Hello guys!

I hope you're all doing well. I'm not too bad; I'm currently on a holiday plus that I had a little bit of work last week. Hope those of you in the U.S. had a great 4th July celebration!

This chapter will give you some more information about the characters. It's a bit more in depth than the previous ones. Please let me know if you liked or disliked it.

What is on your mind?

"I just realized something Himiko-chan" told the male as they walked towards the library. "Oh?" replied the female with a curious look at her face. "My birthday is falling on a Saturday this year. I better call my parents since they said they would visit me" replied Arkai with a grin on his face. It was in the end of January now and the guy would soon become an official adult. His parents had promised to visit him on the weekend after his birthday or on the day itself if it was during the weekend. "That reminds me. What do you want for your birthday? You sent me a really nice gift on my birthday last year" told Himiko with a sincere look at her face. She had received a nice pendant with some red stones in it when she turned 20 last August. "Hm…I need to think about that. I promise I'll have my answer ready in a couple days" assured the accountancy student as they entered the library. The duo had passed their geography course with great grades. The young woman had gotten a B while the male had received a C. She was taking psychology II, basic microbiology as well as physical assessment. Her male friend was now taking courses in corporate financial reporting, accounting systems I plus management consultation. These subjects were a bit more in-depth than the ones they had already taken. Both of their friends had improved their grades a bit as well. Kininata had signed up for organic chemistry II, genetics I plus bioinformatics. Marii on the other hand was now taking lessons in Japanese history and culture II, Japanese linguistics II as well as Japanese literature post 1800.

'It's weird to think that we'll be half done with our university degree this summer' thought the nurse student as she sat down with her psychology book. "Sorry we're late" greeted a male voice from behind. It turned out to be their other two friends. "That's fine; we just arrived ourselves. So what are we going to do here?" inquired the male brunette. "All three of you are going to fill out this quiz I have to hand in for my Japanese history and culture II class. In return, I'll proofread the guy's handins plus answering Himiko's quiz. What about you Kininata?" replied the younger female. "I'll be helping out Himiko-san with the microbiology as well as her survey. She was nice enough to cook enough dinner for two days yesterday" informed the younger male.

"Sounds about right. Do you want to correct mine first Marii-san?" inquired the guy. "Sure Arkai-san. Just give me a moment so I can get my kanji dictionary" answered the language student with a low voice. He handed her his essay while she pulled up her navy blue pencil case. Japanese had been one of his worst subjects during his time in high school. Since he studied mathematics now, there was not much reading to be required. But his geography teacher had told him that his somewhat poor language skill was one of the main reason why he got the grade he did. Arkai then decided to strike a deal with his female friend. She would give him constructive criticism plus feedback on his essays while he would answer all the quizzes required for her courses. He had offered to make a small budget for her as well if necessary. Thankfully, the female brunette had agreed to their deal. He was grateful for having a friend who could give him specific feedback on his essays. 'Focus now Arkai. You need to answer the questionnaire' remembered the male as he saw the sheet that lay in front of him. His stormy blue eyes read through the questions that were on both sides of the paper.

'Looks like it is about how the English language as well as foreign culture is influencing ours. Wait a second. Was not that the topic for my entrance exam?' recalled the teen as he suddenly remembered the exam. He could not help but to smile since that was almost two years ago. Time had surely flown by quite fast. 'How do you think foreign culture is influencing these topics? Circle around the number that represents the amount of influence. 1 is no influence while 5 is high influence' read the text. The guy pulled out his pen and started to read the questions. 'First one is music…I think I'll put a 3 here. There is more foreign music now than what it used to be just ten years ago. But we still have a lot of music that is produced in our nation. Particularly from Meikyoku' thought the accountancy student.

Bright green eyes studied the notes that his friend had done during her microbiology lesson. He had taken this course last year and had scored a decent grade at his exam. The female had highlighted the headlines that she had not understood with a pink marker. Everything she could grasp was highlighted with a green pen. Kininata noticed that about a quarter of her headlines were sporting a magenta colour while another quarter had an emerald green background. 'Looks like she has a grasp on how bacteria plus viruses works. But the algae is apparently something that's hard for her' noticed the guy. He could understand this since Himiko was a nurse who had already taken anatomy plus human biology. 'Maybe I should try to break down how the algae work in a way she understands. I'm quite sure I had some pictures in my notebook' remembered the biology student. He pulled up his notebook that had 'microbiology' written on the cover. The male flipped through some of the pages until he found what he looked for. One of their guest lecturers last year had given them a chart of some sort that showed how bacteria, virus plus algae worked. It even had a nifty table at the bottom with short descriptions.

"I'll be right back Himiko-san. I just need to copy something" whispered the redhead as he stood up. The young woman nodded before he went towards the copy machine room at the west end of the library. Enrai university library had a rather quiet atmosphere that was somehow lively at the same time. Even though the thick walls shut out the sounds from the outside, whispers or low voices could be heard between the shelves. He noticed that there were a couple of groups similar to theirs sitting at the tables he passed. Working in groups was something that the guy enjoyed quite a bit for several reasons. The other members could have understood something he found difficult or the other way around. Plus that it was a comfort to know that he was not the only one having hand-ins or difficult lectures.

'I can't believe that I'm well into my second year here…time surely flies fast' thought the teen as he entered the copy room. He then lined up in the small queue that was in front of one of the copy machines. The only people in front of him were two guys plus a female who he had seen in the helping desk downstairs. It did not take long until the male got access to the large machine. 'I need two copies that can be in black and white. There we go' thought Kininata after he swiped his student ID through the card terminal. A low 'drrrrrr' sound came from the machine as it scanned the documents. Two copies of the microbiology table were printed out at the other end before the machine went quiet again. He then removed the original document from the machine after he had stapled both of the copies.

"Hey Kininata!" greeted a voice. The guy turned around and saw Souzen enter the room with a smile at his face. "Hello senpai. How're you?" replied the biology student with a polite voice. "I'm doing quite well. But could you please tell our kendo instructor that I won't come to our lessons this week? I got a paper that's due at the end of the week plus one that must be finished next Tuesday" informed the older guy. "Sure. I know how you feel…I had to hand in a paper earlier today" told the male. "I sometimes wonder why I signed up for the education program. But I know that I will get a solid job afterwards. Have you thought about what courses you're going to sign up for next year?" inquired the education student. "I'm going to speak with an advisor next week. Do you have any advice on what I should ask them about? I mean, you've probably been there since you're a junior now" replied the redhead.

The older male closed his eyes for a couple of moments. He had a rather focused expression on his face. About twenty seconds later, he opened his eyes. "I think you should first write down what courses you have taken. Write a list of key words or short sentences about each course. Were there any courses that you loved to do or found challenging in a good way? Was there a course you were glad to be done with or just downright hated? This will make it easier for you when you're going to choose your level III courses next term" advised the male brunette. "Sounds great. Anything else I should do?" asked the guy as he tried to remember what the older man had just told him. "Yes. Make sure you find out what kind of level III courses you can take. Last but not least, find out what kind of field you want to work in. The advisor should be able to tell you what kind of job that would suit your interest. But make sure you pick a job that's hard to find or anything. Just because you have a degree won't give you a job once you leave university" warned the 20-year old. The teen nodded; his words were sadly true despite that not a huge number of people had completed a university degree. "Thanks for your advice. I better get back to my group. Good luck on your papers" told the male. He then left the copy room with the tables in his hands. The things that the older male had informed him about replayed in his mind as he jogged back to the table he sat at. 'I better write this down as soon as I get back to my table. Perhaps I should share it with the others as well' decided Kininata while he rounded a corner.

"All right Arkai-san. Here's your paper. I've written the feedback on the last page" told the female with a silent voice as she handed him the outline he had given her. "Thanks" whispered the male. Stormy blue eyes read over the outline that he had printed out earlier today. 'Oh Kami. This is worse than I imagined' thought Arkai as he saw the red lines strewn across the paper. Most of his errors seemed to be related to punctuation judging from the red commas and full stops that had been inserted into his next. Issue number two was how he had structured some of the longer sentences.

He then turned the paper to see what kind of feedback he had received. 'You need to work a bit more on the punctuation. Try to split your sentences in two or simplify your explanation if your teacher allows that. If you're unsure about where to place the comma, read the sentence out loud first. Insert the comma where you think you need a break' read the guy. "How did you find the feedback? I hope I wasn't too harsh" muttered Marii with a somewhat shameful look at her face. "Not really. I'm thankful that you took your time to read this through. But I'm glad you gave me examples on how to improve my Japanese too. Most of the teachers don't do that very often…but I'm studying subjects that are more about numbers" replied the accountancy student.

Japanese skills were not often corrected during assignments since they were mostly doing budgets, calculus or similar tasks. Plus that the Japanese they used to describe their tasks were usually quite simple in terms of structure. But some of the terms as well as the academic structure had been a bit more difficult to learn than the rest. "True. However, good Japanese skills are vital in order to get your message across. Make sure you remember that plus the feedback I gave you for the next assignment" advised the young woman. She had a look at her face that just had 'business' written all across it. "I'm back! Here you go Himiko-san" told a voice from behind. Kininata had returned with a copy of some papers. "Thanks Kininata-san" whispered the older woman, her eyes having a grateful look at them. She started reading the paper while the male sat back down in his chair. Chocolate brown eyes widened when they saw the different charts. "THANK YOU SO MUCH KININATA! This is gonna be SO helpful!" squealed Himiko as she grinned like an idiot. "Glad to hear that my notes could be in handy. Just make sure you remember what it says" replied the biology student. The young woman nodded while she studied the chart that was printed on the sheet.

"That reminds me…are you done finishing my quiz Arkai-san?" inquired the language student. "Almost. Just need a couple more minutes to finish the last questions. I have to revise it too so I make sure nothing funny is messing up with your results of this" promised the male. He picked up a pen while he prepared himself for the last question. 'Do you think your English education in high school/upper secondary school was good? Grade it on the scale below and please write your reason for this' read the male brunette. He closed his eyes while he tried to recall his lessons back at the upper secondary school back in Kosame. They had obligatory English lessons during their first two years there while the third year had English as an elective.

Memories of making an English folder consisting of different tasks plus a presentation about foreign culture started to float to the surface. The male brunette remembered that their teacher the first year was an elderly woman who was rather tall and thin. She was a bit strict with the class plus that she was not afraid to tell them what she expected of them. But the female was never too strict plus that she was good at pointing out the good things in their work. 'She had rather good lessons with us I'll say. She was not as 'cool' as the teacher I had at lower secondary school, but I was fine with that really. Upper secondary school is not mandatory after all' remembered the guy. Then was the teacher they had during the second year. She was younger and smaller in height than the one in their first year. A smile formed at his face upon remembering her. That English teacher was probably one of the best teachers he had during his time at secondary school in general. Some of their tasks they had to put in their folder were word finding games plus writing definitions or synonyms to common words such as 'beautiful'. Tasks like these were something Arkai enjoyed since he could use his logical-oriented mindset. Not to mention that he was a bit tired of the old 'finding the answers in the text' or 'find the right facts that will answer this question' tasks. He looked down at the question again to make sure that he could formulate a proper reply to the question. 'Time to get cracking' decided the male as his right hand begun to write his answer.

'What are the top five qualities do you look for in a partner and why?' read the question at the quiz. A sigh escaped from his lips as he rolled his eyes mentally. The male had never had much luck at the love department despite that he did not looked or acted like a mountain troll. His last relationship had fallen apart gradually plus that there were few girls who took biology or chemistry. Kininata shook his head a little so he could focus on the question in front of him. 'I suspect the qualities they're asking for concerns personality more than appearance since this is a psychology class. But what am I looking for in a girl who I want to hook up with?' thought the guy. There were a couple traits that made it to his mind that he found rather unattractive in a girl and people in general. People were highly judgmental or racist was one of the personality traits he did not like at all.

'Maybe I'll write 'open-minded' or something similar at the top first. People who want to try new things or give new ideas a chance are people I would like to know' decided the biology student. He wrote down 'open-minded' at number one while he tried to think of an explanation. 'Open-minded people are fun to be with plus that they don't judge people by their race or similar things' wrote the guy under his statement. But what should he write at number two? 'Maybe I should write 'kind'. I don't want a girlfriend who is treating people like crap or won't bother to help others unless she has a good reason for it' decided the redhead. He wrote down 'kind' at number two plus his thoughts about it below. Things were getting a little more difficult since the most obvious traits were filled in. Open-minded as well as kind were traits that many would find important in a partner. But what else could be important for him?

'I could handle a girl who doesn't know Mendel's genetics law, but not one who thought DNA was the name of a rock band. I should probably write down 'smart' for number three' decided the guy. He wrote down 'smart' behind the three before he tried to think of why. 'I don't think I would be able to discuss a lot with a girl who had no clue of what the capital in the country is. Or someone who thinks Kitkat bars are made out of cats' thought the teen while trying to not laugh as he imagined someone saying the Kitkat thing. The male managed to disguise his snort as a sort of cough while he wrote down his reason. His friend was going to have a laugh while reading this, but he had to give serious reasons from this point on. 'Unlucky number four. What should I choose?' pondered Kininata. He had already written down three top traits that would stir his interest. But was there something he had forgotten?

'Hm…maybe I should write something that some people tend to NOT do? But what can that possibly be?' thought the guy. He had met a number of women in different roles. Were there women or girls he did not like for something particular they did? Or did not do? The redhead knitted his brows while he tried to remember some girls or women he found disgusting. A memory about a former classmate of his arose. It was a slightly skinny classmate of his in upper secondary school who always seemed dirty. She either had some ketchup spots on her skirt (which was NAVY BLUE for the record) or looked like she had not brushed her shoulder length hair. The girl had somewhat nasty breath plus the odd flare of acne to match this. He knew that acne plus bad breath could be a bit hard to deal with due to illness or skin type. But she could have done something about her hair plus her filthy clothes. 'How should I formulate this on paper? Perhaps 'taking care of yourself' would be appropriate? I hope it does' decided the male. He then wrote down 'taking care of herself' in the number four line moments later. 'My reason is that a girl who puts a bit of effort to look decent shows that she takes herself seriously. I would be more respectful to a female who showers regularly and wears clothes than look good at her. I don't think I would do the same to a girl who doesn't shower or dresses like a slob' wrote the teen. He felt a silly smile form at his face while he read what he had written down. Himiko HAD told him to be honest in this research, so this was what she would get. But he still had one more trait to write down in the survey. What would be his fifth attractive trait? The guy had written down three personality traits plus one concerning appearance that he found important. He closed his jade green eyes as he tried to think of something that he would appreciate in a girlfriend.

'Maybe I should look at my group of friend for answers. Why am I still friends with Arkai while I don't speak with some of my other classmates that often anymore?' thought Kininata. He then thought about his high school class plus the friends here at university. Many of his high school friends were taking vocational education now or had started working. His three closest buddies were those who he had known for a long time. But that would not make the cut…where had the male met his new friends? 'I am getting along with people in the kendo group plus that I'm neighbors with one of them. GOT IT! I know what I'll write down for trait number five!' realized the biology student. He then wrote down 'common interests' next to the last number at the page. 'I think I'll be able to have a more long term relationship with a girl who has something in common with me. We don't need to have exactly the same interests, but it'll be great if we like the same anime or sports for instance' finished the guy. He re-read his answers one more time to make sure that his points had gotten across or if there were any typos in his replies. 'Ooops. I better fill in my age plus my gender at the top' noticed the redhead.

After half a minute, he poked his female friend at the shoulder. "Pst. I'm finished with your survey Himiko-chan. I hope this can help out in your research" whispered the male. She gave him a bright smile after she had taken a quick look at his paper. "Looks brilliant Kininata-san! Thanks a lot" replied Himiko with a happy expression at her face. She laid his paper into a pale pink folder that was labelled 'psychology research project'. "I'm done now. How're you guys doing?" inquired the other female. "I'm finished with my survey Marii-san. Here you go" told Arkai before he handed her his paper. "All right then. Guess we're finished for today. Maybe we should get some lunch?" suggested the youngest teen as he adjusted his backpacker. His friends nodded in agreement. "Let's go to Kesshoku café. They got discounts at the teas this week" informed Himiko. "I agree" told Marii with a smile. Both of the males nodded as they went towards the library exit.

I hope this chapter was a good read. Wish you all a great summer! As usual, praise or constructive criticism are much appreciated.