Ring-ring-ring, went the bells.

"Excuse me, sir?"

I looked up from my copy of +Anima in time to see the doors close. Standing in front of them was an unfamiliar face: a young man with beige hair and ruby red eyes. He was wearing a grey high school student uniform, as well as an anxious look on his face.

I pushed my glasses up. "Are you lost?" I asked.

The young man looked surprised. "Yes, actually," he confirmed. "How did you know?"

"Well, your expression of anxiety kind of gave it away," I said, closing my book as I stood up. "Plus, you don't look familiar. Have you moved here recently, by any chance?"

The student was taken aback. "Y-Yes, I have."

"I see," I said as I got out from behind the counter, walked up to him, and held out my hand. "In that case, welcome to the neighborhood. I'm Shane. Nice to meet you."

The student hesitated slightly before grasping my hand in return. Kid's got a solid grip, I thought as we shook hands.

"Likewise, sir," he replied. "My name is Kamui."

I nodded. "So, Kamui, what was it that you need help with?"

The young man's ruby eyes widened. "Ah, that's right! I was on my way to school when I…well, took a wrong turn somewhere."

"Which school are you going to?" I asked.

"Canitia Senior High. You wouldn't happen to know where that is, would you?"

He pronounced "Canitia" as "ca-NI-tee-ah".

Now my eyes lit up.

"Ah, that school!" I said, clapping my hands together. "I remember. And it's actually very close to here."

"R-Really?!"

I nodded. "Just turn right from here, head two blocks down the street, and you'll see it."

"Ah, okay…" Kamui looked deeply relieved. "Thank you, Mister Shane!"

I chuckled. "Just Shane is fine, Kamui. I don't do formalities that much. Oh, that reminds me—before you go…"

I headed over to the wooden bookshelves. "Now, where did I put that…no, this isn't it—ah-hah! Here we go."

Seconds later, Kamui soon found himself holding a copy of Shakespeare: The Complete Anthology, edited by one J. Siegmeyer. "Y-You're giving this to me?!"

"No, I'm loaning it to you," I corrected. "I know you'll need it—especially if Professor Frederick still teaches English. Just make sure you take care of it until you get a chance to return it, okay? That's a rare first edition."

"O-Okay, sir," Kamui said, somewhat overwhelmed. "Thank you again!"

"No problem. Just get to school on time, you hear?"


About fifteen minutes after I saw the student off, Irene came back with the groceries.

The song walt by Yoko Kanno started playing softly on the sound system.

"Hey, Shane," she said as she got to her part of the shop, setting the bags down.

"Hey, 'Rene," I greeted, walking over to help.

"Y'know, I saw a very strange person today," she noted.

"Strange? In what way?" I was dealing with the coffee bags here.

Irene opened up a cabinet and started resupplying the spices. "Well, this beige-haired high school student was running as fast as he could to Canitia High. Annnd he was holding a very familiar book edited by a certain Siegmeyer."

"Mm-hmm. So, he made it to his school in time?" I asked as I pushed in a bag of French Vanilla coffee.

"Yeah, the bell rang just before I got here, actually."

"Ah, good."

She closed the cabinet and started filling the refrigerator. "So," she started. "Are you sure that kid'll return that book?"

"He only asked for directions; the town's relatively new to him. I thought he could use a little more help along with that. Plus, you know Frederick's curriculum."

"Ah, the 'Wariest of Canitia High'. 'Beware his smile, for the hells of education will always await you'," she remembered. "Fair enough. Even if it wasn't that bad."

"True. Besides, even if he forgets, I…" I paused here, a little embarrassed. "…may have already hidden 50 business cards in the book. Just in case."

"Dammit, Shane," she chuckled.