22 Login 22: Asking for Help

<<Crystal Mist Apartment Complex>>

Time 3:15 PM

After sweating it out for about a couple of hours at the gym, basking in his gym workout afterglow, Jae makes his way back to Nico's apartment. Along the way, the people that he passed by couldn't help but steal glances at the handsome young man, enchanted by the radiance that he's emitting.

At the elevator, a couple of ladies kept giggling at the back corner as they not so covertly and shamelessly stare at him. They even added an extra sway on their hips as they strutted out of the elevator when they got off. Unfortunately for them, Jae couldn't care less about their attempts at flirting with him as his eyes are currently focused on his phone screen.

Jae did not pay the two ladies any attention and just continued reading some Dragoon tactics on his phone, while he listens to Nico's relaxing compositions on his wireless earphones.

Although the gym has their own shower rooms, Jae didn't bother using them and just opt to use the one at the apartment.

One, because he wants his privacy and didn't want to be bothered when taking bath. The bliss that warm water can only provide needs to be savored and Jae intends to keep it that way. Additionally, the idea of sharing the rowdy and packed shower rooms at the gym with unknown strangers, doesn't really bode well with Jae. Jae wants his peace and quiet, which makes Nico's apartment a haven for him. Plus, Nico's apartment is just upstairs.

And Two? Jae just doesn't want to use the gym's shower rooms, plain and simple.

Arriving at apartment no. 26, Jae unlocked the door and entered the quiet apartment. He made a stop at his mini wardrobe first, to grab a change of clothes, then placed his phone and earphones on the coffee table where his laptop is before heading straight to the bathroom to take his much needed and desired bath.

As the warm water cascades down his body, Jae closed his eyes and relishes the peace and quiet around him. He didn't really notice it before or maybe he just didn't want to acknowledge it, but all the time that he's been with Hysteria, Jae never truly felt at peace. That's why, subconsciously, he's been craving for it all those years.

Now that he has finally attained the peace he's been craving for, Jae will make sure that he treasures every single moment of it.

After about an hour, Jae has finally finished taking a bath. As he got out of the bathroom, a cloud of steam spilled out of the bathroom door, making his exit very dramatic and "Steamy".

Now wearing a comfortable sweatpants and a form fitting cotton t-shirt, Jae dried his still damp hair with his towel while walking towards the coffee table where his laptop is.

Jae was about to switch on his laptop when a message arrived on his phone with a *Ping*. Checking who the message is from, Jae unlocked his phone. When Jae saw that the message is from Nico, he opened it right away.

[Nico:

Jae could you meet me at the cafe located across the street from Kuya Joseph's internet Cafe?

I'm currently there right now.]

Jae typed out a quick reply before he stood up and grab his wallet, put on his shoes before heading out of the door in record time.

[I'll be there.]

<<***>>

<<Bean there, Than that!>>

Time 5:18 PM

The bustling lively chatter and atmosphere greeted Jae upon entering the busy and packed cafe. Group of friends chatting and laughing together, students cracking open books as they concentrate and study amongst the liveliness around them, white collar workers does there best to talk their way into getting a business deal the clients in front of them, while some just lounged and passed the time as they enjoyed the delectable drinks and food they've ordered.

Amidst the crowded cafe, thankfully nobody recognized Jae, with the help of the glasses that Nico lent him. Craning his neck to the best of his ability, Jae carefully scanned the busy crowed. Jae was able to finally located Nico after a couple of minuets of searching, when he saw a lone figure occupying a table at the very corner of the cafe, fully engrossed in what he's doing. Jae weaved through the busy crowd and headed to the table where Nico sat at once, the moment he located him.

Nico sat at a corner table, where his full concentration is currently being held by the songs that he needed to decide on for the charity showcase, that he didn't notice Jae walking up to him.

"Nico!" Jae spoke, successfully gaining Nico's attention.

As Nico lift up his head from his laptop screen, a tired smile emerged on his face at the sight of Jae.

"You're here" Nico said with an obvious tired voice. He was really relieved that Jae was able to make it.

"How many coffees have you already drank?" Jae asked in concern upon seeing the stack of venti sized coffee cups on the table.

Noticing Jae's concern, Nico reassured him right a way. "They're not all mine, don't worry. Although, I might've already downed my second cup of coffee and is still needing another one." Nico admitted while releasing a tired sigh, as he pinch the bridge of his nose to ease the dull ache on his head.

"I'm not sure about another venti sized coffee one but maybe a fruit drink could help" Jae suggested, not wanting Nico to be overdosed in caffeine.

"Yeah..." Nico agreed in a barely audible tone, as he took a deep breath before releasing it.

"Rest for a few minutes while I go order, okay?" Jae said, looking very concerned for his friend.

"Okay" Nico nodded his head before yawning.

Jae made his way towards the counter and fell in line. While patiently waiting in line for his turn to order, he lifted his head and began scanning the menu. It was understandable that it would take time for Jae to have his turn with a packed house like it currently has. As Jea observed the baristas and workers behind the counter, moving at the speed of light, he had a whole other level of respect towards their hard work and dedication to their craft.

Finally having his turn to order, a petite lady greeted him with a professional and sincere beaming smile, that although she might've already going at it for hours now, but she never once showed in her face nor her movements.

"Hi! Welcome to Bean there, than that! What's your order for today?" The petite lady asked cheerfully.

"Yeah....Uhhh- I would like to order a venti sized 'Fruits of the forest'-" Jae responded politely.

"Mhm! Anything else?"

"And a tall sized 'Summer in a cup' please." Jae said, really intrigued by what summer in a cup is.

"Wonderful! That will 435 pesos"

Jae fished out his wallet from his pocket and took out a five hundred bill from it. Handing the bill, the petite lady behind the counter gratefully took it and said "I received 500 hundred" before personally checking the authenticity of the bill. After confirming that the bill is indeed real, the petite lady proceeded to punch in numbers on the cash register. Once finished, the familiar sound of *ding* rang, as the cash register opened. The petite lady expertly maneuvered her way through the cash register and was able to hand Jae his change even before he could say coffee.

Mighty impressed by the employees' work ethic, Jae didn't even count the change and just put it all inside the tip jar. He even added another 50 peso bill just for good measure.

"Thank you!" The petite lady said with a grateful tone in her voice when she saw Jae put money on the tip jar.

"You guys deserve it" Jae said with a sincere tone in his voice, as a soft smile lifted on his face.

The petite lady behind the counted visibly blushed and couldn't help resist Jae's natural charm.

"Oh! Before I forget, what name shall I put on the drinks?" The petite lady asked, upon remembering.

"It's Jaeeeeeee-son. Jaeson." Jae answered.

Jae didn't particularity want to hide his real name, per say, but revealing his real name might not be a good idea as of the moment, considering that the "news" about him leaving Hysteria is still burning. People might not recognize him now but people are smart. Sooner or later, people will be able to put the pieces together and found him out. But until that happens, Jae will do his best to preserve the peace that he currently has.

"Jayson it is." The petite lady said with a smile, while writing the names on two cups.

"Please wait at the claiming counter for your name to be called out so we could serve you your drinks"

"Alright, thank you!" Jae said with a slight bow before heading to the claiming counter.

Patiently waiting for his name to be called out, Jae couldn't help but feel that someone has been staring at him, ever since he arrived at the claiming counter. Jae didn't pay it no mind at first but as the time passes, he became more and more uncomfortable that he started squirming.

"I'm sorry for my terrible manners. Do you have a second?" A calm and collected voice came from Jae's right side.

As Jae turned his head to the owner of the voice, he saw a very dignified woman wearing a sharp and crisp suit. She wore at lease a 5 inch pointy stilettos, the ones that could stab a person to death, while her hair is tightly held back on a neat and clean bun. The application of make up on her face is just right, that it accentuated her beauty, making her age very mysterious.

"My name is Yvonne Lucas, a senior fashion manager at Verum Model Management." Yvonne said introduction. She held out a black glossy business card towards Jae, while sounding and looking very professional.

"Uhhh... Hi" Jae said with an unsure voice, but he took the business card nonetheless.

"I'm not going to been around the bush, as you and I both have something else to do, I'm sure." Yvonne said, sounding very business-like. "I approached you because you have a potential to be a model. Now, if you are interested in dipping your toes into the modeling industry, then go to the address stated in the card and hand that card over to the front desk."

"Venti Caramel Macchiato for Yvonne!" A barista shouted from behind the claiming counter.

"That's for me" Yvonne informed Jae before walking over to the counter and claiming her order. She then turned back to Jae and said "Think about it carefully and hopefully we'll meet again in the future."

Yvonne then gave Jae a slight nod and smile before she walked away and out of the cafe. Jae stood in daze, not knowing what just happened. He was only snapped back to earth, when the barista called out his name.

As Jae walked back to where Nico sat with a tray in hand, he kept flipping the glossy black card on his other hand. Jae studied the card, front and back, while many thoughts pop inside his head.

Arriving at the table, Nico noticed the black card in Jae's hand got curious right away.

"What's up?" Nico asked casually

"Ummmm... A lady handed me her business card, saying that I have potential in modeling" Jae responded with an unsure voice, while placing their drink on the table.

"Well, she is not wrong" Nico said truthfully

"You think so?" Jae asked with surprise

"I mean... have you seen yourself in the mirror? Of course!" Nico said as a matter-of-factly. Nico never like sugar coating what he says anyways, so he told Jae his own honest opinion.

"Th-Thanks" Jae said. Suddenly feeling good about himself.

The traumatic experience that Jae went through had really shattered his confidence. Gaining and building back one's confidence can take some time and Nico understood this.

"Your welcome" Nico said with a grin on his face. "Now, I called you here because I need help".

"What can I do?" Jae swiftly offered his services.

"I need you to help me with this song choices for the Charity showcase" Nico said, showing Jae the tentative list of songs on his laptop.

"Maybe I'm not the right person for this. Isn't the showcase a really big deal? I don't wanna ruin it for you." Jae said with immediate reluctance.

"I trust you." Nico said truthfully, causing Jae's heart to soar.

"R-really?" Jae asked in disbelief

"Why would I call you here for help if I don't trust you?" Nico deadpanned.

"Point taken" Jae said before looking over the list of songs.

Jae skimmed over the list and though that the songs on the list are pretty standard showcase choices, which typically composes of a long list of classical music.

Tchaikovsky - Check

Bach - Check

Vivaldi - Check

Beethoven - Check

And the list goes on.

Now, how did Jae know who this people are? That's a story for another time.

"Hmmm... I think their pretty standard for the occasion, is it not?" Jae said, stating his honest opinion.

"That's the thing! It's all 'Standard'!" Nico groaned, throwing his hands in the air in defeat.

"What's wrong with standard?" Jae frowned in confusion.

"Standard is equals to boring! This pieces has been repeatedly played and overused over and over again." Nico explained, as slight vexation rises from within him. "We need to figure out a way to spice up this otherwise vanilla set of songs".

"How about your compositions?" Jae suggested out of nowhere, "I mean, I've been listening to them on repeat"

"You have?" Nico eyes widen in disbelief

"Yeah! They're really good" Jae said in sincere honesty.

"I can't though" Nico sigh

"Why not?" Jae frowned again

"They're not good enough" Nico just said

"But-"

"But nothing Jae! It's not going to happened, let's move on." Nico said dismissively. Nico pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to once again ease the growing ache that's starting to flare in his head.

"Okay" Jae conceded and din't push for the topic any longer.

Nico and Jae brainstormed for hours, until the sun has fully set and the beautiful moon is high above the sky. Nico respected all of Jae's suggestions and opinions, which in turn made Jae more and more confident to speak his mind out, which led to them butting heads sometimes. But all in all, it was safe to say that calling Jae was the best choice that Nico has ever made that day. They synergized with each other pretty well and although they sometimes clash, they always found a middle ground where they can both agree. They understood each other pretty well and it made the whole ordeal, surprisingly more enjoyable for Nico.

Now, finally done with their work, Nico slump back on his chair with a tired smile on his face.

"Good job!" Jae smiled softly. He himself is pretty tired but the enjoyment overshadowed it.

"You too! Oh and thanks again for helping me. You don't how much this helped me. Thank Jae!" Nico sincerely and gratefully said.

"No problem! I'll always be here to help you" Jae said

"That's really reassuring. If you don't mind, I'll hold on to that then" Nico said with tired but accomplished grin on his face.

Scrolling though the Rampage app newsfeed, a certain article caught Jae's attention.

"Hey, it says here that there will be a 'Live Auction' that's going to be held at the Asia Rampage Conference. Will you be selling your self-made items there?" Jae said before taking sip from his drink.

"I dunno yet. I want to but the showcase is taking too much of my time, and I still haven't made enough items yet." Nico said with another groan. Nico really wanted to sell his self-made items at the Asia Rampage Conference the moment he saw the news, but prior commitments is holding him back from doing so.

"It's quality over quantity. You're the ever so famous 'Wandering Minstrel', anything you put out for sale will surely be fought over by everyone. Plus, less stocks while the demand is big is equals to higher biding price, right?" Jae said

"Fair point. I might actually do just that." Nico said with an impressed tone in his voice.

Notes:

Bean there, Than that! - *Is a fictional famous coffee shop, similar to that of Starbucks.*

Fruits of the forest - *A 100% freshly juiced fruit drink that is known for being a very good source of antioxidant. It is among Bean there, Than that!'s best selling drink.*

Summer in a cup - *A blue refreshing drink similar to Starbucks's pink drink. Also a Bean there, Than that! best selling drink.*

Verum Model Management - *Is a fictional famous modeling agency, which means "true" in Latin*

Tchaikovsky, Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven - (Author speaking) * These are some of my favorite classical music composers.*

Live Auction - *Are held every Rampage conference where players can bid live. It is very similar to in-game auction. The only difference is, self-made items sold in live auctions are rarely ever seen in in-game auctions. Where only one of a kind and special self-made items are sold off. Before items are sold off at the live auctions, the items must go through a panel where each item will be studied and scrutinized carefully, to see if they are worthy to be sold off at the live auction.*

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