“She showed my ex-girlfriend my baby pictures.” Alan’s hair was completely different from the photo Advisor 223 sent me. It was neatly cropped in the photo, but the real Alan’s hair was long and covered part of his face. And even the colour is a different shade of red.
“That must’ve been sweet.”
“Sweet?! Give me a break! That girl freaking laughed for a whole half hour. You know what’s worse?”
“What could possibly be worse than that?”
“That bitch told the girl that we can’t have sex because she was under 18 yet. And if she ever got pregnant, there was no way I would marry her because it’s a disgrace to the family.”
“What?” The blonde guy choked. “What kind of logic is that?”
“So of course, she dumped me right away.”
“Gee, your sister can really be a bitch!”
“And you know what else that bitch did?”
“She changed my curfew to 9:00, every freakin’ day! Even kids don’t have curfews like that! And if I break it, then I get no food for the next day and no allowance for the week.”
“Man, that must be painful! What about parties?”
“Yeah, that’s exactly why I moved out.” Alan grinned.
“Yeah. I’m living with my mother now. And him.” Alan pointed at the Professor Halls standing at the podium.
“But I thought you hated them.”
“Yeah, but not as much as my bitch sister. At least I can negotiate with them.”
“So what’s the deal now?”
“I just have to show up for classes everyday, and buy him lunch.”
“No more curfews?”
“They are too sophisticated for that.” Alan chuckled.
“I’m curious. How do you get along with such a nerdy guy?”
“Well, I don’t. But it’s fine cause we don’t talk. He only shows his face at dinner and my mother does all the talking. And when I get sick of listening, I leave.”
“Hahaha! That’s sounds like my Alan.” They gave each a high five.
“Yeah! I finally got my life back. How was your summer vacay?”
“It was so boring! We stayed at my father’s castle near Lyon. And took the occasional trip to Italy.”
“France and Italy? It would be my dream to spend a summer there!”
“Yeah, except for when you have two annoying little sisters pestering you all day. They went to Lyon for shopping everyday! Every freakin’ day! Can you believe it!”
“Right, Denise and Danielle. Haha. They are both teenagers now, right? You can’t expect much from girls at that age. All they care about is clothes and makeup. My bitch sister still hasn’t grown out of that stage yet. Ach. And the disgusting perfume.”
“Yeah, women! My mother hasn’t grown out of that phase either. They always dragged me to shops so they could get my advice.”
“Why didn’t you make excuses to stay home?”
“Staying home meant either burying my head in books or having a staring contest with the servants. At least the City had some life.”
“Wow, Evan, your life is so f*@% tough!” Alan laughed. His grumpy face actually looked handsome when he laughed.
“Well, not as bad as yours, Alain.” Evan addressed Alan by his French name. My device informed me that their mothers were second cousins who grew up in the countryside of France. Both married extraordinarily wealthy men and have enjoyed extravagant lifestyles ever since. Alan’s mother married a wealthy businessman from Hong Kong, and Evan’s mother married a French politician with aristocrat bloodline. They somehow stayed in touch all these years and decided to send their sons to the same University in Japan.
As for Professor Halls, he is clearly not Chinese, and most certainly not the wealthy businessman Alan’s mother married. After Alan’s mother found out that her husband, Edward Situ, was not a simple businessman, but actually the head of a prestigious gang in Hong Kong, she did everything she could to escape with her two children. Sadly, the wit of a Frenchwoman from the countryside is no match for an Asian gang leader. But luckily in her case, the gangster boss was truly in love with her. He agreed to let her off the marriage with a small fortune in exchange for her two lovely children. Afterall, mixed children were seen as the perfection of beauty in the East Asian continent.
Alan’s mother, desperate to free herself, agreed to all the terms of the mob boss. She was given permission to visit her children at any time with all expenses paid. But soon, she realized that single life was not suited for a lady like herself, so she found herself another beau. Partly to anger the mob boss and partly to sooth her loneliness. Now, the story of how she met and married a man almost 10 years her senior who has absolutely no charm and looks still remains a mystery. Yet another task added to my mission.
Family dynamics has always been a difficult subject for me to grasp during training. Sometimes, I wondered what it’s like to have a father, or mother, or siblings. Are they just people you return to after a long day of work, or is there a special bond that actually hold these people together?
I sent a recording of their conversation to Advisor 223 towards the end of class and took off early to catch Lori.
“Let’s go to the Engineering Library for our meeting!” Jody led the group outside with enthusiasm.
“Lori, which program are you in?” Shane walked next to Lori. Why did he ask such an obvious question?
“Bioengineering,” Lori answered.
“That’s so cool, me too!” Shane smiled. “Do you know what you’re going to specialize in?”
“Hmm, not yet. I want to see what’s available first.”
“I know what I want to specialize in!” Jody answered. “So does Susan! We are going to specialize in pharmaceutical and vaccines. It’s apparently the best option for getting a good paying job.”
“Really? Maybe I’ll do that too!” Shane turned to Lori. “Lori, maybe you could consider it too, that way we’ll all be in the same classes.”
“That’s a good idea, Shane!” Jody answered. “I think Susan would be happy about that.”
“Jody, you’re making me nervous!” Susan pushed Jody on the arm.
“What’s wrong, Susan?” Shane asked.
“Oh, nothing. I just wish we knew more people in our class.” Susan suddenly changed the topic. “You know, I really envy those people who have friends here from high school. I’m the only one here from my high school, and so is Jody. Do you guys know anyone here from high school?”
“Not a single soul.” Shane admitted. “Most of my high school classmates were not ambitious at all.”
“What about you Lori?”
“Not in the engineering program.” Lori thought for a moment. “There’s one guy from my high school. I think he’s studying economics.”
“You’re so brave, Lori!” Shane looked at Lori in the eye. “I was dead scared coming here because I didn’t know anyone.”
“Haha. I’m not really brave. I just wanted to get started on a good future, and Felix Martin has a good reputation.” Lori answered.
“What’s there to be afraid of?” Jody asked. “Everything is so exciting and new here! So many smart and lovely people, a beautiful campus, and nice gyms and pools. I’ve hardly had any time to study.”
“Not everyone’s athletic like you, Jody,” Susan turned to her friend. “All I care about is to get reasonable grades. And find a boyfriend, if possible.”
The four of them walked across a small patch of green grass and entered into an old building. The library was on the second floor, accessible only by stairs. This is one of the smaller libraries in the University, but it has a lot of books on engineering which aren’t available in other libraries. On the main floor of the building, there were 5 round tables for studying.
“Is here ok?” Jody picked the table that was the furthest away from the entrance and dropped her backpack on the floor.
“Sure,” Shane answered and sat down across from her. Lori and Susan sat down on opposite sides of each other, between Shane and Jody.
I sat down in a small sofa in the corner of the room next to their table and tuned into their conversation with my device.
“So.” Jody cleared her throat. “Let’s get to know each other a little better. Let’s each share one thing that each of us like and dislike.”
“Do we have to do this?” Susan frowned.
“I learned from my summer internship job that icebreakers are a good way to start business meetings.”
“Icebreaker? But we know each other already,” Susan mumbled.
“Not well enough,” Jody answered with confidence. “In order for employees to work well together, companies have come up with a lot of strategies to help them to get to know each other. I’ll start.” She placed her arms on the table and smiled. “My name is Jody. I went to Winston Churchill High School and graduated with honours. I love clear blue skies with lots of sunshine and hate rain, because it’s depressing.” She tapped Susan on the shoulder. “You’re next, we’ll go around the table.”
“I’m Susan, as you all know.” Susan said in a low voice and stared at the table. “I don’t know what else to say.”
“Name one thing you like and one thing you don’t like,” Jody prompted.
“I don’t know. I really can’t think of anything.” Susan blushed.
“Then tell us one thing you like to do then.”
“I like to go shopping and hang out with friends.” Susan blushed.
“Hi, my name is Shane, as you also know.” Shane stared at the table. “Um, my grades were just good enough to make it to this school. My goal in life is to get a good job after graduation.” He paused for a moment to think. “Um, I really like my mom’s cooking and I hate it when my little brother makes fun of me.”
The girls laughed. I found his introduction rather immature. He lives on his mother’s cooking and gets bothered by a boy’s childish remarks. Not exactly someone I’d want to be friends with.
“Hey Lori, it’s your turn.” Jody snapped her fingers in front of Lori’s face.
“Oh, right.” Lori was staring into space. “My name is Lori. I went to an international high school and really liked the sciences. I like going for long walks in nature and I’m not a big fan of technology.”
“You don’t like technology!” Shane exclaimed. “Everything today is about technology though. And it makes our lives so much better.”
“Well, I’m not that good with computers.” Lori answered.
“Oh, you’ll definitely get better with that!” Jody asked. “Engineering is all about technology. We’re going to develop the latest and most amazing technology for the future!”
“Yeah, it’s exciting!” Shane added.
“I guess I’ll learn to like it.” Lori forced a smiled.
“No, I think you’ll learn to love it!” Jody answered. “Once you see how wonderful it is, especially in the biomed industry, you’ll love it!”
“I guess so.” Lori didn’t sound convinced.
“Of course, you will!” Shane added. “I agree with Jody, once you see how wonderful it is, you’ll fall in love with it.”
“Shane, you make it sound like technology is going be her boyfriend or something.” Susan chuckled.
“Well, that’s not what I meant.” Shane scratched his head. “I just meant that she’s going to like it because it’s so useful and good…”
“Hey guys, how about we start on the assignment now.” Jody announced.