85 Chapter 85: Slow Day. 

(A/N: Season 2 Starts!...Although I haven't even reached the 5th episode of Season 1 in Modern Family yet lol.)

'Damn it, I agreed without thinking much after she told me about the volunteer work. She played me so darn easily…Not going to lie, I find that very impressive.' I thought as I walked to Abby's car. I jumped out the car door and sat next to her.

"Hungry?" I asked.

"A lil' bit." Abby replied.

"Wanna come over and eat?" I asked.

She blushed a bit and said, "Sure. The answer to that question will always be 'of course' unless you lose your cooking skill."

I shrugged and said, "It's not that I'm good at cooking, it is your mom's horrendous food that made you come on over."

She chuckled a bit before narrowing her eyes menacingly. "I'm going to tell my mom that."

I wasn't afraid and said playfully, "Tattletale."

She puffed her cheeks immediately as no one likes to be called a narc. I poked her puffy cheeks, making her expression change once more to become a cheerful one.

Her hazel eyes were in direct view of the sunlight as we crossed an intersection. I gazed at her face, which in turn made her turn to look at me.


"Nothing, I was mesmerized by your eyes. That's all."

Her lips curled upward before she remembered that she had brown eyes instead of the beautiful green or blue eyes. (E/N: Haley and Taylor my man needs the full set lol)

"Don't lie to me." She said with irritation before looking at the streets.

"I'm not lying." I replied.

"Brown eyes aren't beautiful."

"Maybe, you just never see it the way I see it."

"Hmm? Then, tell me. How do you see it? And note that if I am not impressed by your answer, I will hit you."

I laughed at Abby's challenge and said, "Okay. But, if I do impress you, what then?"

She was stunned and she thought for a while. "Well…If your words really captivated me, then I'll…I will think about it later, but it'll be good."

I nodded and said, "Okay then. Challenge accepted."

I thought for a while before turning towards her.

"See? Brown eyes are boring. You can't change my mind." Abby said in self-depreciation as we almost reached my house.

"Not quite. I just don't know whether to do it in a poem, or just give you an example." I said.

Abby widened her eyes and said, "Wait…did you seriously?..."

"Which one?" I asked.

She blushed a little, pretended that she didn't care, and said, "Then…an example- NO NO… A poem!" She grinned like a 5 years old child, waiting for Santa Claus on the night before Christmas.

(A/N: Brace yourself for cringe as I was aiming to make your fingers all curled up when I wrote the next part)

I nodded and said, "Sure. Let me get into character first." At this moment, she had already parked her car in my driveway and waited for me to continue before she would go back home.

As I remembered all of my past life memories, I also remembered what I read on the internet before this.

"You hated your eye color, call it a dull and dirty brown,

Wished for the deep blue of an ocean, where admirers' hearts would drown."

Abby chided, "True."

I grinned and continued, "And it pained me when I realized, You'd never see it like I do. The way your eyes hints at a story, That I want to read right through."

"They hold specks of stolen sunlight, that you'd miss with just a glance. And a depth of raw emotion, that can freeze you in a trance. They are a fix of melted chocolate, When I'm craving something sweet, but hold a gaze so unwavering, that I find it meet-"

"Okay okay okay stop!!!!" Abby blushed hard, her face as red as a cooked tomato, and she grabbed my arms while shaking my body to stop me from continuing. My eyes were spinning as she shook me, prompting me to stop. She finally breathes easy and before she could say, "Now go out-"

I continued, "I fall right in the rabbit hole, when I look into your eyes. The brown of earth's unfettered beauty, that I yearn to memorize. When I was tired of not belonging, they made me feel like I had been found. And I hope you never say again, that your eyes…are simply…brown."

(credit to E.H poem)

Abby was swooning as I finished, and I got out of the car before I needed to deal with the repercussion. I wasn't trying to flirt with her, but I felt bad when I noticed she hated her own eye color.

"Goodbye Abby. See you tomorrow." I said. Abby's mood was complicated as mixtures of confusion, stirred, longing, and happiness were swirling inside her mind.

"O-Okay. See you tomorrow." Abby said. She couldn't wait to share the poem to her mother and Haley– which, by the way, would get me in a lot of trouble with the girls later on.

However, I remembered something so I turned back and walked towards the car as she wanted to drive away. I bent over slightly, leaned my arms on the car door and said, "By the way. How's your indie game going?"

Her eyes darted all around as she stuttered, "W- I…I haven't…"

"So you don't even do it when I'm not around huh."

Instantly she lowered her head and admitted, "Yes."

I nodded in understanding, and before I could walk away, she grabbed my arms and said, "Do..Do you have…free time?"

"To help you make the game?"

"Wha- Oh yeah. Yeah. For the game."

I narrowed my eyes at her in suspicion before saying, "Sure. no problem. I'll text you if I have some free time."

"Okay… Then, it's a date- It's a lesson!"

I was pretty sure that I heard her say date, but as she drove away hurriedly, and even knocked down a few garbage cans as she ran away, I couldn't ask her what she meant by that. I shook my head and walked to the front door.

As I entered my house, I checked my mail and read a few mails from the companies I had invested in. After a cursory reading, I found nothing important in the mails other than ass-kissing me for more money, therefore I just threw the mail away.

"I'm hungry." I muttered to myself before opening the fridge, only to find nothing inside. With a grimace on my face, I muttered, "Ughh..I need to go grocery shopping. Also, note to self, hire a housekeeper."

As my work kept piling up, I figured out that I couldn't keep doing all the work by myself anymore. And I do have the money to spend now.

"I'll contact Gloria to get the agency's number." I muttered.

Before taking a bath, I curled some iron and exercised for a good while in order to finally build some muscle. I've actually been doing it every day and only stopped if I had to go out and work. Hiruma's discipline and experiences had impacted me greatly, and his knowledge of athletic performance enhancement training and muscle building made it easy for me to bulk up.

I made a target that I would gain 20 more pounds of muscle before the year was over and finally graduate from my average skinny frame.

As I did push ups without wearing my shirt, I mumbled to myself. "Maybe Hiruma's standards also influenced me…*Hufff huff* Although my physique is still just average at the moment I feel inadequate as this body can't be used in a proper, high performance game of football…not that I want to play football.."

"Who's Hiruma?"

Suddenly, a feminine voice asked from my side. I turned my head to the source and found Alex pushing her glasses upward as she pretended not to see my bare body.

I shouted, "AHH PERVERT-"

"I'm not a PERVERT!" Alex was flabbergasted as I accused her.

"Intruder then!" I said decisively before continuing my workout.

"..." Alex was speechless as I ignored her, and asked, "Did you forget I was coming here to study?"

As I did another push up, I said, "No. But you should've knocked."

She was embarrassed and said, "Well you didn't lock the door. You should be more aware of your surroundings. What if a stalker comes in?"

"Like you just did?"

She retorted quickly, "I'm not a stalker!"

I ignored her again and said, "Anyway. I'd cleaned up the dining table. You and Jenna can study there."

"Will you…join us?" Alex asked carefully.

I looked at the clock and said, "I'll do nothing till 7. I decided that I could use a rest."

"Yet you're working out." Alex said sarcastically while rolling her eyes.

"Wanna study at home?" I asked with a sly smile.

Alex was exasperated and said, "No. My family is…being extra crazy today. I need to get out of there."

I nodded in understanding and did another push up.

"You don't want to ask?" Alex said.

"Nah. Let there be some mystery between us. That way, we won't get bored of each other in 20 years."

Alex was concerned and she crouched down next to me. "Are…you high?" She tried to sniff me for marijuana and even wanted to check my temperature, probably would have actually done it if I wasn't sweating from my workout.

I rolled my eyes at her and stood up before going to the bathroom.

"Oh Alex, I called some food delivery, so please help me and open the door for them if I'm still in the shower when they come."

"Is that a request or an order?" She asked while narrowing her eyes.

"An order." I smirked as I patted her head.

She puffed her cheeks as I grinned and walked upstairs to my room. After 20 minutes, I walked down in my gray shirt and sweatpants. I also had a harddisk on my left hand.

"What's that?" Alex asked as I walked to the TV and started hooking up the drive to the early age smart TV. Then, I sat down next to Alex on the couch while grabbing the remote.

"This my dear, is a work of art." I said before going to the one piece folder on the external hard drive. Alex was curious as I clicked on the Arlong Park folder and played the episode where the crew meets the sea beast, Moo-moo.

Alex rolled her eyes and said, "You're watching CARTOONS!"

"It's anime, and you'd just insulted billions of people by calling it a cartoon."

When I arrived in this world, one of my main concerns of living here was the lack of One Piece anime. In the previous worlds, I had followed the One Piece storyline for more than 15 years! However, I died there before I could even finish the Wano Arc!

My last memory of them was when Kozuki Momonosuke became an adult. That was it. I couldn't even make it to the end of the Wano Arc. Was Kaido defeated? Did Yamato join the crew and set sail with them? I would never know.

'I almost cried the day in realization that by coming here, I had once again fallen to the starting line of One Piece.'

I was not an avid anime watcher in my previous world. However, I was a true One Piece fan. All I could do now was download the available episodes from a few pirate sites to rewatch them again in my new life. Luckily, One Piece still existed here.

'Hell, it even existed in Hiruma's world. An Anime within Anime. I wonder if Oda sacrificed his karma to spread One Piece to the whole multiverse.'

"Who is that?" Alex asked as a pink haired swordsman came out on the screen.

"That's Zoro." I replied.

As it was a parallel world, there were some details in the story that were quite different from my previous world. In this world, Sanji's curly eyebrows were hexagonal instead of circular, God Usopp lost two teeth, and there were some other changes to different characters as well as some minor tweaks on the storyline, which made my viewing more refreshing.

"Who's that?"

"That's Sanji."

"Why are you watching the Japanese version without subtitles?"

I turned towards her and shushed her by placing my finger on her lips. "One more question, and you're going to get kicked out."

"Hmph!" She pouted before opening up her book.

I opened up the subtitles in case she wanted to watch the show and we sat there for half an hour before Jenna arrived.

[Alex's commentary]

"To be honest. I feel a bit insulted. Although I know that he learned a few languages before, I didn't expect to see him watching the show without translation."

Alex was a bit downcast as she muttered, "How did he find the time to learn that much? I studied all day long, and he can watch Cartoo- Anime,but… I guess he's just smarter than me."

She hugged her left arm as she confessed, "Honestly. It's terrifying. I know for sure he was dumber than me a month ago."

Her eyes showed hesitation as she said, "If that's the case…if someone…can be smart…without even trying…then what's the point of me studying so hard?"

Although she said that, she wouldn't ever stop studying. It was just a little rant to make her feel a bit better. She wouldn't ever stop, as no amount of external pressure could ever hope to surpass the one she put on herself to achieve excellence.

[commentary ends]

After the initial greetings, Alex wanted to move to the dining table to tutor Jenna, but the popular girl was curious as to why I was watching cartoons. Her obsession for me actually died down for a few seconds as she saw it, but rekindled as she saw my smiling face.

"Why…why are you watching…this show?" Jenna asked me with hesitation.

Alex chided, "Because he's a boy. That's why. All boys are childish."

I nodded and said, "True." Alex rolled her eyes at me as a response for my lack of enthusiasm for the conversation.

Jenna swallowed her words as she heard my admittance and suddenly the scene showed Nami's backstory. Alex's eyes shook and Jenna was hooked to the screen. For 20 minutes, the two girls stood by my side as they watched the show.

It ended with the Strawhats' march to Arlong Park after Luffy put his hat on Nami's head. Before I could press the button for the next episode, Alex and Jenna suddenly sat by my side as they wanted to watch the show.

"Not studying?" I asked.

"Well…Jenna just came, so I'm letting her rest a bit first." Alex said while Jenna nodded. I scoffed at them before playing the next episode and watched the Strawhats battle with the fishmen. Hours passed by, and I could swear that I saw Alex and Jenna wipe their tears as they watched the show.

"I thought you said it was just a cartoon?" I teased Alex as I stood up from the couch to get a glass of water.

"Wait. Are you not playing the next episode?" Jenna asked fearfully.

I sighed and said, "If I watch it, then you guys won't study. It's almost 6 now. I'm stopping to get dinner."

"NO! Seriously!?" Alex turned to check the clock and found out that she had been wasting 2 hours of her precious studying time to watch the anime. "YOU DEVIL!" She cursed at me.

I was confused and I said, "Why are you calling me a devil? You're the one who sat next to me?"

"No! IT'S YOUR FAULT! Come on Jenna! We only have half an hour left!" Alex grabbed Jenna's arm and pulled her toward the dining table.

I laughed at them and walked to my bedroom. Halfway up the stairs, Alex said using a loud voice from afar, "Copy the show for me!"

"Make it two!" Jenna added.

"I don't have enough drive. One of you will have to borrow mine." I shouted back.

"I will take yours!" Jenna said hurriedly before Alex could open her mouth.

[3rd Person POV]

Pepper was in a meeting with the company's staff after Ed's successful debut to the industry.

"Harvey. Scandals?" Pepper asked the pixie cut, suit wearing female lawyer in front of him.

"Many psychos claimed that they knew him, or had done it with him. Some worse cases even claimed they were carrying his babies. I shut them all down, so there won't be another scandal except for the one with Taylor and Selena."

"Even Selena?" Pepper asked in confusion.

Harvey nodded and said, "Yes. A few… 'rational' fans have started to root for Ed to end up with Selena instead of Taylor, as they were more… 'age-appropriate…' They are even brainstorming their 'ship' name right now. "

"Will it damage his reputation?" Pepper raised his brow as he asked.

"No. It'll help him tremendously as the article has no claims to it. It'll just spread his name to the public."

"Okay. I'll leave that, and the expansion of our legal team to you. I can't wait to meet Donna."

Harvey nodded while Pepper turned his head to face the logistic manager next. "How's the merchandise sales?"

"The revenue is expanding, and it's gone international. In fact, most of the new orders are from Europe and Australia. A lot of Asians also want to buy the merchandise, however we don't have a distribution channel over there."

Pepper nodded and asked, "Can you find a stable channel?"

"I can try. But it'll take some time."

After thorough discussions with his own staff, Pepper had another meeting with the movie studio and set up a recording session with Taylor on Friday through the proper channel – her own agency. Although Taylor had confirmed that she was free till Monday, the agency kept claiming that Taylor had prior schedules and tried to postpone the recording session.

"Caged bird she is." Pepper channels his inner yoda after he gave the agency an earful.

Harvey walked beside him and said, "A lot of companies want to offer sponsorship for his next concert. Have you talked to him about it yet?"

"Not yet. He needed some rest, so I won't bother him with unconfirmed stuff."

"I see. I will try to get more than vocal agreement then. About his interview…it was posted to his website, which made the tv company quite irritated. How do we respond to it?"

Pepper turned to Harvey and said, "What are our options?"

Harvey said, "We could pull it down and reupload it after the TV interview airs. However, the TV interview is quite different from the live broadcast and I took great care while drafting that contract. I'm pretty proud of it actually, one of the first to handle such a situation for such a talent I believe, so they don't have any claims to force us to pull it down. We can just ignore them, but Ed will start his career with a bit of enmity with the TV station. I think we should avoid that."

"But…he's not going to be an actor?" Pepper asked in confusion.

Harvey nodded in understanding and explained, "We don't know that. He might get the opportunity in the future. So it's better to be prepared. Not to mention that this industry is interconnected. Offend one then you offend many."

(Quite chinese cliches, but it's actually true. A lot of new actor/actress suffer from it)

"Hmmm…What if…we don't pull it down, but instead, we make it seem that the website is undergoing an update as we have a lot of traffic. So it doesn't seem that we're following the studio's demand instead of technical difficulties…Better yet. What if we promise the network they will keep the exclusivity of the "Shivers" performance for some time, you know…tell them we will keep that song from our upcoming 3 song release next 2 weeks? I mean we haven't even done the proper recording ourselves but they don't need to know that…" Pepper said slyly.

"That'll work." Harvey said before she gave Pepper some documents to sign.

As Pepper finished, his eyes widened and his face paled as he heard Harvey's next sentence, "Lastly, about my salary…"

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