Zaphiel

“Oh my god! I’m so worried. It looks like the whole school is here and… argh! I’m getting a lot of pressure you know!” Zaphiel complained as she donned her next outfit. Yuumiko fixed her hair a bit, “What’s wrong with you, Zaph?”

They almost didn’t make it in time for the next run. Zaphiel complained before they stepped up, “It’s just that I’ve been missing out on a lot of classes lately because of the recent shows.”

Zaphiel began to walk down the aisle and did a few poses before reaching the end of the runway. A step later, she slipped and fell on her face. She quickly got up and resumed as if nothing happened. Some portions of the crowd went silent. A quick glance back and she noticed it was her schoolmates. Zaphiel began to stomp the moment she stepped of the stage. The stage director was at the top of his lungs scolding her but she just ignored him. Her face was flushed red and then the image of someone dear to her flashed to her memory.

She almost cried, walking into the dressing room. Zaphiel packed her things furiously. An emptiness crushed her heart from the stress as she walked out of the Arcade. She let no one know of her departure, not even her friend Yuumiko.

Lionel

“You done flirting yet, Kliff?” Lionel asked.

Kliff raised his brow at Lionel, “Excuse me, I am working here as a professional. There can be no room for any personal feelings.”

“The why are you chasing her around like a dog?”
“Shut up! I’m… aggressively looking for a scoop.”
“Sheesh…”

Lionel stopped taking pictures and rested on a small stool near the corner. He sighed with relief as he was still tired ever since the night before. The project he had been working on was almost complete so he pushed the envelope in hopes of finally completing it. Unfortunately, one of his neighbors traipsed in and wrecked the entire project. Lionel sat back against the wall and took a deep breath.

Damn… I just don’t now what to do anymore.” he thought, looking up at the ceiling.

For some reason, memories of his short-lived first love ran through his head. The nostalgia was almost nauseating to him. He was fed up with relationships even though he had only been in few.

Life’s complicated enough without love.” Lionel thought. “Why add to it?”

Lionel rested his eyes for only a moment and soon enough, he had fallen asleep… again.

Yuumiko

After the fashion show, Yuumiko didn’t realize that Zaphiel was already gone. “Zaphiel? Zaphiel!” she called out, “Where is she anyway?”

“He’s here…” Yuumiko remembered that man again, “Maybe I should look for him while I’m looking for Zaphiel.”

She wandered aimlessly constantly thinking about where to look for Zaphiel. Every now and then, her thoughts wandered off and remembered him. After some time, her search bore fruit when she stumbled upon Zaphiel nearby who had come back for some reason she didn’t feel like sharing. But after a moment of greeting, Zaphiel left again. Yuumiko sighed when she remembered she was looking for him, too. Her eyes opened up as she actually managed to get a glimpse of that guy.

Xianny

Xianny walked out of the building of Cover with a pad and paper at hand. She had been asked by Gentrude to look for Zaphiel at what was supposedly a fashion show.

“Which must have ended thirty minutes ago…” Xianny thought worriedly as she took a cab. Tying her long, stringy hair in a low ponytail, she bites her lower lip.

The cab reached its stop and true enough the fashion show at Kanagawa Arcade is over. People were leaving and only a few models are left inside. She sees this familar-looking face inside flirting with all the models like some abusive, dirty old perv.

“Kliff…. that PR guy from the tour department… he’s supposed to be in-charge of the location of ramp shows Cover would be hosting.. heard he has some connections with the admin that’s why he got the job.. what’s he doing here?” Xianny thought. It was only natural for Xianny to know almost everyone in the Cover office. It was her job, after all, to know and be everyone’s doormat.

She pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose and proceeded. Along the way, she sees a man slumped on a wall, sleeping. She rolled her eyes. Really, are all the men bums and pervs nowadays? She shook her head.

She didn’t care really. All she cares about is to please her superiors and probably rise up a little from her internship job.

“Oh… Yuumiko chan!!!!” Xianny waved. Yuumiko was her model friend. They met when she was just starting in Cover. They don’t know each other that well but they know each other well enough to have coffee together.

“Xianny!!! What’re you doing here?” Yuumiko’s face suddenly brightened up.

“I’m looking for Zaphiel… you know her right? The fashion designer and semi-model?” Xianny asked. Yuumiko nodded but explained that Zaphiel already left.

“Dratz… I knew it.. oh well…” Xianny sighed. Suddenly, Kliff came from behind them and put an arm around Yuumiko’s shoulders.

“Hey!! You’re Yuumiko right? I’m Kliff…” he flashed his million-dollar-smile. Yuumiko grinned uneasily. “Err…. hi..” she greeted sheepishly.

“I’ll be going now Yuumiko okay? Bye!” Xianny waved and turned her back on them.

“Hey, albino! Why don’t you buy some tanning lotion or just spend a little more time under the sun!!?” Kliff guffawed. Xianny stopped and clenched her fists angrily.

“Hey dude… I think that’s a bit uncalled for, don’t you think?”

The guy who was sleeping earlier was now standing behind Kliff and Yuumiko.

Lionel

“You shouldn’t treat ladies that way. Besides, what happened to your flirting?” Lionel asked groggily. He then took hold of Xianny’s hand to calm it down then let go. Xianny blushed slightly at his motion.

“Whoa! Finally awake, are we?” Kliff asked mockingly.
Lionel waved his hand dismissively, “Shut up. Don’t we have work to do?”
“What work? The show’s done, you sloth. You slept through the whole thing.”
“Wha–?! You didn’t wake me?! ”
Kliff looked away and started to whistle, “I had uhm… more pressing matters to attend to.”

Lionel knew that this meant one thing: Kliff WAS flirting the whole time. Now without any coverage whatsoever, this meant no pay. Another opportunity down the drain to earn some very needed money. This was going to be another hard month and Lionel’s financial situation wasn’t getting any better. He needed to earn money and soon, but this was another wasted chance.

“Don’t feel so glum, I’ll just introduce you to these two and maybe your social circle just might expand a little.” Kliff was mocking him, and he knew it. Lionel looked at them and he found them vaguely familiar.

Lionel thought deeply for a moment trying to remember then suddenly,
“I remember now! That pale girl and that model were both at the office this morning!”

Kliff formally introduced Xianny and Yuumiko to Lionel, mentioning that both of them studied at New Reed University. Yuumiko felt rather uneasy trying to converse with Lionel since he was rather unreceptive. Xianny simply nodded an agreement to Yuumiko as she usually does as part of her ‘doormat’ habit.

Kliff waved his car keys boastfully, “Who wants to ride with me back to the office?”

The sheer silence he received was evident and the only thing missing to complete the scene was a tumbleweed. Lionel pulled out his camera once more for a final picture since he still had one shot left for that roll of film. Kliff positioned himself to Yuumiko’s left while Xianny was on Yuumiko’s right. After posing, Lionel set his camera on auto-shot and stood between Yuumiko and Xianny. After the photo, Kliff left and Lionel got ready to leave for NRU to develop what few shots he had and to attend his class.

“Are you heading to school?” Yuumiko asked Lionel quaintly.
Lionel was a bit puzzled. “Yeah… ”
“Can I come along?”
“I don’t mind, but I’m commuting though.”
“It’s ok… ” Yuumiko answered with a brief smile.

Xianny also decided to tag along since she also had classes to attend to. Besides, it was best not to report so soon to Gentrude. Shortly after, they left together for NRU taking the back exit as it was closer to the train station.
Corey

“Manager, I’m here!!” Corey shouted as he stepped into the opened rental shop. Manager Oneda smiled in amusement then shouted back, “Good! That’s what I like in your attitude, son. You’re always on time!!”

Corey dashed to the staff room to change into his uniform. The ever enthusiastic manager shouted to all his employees, “Yosh! Now, to start the shop!”

In unison, the staff replied, “…with pleasure!”

“Sir!!! Is she coming today?!” Corey asked Manager Oneda
“Her?! Oh, you mean–”
“Yeah, her! Miss-”
The chime placed at the shop door rung loud. Corey ran towards the counter to greet the customer, “Ah! Good morning ma’am!! Welcome to…huh?!”

The girl who walked in took off her glasses, “Hello, Rivera-sempai!”

“Ack!! Is that…YOU?! Jeane!?” Corey, puzzled by her looks. Jeane just smiled, “It’s like you haven’t seen me in quite a while. I haven’t been gone that long, have I?”

Corey looked towards the staff room, “Yeah… Well, I haven’t seen you in New Reed. You’re studying at the New Reed High, aren’t you? Wait, gotta call your dad.” Corey dashed to the manager’s office.

“Why didn’t you tell me that you were coming today?” Asked Manager Oneda.

“I know you guys are busy. That’s why I didn’t tell you!” Jeane pouted and stuck her tongue out, “Besides, I thought it would be fun to see you guys surprised.”

Jeane was led to Manager Oneda’s office while Corey took the helm of the counter again. The small amount of staff members were kept busy with the sudden burst of customers. Corey strolled around the shop to monitor the units and saw one unit browsing a porn site.

“Hey! Number five!” Corey shouted as was his usual custom, “No porn sites!”

“Is that how you treat a paying customer, Corey?”
“What?! Ah! Urumizawa!!! What are you doing here?!”
“Can’t your dear neighbor come over and surf the web?”
“No, but that’s not the-”

“Oh! Look at this!” Urumizawa opened up a window, “Whaddaya think?”

Corey’s jaw dropped, “Golly banana, those’re big! Ack! Wait! Close that window!”

Urumizawa did so then asked Corey if he was free to attend a fashion show later that evening with some of their friends. At the mention that there would be lots of models there, Corey eventually took his offer.

“I guess I could come along after work. Anyway Urumizawa, you should–”

“Hey! Just call me Makoto, got that? We’re friends, aren’t we?”

“Okay, okay. Now close that porn site.”

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