It’s been a tough week. After what had transpired that day, we ended up getting detained in the Intelligence Department’s isolation chambers, except for Kana. Hayate’s summons alerted the Technology and Intelligence Departments of our whereabouts and they immediately dispatched rescue units since we did not log anything in our journal that day. The directors, as well as Sir Eiichi, were furious because of our actions, especially since it involved the subduing of an Elite and the demise of a humdrum. ‘Let’s see if this will work.’ My eyes drifted to the wall when I heard Hayate’s inner voice. ‘Hayate? Wait. How?’ I asked. As far as I know, isolation chambers have similar structures to the special rooms in the Medical department, thus, making them impenetrable by inner voices and brain waves. ‘I saw the guards talking to an administrator. It seems like they have already deactivated the blockers and filters in our rooms,’ he replied. I guess his sixth sense could still function here. ‘Oh. I can hear the both of you.’ This time, it was Hiroshi. Naghintay ako kung maririnig ko rin si Kana pero walang nangyari. I guess she was being handled by the President and the Council since her identity as a Hansen clan member was revealed that night. Several minutes passed and the door this room suddenly came into view. It disappeared the moment I stepped into this place a week ago and seeing it again made me feel hopeful . . . or not. I flinched when I saw Sir Eiichi walking toward me with a stern expression. As the one handling for the Fielding course, he would also share responsibility and would be reprimanded by the administrators. “Your group has achieved something crucial and that will surely boost your grade and standing but I am very disappointed in your action as the leader,” he said and my heart sank upon hearing those words from him. ‘It’s not her fault.’ Nagulat naman ako nang marinig ko ang boses ni Hayate. ‘It’s not just the leader’s fault. We all decided to help our teammate because that’s the right thing to do.’ ‘Is carrying out a mission that could jeopardize our network of intel and endanger the lives of the humdrums the right thing to do? I expected more from you, Hayate. And you, Hiroshi, do you want to tarnish the names of your mother and grandfather? Do you think just because you are from a family of genius, you can do everything you want even if your own department tells you not to? I had high expectations from the three of you but you showed me that you still couldn’t be trusted with this kind of operation.’ The three of us remained silent. Everything that we say would just sound like an excuse. He was right. We did the right thing in a wrong way. ‘I’ll see the three of you in my office tomorrow,’ he mentioned as he turned away. ‘For now, go to the President’s office. They are waiting for you.’ *** Sir Eiichi's words repeatedly echoed inside my head. I knew we should be worried about the consequences of our actions but the guilt overpowered my fear. We had disappointed a lot of people who expected a lot from us and that was more disheartening than the punishments we would receive. Tahimik kaming naglakad papunta sa Office of the President. Sir Hideo would always be lenient to us but this time, it would surely be different. Pabigat naman nang pabigat ang mga hakbang ko habang palapit kami sa office ni Sir Hideo. I could feel the pressure from the presence of several people and it felt like we were entering a lion’s den. Kumatok si Hayate sa pinto ng office niya at saka niya dahan-dahang binuksan. Sir Hideo came into view, his intense gaze looking right through us. But what surprised me was Kana who was sitting on the couch in front of him. “It’s been a while,” he commented. Even though we were close to him when we were still toddlers, his position as the President of the school and the leader of the tribe put him on a higher ground and made him distant and unreachable. Tumabi naman agada ko kay Kana at umupo sa harapan namin sina Hayate at Hiroshi. On the other hand, Sir Hideo sat on the chair between the couches, facing the four of us. “The Council has decided to let Sir Eiichi determine your fate,” he said, breaking the suffocating silence. “The benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and he said it will be unfair if one of the best teams he has handled will be punished for doing something they know they are capable of.” Nagkatinginan kami ni Hayate nang marinig namin ‘yon. Kanina lang, halos hindi na maipinta ang mukha ni Sir Eiichi dahil sa galit niya sa amin. I didn’t know he was supporting our backs when he was talking to the Council and that made me feel grateful and guilty at the same time. Sir Hideo told us the gist of the meeting between the professors and the Council. Pagkatapos no’n ay umalis na rin kami sa office niya pero bago pa kami makalabas ay may inabot siyang notebook. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a journal. “We found that in Ariel Andrada’s hideout,” he remarked. “Maybe you’ll understand his reasons once you read it,” dagdag niya habang nakatingin kay Kana. Paglabas namin mula sa office niya ay dumiretso kami sa dorm. And that night, we learned about Ariel’s tragic life. *** “Still awake?” I asked while staring at the ceiling. “Yeah. Can’t sleep,” Kana replied. Ilang oras pa lang ang nakakaraan nang mabasa namin ang iniwang journal ni Ariel. Kana finally learned about what happened before and after the attack on her village and I’m sure that would keep her awake all night. Ariel was an outstanding chemical engineer and was doing great in an industrial company but he was suddenly scouted by an agent who wanted to know if he wanted to try explosives engineering. He was offered a huge amount of money and his own laboratory and that made him apprehensive. He declined but got curious in that field so he tried formulating and creating different kinds of explosives, and that made them more desperate for him. Takeshi threatened him by using his family so he had no choice but to listen to their demands. He worked for them and provided them weapons. I could still remember the words he had written when they told him where and when they used his explosives. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. To save three people, I killed a hundred. I feel disgusted with myself yet I still feel a little relieved that my family is safe. Maybe I am turning into a monster. Like those green-eyed criminals. I don’t know what to do anymore. I should’ve killed myself the moment they have found me. Now I can’t even decide for my life. Please, somebody, please end my misery. My heart felt heavy. I couldn’t even imagine how disturbing and painful it must be for him to be involved in our world. But what made me sad and mad was when he lost his family one by one. First, his wife, when he didn’t listen to their demands and talked back to his guard; second, his eldest son, when he tried to make the explosives kill the bomber instead; and lastly, his youngest daughter, when he tried to hurt himself. “J, you’re too loud,” Kana suddenly complained. “Sor—” I abruptly stopped when I saw the tears in her eyes. I shifted my gaze to the ceiling and breathed deeply. She must be feeling guilty for what she had said to him and how she had treated him before. Ariel escaped from them after losing everything and lived in vengeance, just like Kana. He had planned his attack for a long time to get back at his enemies. I remembered the look of resignation and tranquility on his face before he passed away because he finally got what he wanted. He finally got his revenge. “He’s with his family now,” I softly said. She stayed silent and my eyes were starting to well up, too. They both lost their loved ones in cruel ways and it was frustrating that I couldn’t even do anything to make her feel better. “Don’t worry too much,” she said while wiping off the tears on her eyes and face. “I will be okay.” “You will,” I remarked. That night, Kana finally let her heart and mind sleep in peace. *** Ilang araw na ang nakakalipas simula nang mapagalitan kami ni Sir Eiichi sa office niya. The rumors about the Hansen clan was already circulating in the campus and Kana hated how she was getting too much attention because of it. Lagi rin siyang pinapatawag sa office ni Sir Hideo kaya nag-aalala ako sa pwedeng mangyari. “You look ten years older.” Sinamaan ko kaagad nang tingin si Hayate nang makita ko siya sa gilid ko. Akala mo naman siya, hindi nadagdagan ng ilang layers ang eyebags. “Ikaw nga parang ka-age mo na teachers natin,” I retorted. “May sinasabi ka ba, Reina?” I almost screamed when Ma’am Michiko appeared behind me. Hayate smirked at me and I seriously want to punch his face. “Hala, wala!” sabi ko na lang. “Bakit pala nandito ka, Ma’am?” She smiled while pointing at the tree behind us. “I have a business there.” “Huh? Wh—” “He’s here.” Napalingon naman ako nang marinig ko ang boses ni Kana at pagtingin ko ay nandoon siya sa tabi ng puno. I heard someone grunting and Hiroshi came out of hiding. “Thanks,” he sarcastically said to Kana. Agad naman siyang kinuha ni Ma’am Michiko dahil iyon ang “punishment” niya. He has to perfect the summoning of the weapons and since the concept was extracted from Ma’am Michiko’s sixth sense, she said she would help him just like how she helped her mother with the prototype of that project before. Natawa na lang ako nang hatakin siya ni Ma’am at hindi na maipinta ang mukha niya. He was looking at Hayate, his eyes pleading for help, but Hayate just ignored him and went back to the Intelligence department to do his own punishment. Hindi mo mapaghihiwalay ang dalawang ‘yon pero pagdating kay Ma’am Michiko, kaya nilang ilaglag ang isa’t isa. They just can’t handle her. My eyes drifted to Kana when I suddenly heard her chuckle. “I wish I can stay here a bit longer,” she mumbled while looking at those two. “You can,” sabi ko naman. She looked at me and smiled. “I can’t. You know that I only stayed here because of my personal matters.” “And you finally settled that.” Napatingin naman siya sa langit at pakiramdam ko ay hindi ko magugustuhan ang susunod na mangyayari. “I’ve been staying here for more than a year, and honestly, I have enjoyed my time here that I almost forgot I have a life outside this campus. I need to get back there.” “Kana . . .” “I’ve already talked to Sir Hideo. I’ll be leaving next week.” *** I was so shocked and angry that I marched into Sir Hideo’s office. Pagdating ko ro’n ay nakita ko ang pusa niya at nang tumingin ‘yon sa akin ay agad siyang tumalon mula sa bintana. “What’s the matter, Reina?” Napatingin ako kay Sir Hideo na ngayon ay nakatanaw lang sa bintana niya. He turned to my direction and stared at me with those intense green eyes. Parang bigla namang umurong ang dila ko nang kaharap ko na siya. His presence was too overwhelming. “Do you consider her as a friend?” bigla niyang tanong. “Of course!” I’ve been with Hayate and Hiroshi since we were young. Kana was the first girl I befriended and I see her as my sister. I don’t want her to leave. “Then let her go. She’s finally free from the vengeance that tied her down for so long. She wants to explore the world and help other people who experienced the same fate as her.” “But . . .” “I know that sending off a friend is hard, even unbearable for some,” he said and I don’t know if my eyes were just playing tricks on me but I could see the sadness on his face. “But there are times that you have to.” His words felt like an enchantment and somehow, it made me calm down and understand her intentions. Maybe that decision would be for the best. *** “Wait! Sure na sure ka na ba talaga?” tanong ko kay Kana. Hayate grabbed my arm and sighed. “There you go again.” Kana replied with a laugh. “My god, J, ang clingy mo. Don’t worry, I’ll contact you later.” Kana would leave today to get back in the FBI. She said her colleagues miss her already and that she’d be transferring to another division that handles high-profile and elusive criminals. Speaking of high-profile criminals, Takeshi was brought to Shima. Iyon ang ibinalita sa amin ni Sir Eiichi. That place would be perfect for him. I’m sure they would extract every information they could but I felt a bit sorry for him. That place is the hell of Erityians. A car stopped right in front of us and Ryuu came into view when he opened the window. “Well, I guess this is goodbye,” she said. “Your name,” biglang sabi ni Hiroshi na kanina pa hindi nagsasalita. “Huh?” Kana asked in confusion. “Your real name. You haven’t told us that yet.” “Oo nga no?” I commented. “I do not have one,” she said and that made me more confused. “Huh? What? How come?” “Didn’t I tell you? Hansen clan members only get their names when they turn thirteen. As a clan responsible for classified information and counterintelligence, they treat kids as a high risk. Names are especially crucial since that can endanger your own family, hence, they only give that when you can finally do things on your own.” Napanganga na lang ako nang marinig ko ‘yon mula sa kanya. So all this time, she has no name of her own? That’s kind of sad. “Well, I’ll be returning the name Kana since it’s only an alternative name, but you can still call me that,” she said. “Eh? But—” “Kaoru.” The three of us looked at Hiroshi when he said that. “That’s your name from now on,” he added. “Hmm. Kaoru, huh?” “Besides fragrance, one of the kanjis means flowing and living,” he explained. “You should live your life and let your time flow from now on.” Muli kaming natahimik nang sabihin niya ‘yon at nagulat ako nang ngumiti si Kana sa kanya. It was the kind of smile that she hasn’t given to Hiroshi yet. “I like that,” she remarked as she extended her hand to him. “I’ll miss our fights.” Hiroshi accepted her hand. “I won’t,” he said. “Be nice to your colleagues, Kaoru.” After that exchange, she boarded the car and bid her goodbye. At exactly 9:30:13 A.M., Kaoru finally left. “Let’s go,” aya ni Hayate pero hindi pa rin ako gumagalaw mula sa pwesto ko. I missed her already. “Ah, those kids are looking at us,” sabi naman ni Hiroshi kaya napalingon ako. “You mean glaring at Reina,” Hayate retorted. Nakita ko naman ang apat na bata at mukhang papunta sila sa Central Plaza at nakakunot ang noo ni Hiro habang nakatingin sa akin kaya tinaasan ko siya ng kilay. “Pagtitripan mo na naman,” sabi ni Hayate kaya napangiti ako. “I won’t be surprised if he resents you when he grows up.” “Wala na si Kana kaya sila na lang ang guguluhin ko. Sawa na ako sa inyong dalawa.” Hiroshi sighed. “Why am I only surrounded by boisterous and rowdy women?” “You should’ve gone with her then,” Hayate teased but he just rolled his eyes. Napailing na lang ako sa kanilang dalawa at tinawag nang malakas ang pangalan ni Hiro kaya lalong sumama ang tingin niya sa akin. Akane waved her hands at me but she accidentally hit Ken’s head so they started arguing, while Reiji silently followed Hiro who was hurriedly getting away. Natawa na lang ako sat nagsimulang maglakad papunta sa kanila. I was already a few steps away but I halted when Hayate called me. “Where will you work?” he asked. “Sir Eiichi said we should tell him our plans before graduation.” I’m sure those two would work in their respective departments. Napangiti naman ako dahil last week pa ako nag-submit ng requirements para sa balak ko. “I’ll be a teacher at a chakushoku,” I revealed and they both looked flabbergasted. “What the hell, Reina?” “Are you serious? Please, don’t be serious.” I ignored them and went to the kids’ direction but they continued following me, still bewildered by my decision. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to teach kids and I picked that school because I felt something bizarre when we went there once for a mission. Besides, the heir of the Querino clan is there. I want to observe her. “Reina, don’t ignore us!” My life has always been at standstill . . . until knowing Kana and doing missions with this team in the world of humdrums. Tick tock. Tick tock. And this time, I’ll make sure the clock won’t stop moving.