on her side.
“Face down in the dirt
She said “This doesn’t hurt!”
She said “I finally had enough!”
Her phone started to ring and she almost choked the food inside her mouth. Cadence clicked her tongue and fished out the phone out of her backpack. She mentally scolded herself for not muting her phone on the way but she was also thankful that it didn’t ring during her first class. She looked at the phone screen.
Cadence put down her phone at the table and continued to eat. She had put it in a vibrate mode. Janne noticed the gesture and stared at her.
“You’re not going to answer it?” Janne asked. Cadence ate her food.
“Nope.” she replied, emphasizing the p sound. Janne formed an “Oh” with his mouth. Minutes later, a girl with long black hair, hazel brown eyes and white milky skin sat beside Candace. She wore the uniform for college, a plain blouse with the University’s logo at the left part of the chest tucked in a black pencil skirt and tights. Black tights. She crossed her legs as she leaned closer to Candace’s side. The latter simply pulled back.
“Why weren’t you answering my call?” the new girl said. Candance glimpsed at Janne.
“I am eating, Sofia.” Cadence replied. Sofia rolled her eyes and glared at Janne.
“Yeah, and you are eating with another girl. How dare you.” Sofia said as she threw dagger looks towards Janne. Cadence shook her head.
“Sofia, Janne is not a girl. He’s a dude.” Cadence said. Sofia blinked and turned her head to Candence.
“Say what?” she said, “But he looks like a girl!” Sofia whispered.
“I heard that.” Janne said. Cadence looked at them both and then cleared her throat.
“Okay,” she said, “Sofia, I appreciate your effort but please, accept the fact that we’re already done.”
Janne stopped himself from twitching his eyebrows and smirking upon hearing Cadence’s statement. He pretended to play with his tablet but he was actually listening to an ex-couples argument. Sofia slightly tapped the table.
“No! I cannot accept that. Our relationship might work, Candace. Just give me a chance.” Sofia pleaded. Janne blinked and stopped himself from turning his head in their direction so that he could see the full act.
“Is this how girls break up with their girlfriends?“, he thought, completely creeped out, yet slightly intrigued at the same time.
“Sofia, no. Ludus is all I can offer.” Cadence’s tone was firm. From Janne’s perspective, she was actually dead serious and the term she just emphasized had Sofia’s tongue numb.
“But Cade...” Sofia ran out of words. The name Cade rang a bell in Janne’s head. He closed his eyes for a second and a thought came rushing in. He put down his tablet and stared at Candace, a girl who just successfully shooed her ex-lover.
“I’m sorry about that. We were not in a relationship at all. I was just...flirting with her, that’s all.” Cadence said and finished her meal. Janne shook his head as a response.
“No. It’s fine.” he said, eyeing Cadence, “Your nickname is Cade?” he asked. Cadence nodded, “Yes. Why?”
“So you are---” Janne was cut off when he felt someone sat beside him. Cadence smiled, “Hi, Mr. Yoso.”
The guy with a medium-length black hair, big glasses, and thin body frame waved at Cadence. Janne’s eyes stared daggers at his advisor as he smirked at him.
“This is not happening. Please tell me he did not set me up.”, he thought.
“Well, Janne, I see you and Cade already met each other.” His advisor said. Cadence slightly tilted her head as if she didn’t know what Mr. Yoso was pertaining to but Janne, on the other hand, was squinting his eyes.
“You little...” he said, “Everything went according to your plan.” Janne hissed. Mr. Yoso gave him a “Well, at least something good came out of it,” look.
“What are you guys talking about?” Cadence asked. Mr. Yoso looked at her and smiled.
“Remember the physicist I was talking about? The one you were going to work with in that thesis? That was actually Janne. Janne Asriel Milton. And Janne?” Mr. Yoso said and looked at Janne, “This is Cadence Madeline Ola.”
Cadence expression looked like she was about to say something then stopped herself midway and said, “Oh. Okay.”
“Now, your next class will be starting soon. See you at the laboratory after class so we can talk about the matter at hand, okay?” Mr. Yoso said and waved goodbye. Janne and Cadence didn’t mutter a single word upon Mr. Yoso’s departure. It was as if the atmosphere between them became more awkward than before.
“Such a small world.” Janne muttered. Cadence agreed with a nod.
“And now we’re going to work together.” Cadence said and looked at Janne, “Is that okay with you?”
Janne hesitated to answer and Cadence instantly noticed it. She cleared her throat.
“Well, I can talk to Mr. Yoso about this. I can say that I don’t want to be part of the lab--”
“No, no, no.” Janne hastily replied, “It’s fine.”
Janne didn’t know what to say next. Cadence sighed.
“Before we enter our next class, perhaps, we should use this time to get to know each other.” Cadence suggested. She blinked, “Don’t get this wrong, okay? I just don’t want to work with someone I barely know.”
“Same here.” Janne replied. Cadence leaned at the table with her elbows and clasped her hands across her chest, “So, first question: what was your course in college?” she asked.
“BS Applied Physics,” Janne replied, “What about you?”
“BS Electronics Engineering. Why did you take Applied Physics?” Cadence asked. Janne smirked, “Why not?”
Cadence rolled her eyes but she was smiling, “Answer the question, smart dude.”
“Well, my first choice was Mechanical Engineering but I didn’t make the cut for that program in UPD. Instead, I entered Applied Physics in UPLB because technically, that was my second choice.” Janne casually said. Cadence’s dark brown eyes widened and her mouth was slightly open in astonishment.
“Oh...my...gosh. So you got your degree at the University of the Philippines? That’s awesome.” Cadence said. Janne half-smiled, “Um, thanks?”
“So how was Applied Physics? Were you um, happy upon taking it even if it was your second choice?” Cadence asked.
“I guess. I was able to do some amazing stuff with it. Of course, studying it was like entering hell and it burned all my sanity, so yeah 10/10 would never do that again.” Janne said. Cadence nodded a few times, “So computation physics didn’t work out for you? Is that why you took Instrumentation as a major?”
“Yes. I’m actually impressed that you know that.” Janne said. Cadence giggled, “Well, Mr. Yoso talks about you a lot.”
“My turn. Why did you take Electronics Engineering?” Janne asked. Cadence leaned back on her chair and crossed her arms. She gestured at Janne.
“Unlike you, I was not able to pass the UPCAT in both UPD and UPLB. If anything, we could have been classmates.” Cadence said. Janne leaned on his elbow and settled his chin on his palm.
“So your first choice in UP was Applied Physics?” Janne asked. Cadence sighed, “Well yes, but actually no. It was my second choice but I was really rooting to make the cut for it. I tried to get a reconsideration in UPLB but I was not really fascinated in Agriculture so I didn’t take the chance.”
“Where did you study your degree then?” Janne asked.
“Here’s the catch. My old self desired a course where in general, I can do physics and engineering, and my interest in robotics. Fortunately, there was a program that can do all of that and it was Mechatronics Engineering. That time, it was only offered in Batangas State University where I can study for free.” Cadence said.
Janne frowned, “Wait up, you said your degree was Electronics Engineering?”
“Well, yes. I took Mechatronics Engineering in my first year but my parents didn’t like it because it doesn’t have a license--”
“Applied Physics doesn’t have a license though.” Janne butted in.
“Yeah, I know. But as I said, my parents didn’t like non-license courses so they insisted that I shift to my second choice in BSU.” Cadence said.
“And that was Electronics Engineering?” Janne asked. Cadence nodded, “Yup.”
“You could’ve taken a driver’s license though and spared yourself the hassle of studying for four years haha.” Janne jested as Cadence smiled and lightly laughed.
“Okay,” Janne said, “There was something bothering me though.”
“What is it?” Cadence asked, perplexed.
“When we first met, my first impression of you was that you were musically inclined, so I thought your career was something along those lines. Never have I thought that you are an engineer. Why did you not pursue the former?” Janne asked. Cadence flashed a bitter smile and looked down. Janne noticed how Cadence suddenly fidgeted with her hands. He barely noticed the red marks in her palms.
“Are those..scars?” , he thought.
“Well, actually, I would love to pursue a career in that field. I wanted to study film because that was a combination of all the things that I can do. Playing music, writing novels, and directing, but my parents didn’t approve of it. They told me that those things are just my hobbies.” Cadence said.
“Well, your parents must have their reasons.” Janne commented. Cadence flashed a half smile, “Yeah.”
“And I think, they’re pretty much obsessed with licensed courses. I wonder why.” Janne said that earned him a laugh from Cadence’s mouth, “But not gonna lie, I think you’ll excel at the things you are passionate about.” Janne added.
“I am not great at it, okay. In fact, I am mediocre with all that, even in engineering up until now.” Cadence said, “Well, so much for that. I’m studying for my master’s degree. ” Cadence said. Janne tapped the table with his fingers. The thought of the scars in Cadence’s palms bothered him. However, he thought that he was not in the right position to ask anything yet.
“Do you still think about it? I mean, you have the money now to pursue film?” Janne suggested. Cadence stared at him for seconds and then her eyeballs went into another direction. She shrugged and looked at him again.
“Yes, of course. Maybe in the future, I will.” Cadence said, smiling. Janne looked at her for a couple of seconds, struck by the genuineness of that smile. He quickly blinked and simply looked away.
“What the heck are you looking at?” , he thought.
“I think we should go. Our next class will be starting in a few minutes.” Janne said and started to wrap everything up. Cadence nodded in agreement and did the same thing.
“It was nice talking with you.” Cadence said as she threw her backpack on her shoulder.
“Yeah, same here.” Janne replied, looking straight into her dark brown eyes, “Let’s go?” Janne asked and pointed out the exit. Cadence giggled, “Yeah.”
They both walked towards the exit, “I look forward to getting to know you more, smart dude.” Cadence said and winked.
“Flirt.” Janne teased. Cadence giggled, “Get used to it, Janne.”