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We both stepped inside and saw that Mia was still in her office. She was staring blankly at her computer, maybe reading something. She shifted her eyes over to us and straightened up. She motioned for us to come inside.
Yukio and I both entered and took seats by her desk. Mia closed the door behind us and retook her chair. Looking at us, we could tell she was not prepared to have this conversation. Not that I could blame her; I was a bit nervous myself. I was just glad to have Yukio with me.
“So,” she began, “what did you want to know?” Her voice was quite low and disconnected. I could tell she was not truly willing to divulge information to us, but she also knew we would be too persistent to simply be avoided. If we were lucky, she would cooperate so we could move on and use whatever we learn to find Haruka.
Before I could try a gentle approach, Yukio jumped in and made his intention quite clear. “Haruka was harassed by Nicole Chambers while in a relationship with Levi Anderson,” he stated firmly. “Tell me why Nicole targeted him and the extent of his relationship with Levi?”
“The extent of his relationship with Levi?” she questioned. “They were a couple. The worst kept secret on campus.”
“Haruka was not the kind of person to fall for a broken tool like Levi. I want to know how they met and why they grew so close.” Wow, Yukio. Tell us how you really feel about Levi. I already used that joke…well, to be fair, I was surprised with how blunt he was being about Levi and Nicole. The quiet gentleman I met just yesterday was not currently present in that office.
Mia took in a long breath, preparing herself to the best of her abilities. “Levi Anderson was, and is, a troublesome student. For all his talent, he does little outside drugs and getting into trouble. Before he met Haruka, he was on the verge of being kicked out of school. Dr. Fiennes vouched for him, though.”
“When was this?” Yukio pushed.
“Levi was, I believe, a sophomore when threatened with expulsion. Second semester.”
“Second semester?” I breathed. A third student struggling during the second semester?
“What was the tipping point of his expulsion and what did Haruka have to do with it?”
“Levi had missed too many classes and his grades were suffering. He was given a final warning: if he missed anymore classes, he would be kicked out of the art department. Surprisingly, his professors were against this, saying he just needed a chance to prove his potential. The only person who was adamant about Levi leaving was Montgomery.”
“I’m not surprised,” I sighed.
“Levi was aware of the consequences, but he still missed class. However, I do recall this time being different.”
“Different how?” Yukio pushed.
“Well, when Levi skipped before, he was still seen around campus. His roommate at the time would confirm this, but there was a stretch of three days where no one had seen Levi. He just disappeared.”
“Disappeared?” I echoed. Just to up and vanish one day with no explanation? That sounded an awful lot like Haruka. Even Lily came to mind as I thought this over. Lily, as far as everyone was concerned, didn’t disappear, but she was taken away to somewhere unknown for at least a night.
“No one saw him, his roommate mentioned he hadn’t returned to the dorms in that time either. But before anyone could get the police involved, he came back. He refused to tell anyone where he had been and why.”
“Why wasn’t he expelled?” Yukio irritably asked. I could tell his patience was starting to vanish. I took his hand and squeezed it. Though I felt his body loosen a bit, I knew it wasn’t enough to bring his emotions back down just yet.
“Well, that’s the funny thing. He was about to be until Montgomery, of all people, came in and told Levi he could start with a clean slate the following semester, his junior year. Levi still skipped class and barely did any of the work, but his grades no longer reflected this.”
“That’s odd. Why was Montgomery suddenly be completely okay with Levi sticking around?”
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Mia stated. She was starting to look exhausted. “But things did get better as he and Haruka met during a studio class.”
“That’s how they met?” Yukio said.
“I can’t say much about the details of their relationship. What I do know is they began hanging out quite a bit a few weeks into the semester. Levi started coming to class regularly. His grades skyrocketed suddenly too; his GPA surpassed some of our best students at the time.”
I wish I could have said that I noticed any of this. Haruka was a freshman when I was a sophomore. I vaguely remembered seeing him in passing, but I never made an effort to speak with him.
Levi was just someone I avoided altogether. His demeanor, frankly, kind of scared me at the time. We didn’t have many classes together anyway, so I never had a reason to speak with him. All I knew about him was what I heard from other students, which was often enough to make me keep my distance at any given time.