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Recap / Never Satisfied Chapter Five

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As a recap page, all spoilers below have been unmarked. You have been warned.

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Lapointe spreading out January's, Ana's, Tetsu's, and Broom Girl's files.
Lapointe: Tell me about this contestant.
Ophelia and Derry: January
Ophelia: She broke my zebra finch’s wing.
Derry: She was a very vocal player in Sylas’… departure.
Lapointe: I see… Well. She has excellent credentials. Guard apprentices always do well in this position. Their loyalty to the magistration is invaluable. She’ll do.
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The chapter opens on Sunday morning in Lapointe's office, where she, Derry, and Ophelia are having a meeting about yesterday's incident. Derry consults a seeker stone, noting that nobody's been able to get a visual of the husk itself yet, and Ophelia mentions that people have seen the smoke and have been asking questions. Lapointe tells them to brush off the questions, confident that Su-Yeong will reveal herself in time. She changes the subject, holding up January's file and asking the proctors to tell her more about her. Ophelia mentions that she broke her zebra finch's wing, and Derry mentions that she was the biggest factor in Sylas dropping out.

Lapointe grins, commenting that guard apprentices typically exhibit great loyalty, and we cut to January herself, doing her morning workout routine with her twin younger brothers, Abel and Mark. It's part horseplay, part showing off — Friday, the twins, and the twins' familiars[[note:Mark and Abel]] count off the pushups she does with the boys riding on her back. As she hits her goal and gets ready for another exercise, her mother comes out, telling her that her uncle Joseph has just called, and January needs to come to the guard station immediately.

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Laughing, January leaves, but before she can make it much further than her yard, she encounters her oldest brother, Fred, holding her youngest brother, Mason, in a headlock while Mason's familiar tries to get him to stop. January intimidates Fred into letting Mason go, then ropes him into a quick, but serious discussion about what roughhousing is acceptable and what is crossing the line. Fred reluctantly agrees to apologize, and January sets off to the guard station. January's vertical shortcutnote  lands her behind the station, where a pair of guards jokingly chides her for not using the front door. They clown around, one of them commenting how strange it is that she and Joe are related, given how they act nearly nothing alike, and January slams the back door open.

The guard station has a businesslike, almost subdued, atmosphere. A handful of guards look up from their work at January's bombastic entrance, and Joe Rothart turns from his chat with Rin Soga, who wears a fancier uniform than the rest of the guard, to beam at his niece. January's immediately starstruck by Rin's presence and, even as Joe brags about her, begins chattering excitedly about what's so important that the head of the guard showed up. Rin informs her that Lapointe has requested to meet with January, and both January and Joe freak out: January in nervous excitement, and Joe in panic. Joe cuts off January's nervous speculation with a cookie in the mouth, but he's not much calmer as he tries to reassure her (and himself) that everything's going to be fine.

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Rin, perturbed, reminds the two that it's best not to keep Lapointe waiting. She turns to Seiji, who's moping on a couch with Junko, and instructs him to escort January to Lapointe's residence. He gripes that January doesn't need an escort, but gets up anyway after some prompting from Rin.

Rin: Seiji.
Seiji: What.
Rin: Take the cadet to Magister Lapointe’s residence.
Seiji: She can find it herself, can’t she?
Rin: Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize how busy you were, Seiji.
Seiji: Fine. You can stay, Junko.
Junko: Planned to~

The two teenagers leave, Joe pressing his face to the window. Seiji's visibly annoyed as January tries to strike up a conversation with him by making fun of Sylas. He doesn't say anything but grows more irritated as January refers to him as "Crylas", asks if he hangs out with him as a joke, and brings up him quitting the competition.

We cut to the night before as Seiji cheerfully enters Sylas' bedroom from outside. His spirits are high, in direct contrast to Sylas, who's lying unresponsive on top of his bed in his pajamas. He makes multiple attempts to lighten the mood — after all, it's not like Sylas wanted the representative position, so who cares? — but Sylas snaps at him for being inappropriately flippant. He turns to face Seiji, eyes red from crying, and starts to rant about how Seiji has no idea the pressure he's under. Seiji becomes increasingly flustered as Sylas goes on to tell him how his dad reacted to him quitting: by pretending he didn't exist. Frustrated, Sylas says that maybe it'd be better if he didn't exist, since everyone hates him anyway. Seiji, panicking, tries to correct him, but Sylas isn't having any of it, accusing him of treating their friendship as a joke.

Back in the present, January picks up that Seiji's thoughts are elsewhere, and he finally addresses her. He's deceptively calm, telling her that she could face serious consequences for picking on an aristocrat like Sylas. He comments that the only reason January isn't facing serious consequences is that Sylas is too much of a pushover to do anything about the way she's been treating him, which January misinterprets as him agreeing with her that Sylas is pathetic. This proves to be the last straw for Seiji, who turns around and grabs January by the front of her shirt. Drawing magical power, he starts yelling in her face that he's in just as much a position to ruin her life as Sylas is, and while Sylas might not be willing to do anything about her behavior, he is.

January's startled by this, but before Seiji can do anything, she punches him hard in the stomach and he collapses to the ground. Winded, he tries to get out another threat, but she cuts him off by kicking him in the face. Sasha, walking past, sees the altercation and freezes. She looks on in horror as Seiji tries to get up again and January stomps on his back, hollering that she isn't afraid of him and that he won't take anything from her. Friday desperately tries to rein January in, and eventually she comes to her senses, taking off with her familiar.

While Seiji's recovering, Sasha cautiously approaches him, asking if he's okay. Startled, he teleports the brooch pinned to his tie away and casts a glamour over his eyes, then turns to assure Sasha he's fine. Seeing how hurt he is, Sasha begins ranting about how much she hates January as Seiji scrabbles for his glasses.

Sasha: Oh!! I hate her! I hate her!! You didn’t have to do that for me!
Seiji: Huh?
Sasha: She’s still really mad at me for stealing her hat. You were getting her to leave me alone… Right…?
Seiji: ... Of course, kiddo.

Sasha, delighted, hugs Seiji. He endures it for a moment, then stands up uncomfortably, telling her he needs to go. She's disappointed and pulls out the money she was paid for participating in yesterday's test, asking if they can have dinner together. Seiji covers the back of his neck and simply asks Sasha to give him the money.

We cut to January, hunched over on a roof and panicking. The weight of what she did in the heat of the moment has finally hit her, and she's terrified of what's going to happen next. Friday tries to cheer her up, pointing out that Rin's too clever to believe that she'd attack Seiji for no reason, and eventually manages to get her smiling again. Satisfied, he reminds her that even if Seiji tries something, if Lapointe likes her, it won't matter what he does... which reminds January that if they don't get moving, they'll be late to their meeting.

No longer freaking out about Seiji, January takes off and finds Lapointe's house, where her butler, Matthew, waits at the door. His magpie familiar points the way to Lapointe's private beach, and January nervously follows. Lapointe sits at a beach table with two chairs set up around it and one set off to the side, idly watching the ocean. January approaches, unsure of what to make of the scenario since Lapointe hasn't yet said a word. More timid than we've seen her before, she gets Lapointe's attention. The first thing Lapointe has to say is that Seiji isn't with her, and January freezes up, frantically scrambling for an excuse...

Until Lapointe casually remarks that the only reason she'd asked Rin to have Seiji escort January in the first place was because she wanted Seiji to know he was being replaced. Shooting January a conspiratorial grin, she invites her to take a seat at the other chair that's set up next to the table. Once January's situated, Lapointe begins by telling her she's heard a lot about her... most especially that she was involved in Sylas quitting. January buries her head in shame.

Lapointe: It’s for the best, really.
January: Ma’am…?
Lapointe: What did you do to make him quit? Bully him?
January: I, um… I told him to do us all a favor and choose himself.
Lapointe: HAH! And so he did! Even though he could have chosen you. Or even had the whole thing thrown out and redone! Do you know why he did that?
[January meekly shakes her head.]
Lapointe: Because he’s weak. What kind of representative would he be if he can’t take negative pressure? It’s a public position. It isn’t for the faint-hearted. If he can’t handle a boat full of children heckling him, he wouldn’t last a second in front of a city crowd. He’s a coward, plain and simple, and I should have known better than to waste my time with those spoiled, aristocrat boys. They’ve never worked a day in their lives, of course they’d be useless brats.

As Lapointe goes on about how weak and useless Sylas is, January grows more and more uncomfortable... until Lapointe changes the subject to how proactive and hardworking January is. She weaves a verbal cord around January's neck as she glowingly describes how all the best representatives have been selfless, loyal young ladies just like January. Bowled over by the flattery, January relaxes — maybe this meeting isn't going so bad after all. Which is great, because Lapointe is just thrilled to begin sponsoring January.

Wait, what? January says she'll need some time to think about it, but Lapointe is unconcerned — there's nothing to think about, as she's already decided to give January her full support! After all, whoever's going to win will spend their time working closely with Lapointe, so it's naturally best that someone Lapointe likes becomes representative. Still starstruck and determined to impress Lapointe, January agrees. Lapointe indulgently tells January that she can call her "Fidelia" and sends her on her way. Lapointe watches January leave, the island fire still smoking in the distance, and Duchess steps out, remarking that Lapointe certainly knows how to pick 'em. As she steps on a crab, Duchess comments that January will be just like Yvette.

Speaking of Yvette, we transition to Joe, quietly doing work. He's trying to focus, but he's got a small framed photograph on his desk that he keeps looking up at. It features him and someone else hoisting a triumphant Yvette onto their shoulders. We can't see much of the other person, as Joe reaches out to touch the picture and covers him with his hand, but he's slender, pale-skinned, and slightly taller than Joe. Joe sighs regretfully before January bursts into the room, shaking him. She's beside herself with excitement about Lapointe's sponsorship, and Joe has to struggle to appear happy for her. He attempts to give her some words of caution, but they sail over her head:

Joe: Listen, January. Don’t… don’t let this go to your head. Magister Lapointe is–-
January: Fidelia…
Joe: She’s – Don’t get taken in by her. She’s a dangerous woman. I don’t want to see you get hurt.
January: But she likes me. I don’t have anything to worry about.

The scene shifts to Rin Soga's dimly-lit office, where she's busy with an assortment of paperwork. Seiji enters, slamming the door, and she wearily starts to remind him of something she's told him before when she looks up and sees the state he's in. Immediately concerned, she asks what happened, and he tells her that January did it, not meeting her gaze. She's indignant at first, but takes a moment to reconsider, and asks if that's the whole story. Though Seiji's initially defensive, Rin gives him a tired look and he sits back down, sheepishly refusing to answer.

With the air of someone who's had this conversation several times, Rin comments that he should really know better than this by now... what was it this time, did he make a pass at her? He grumbles that he could do better than her, and manages to keep his cool for about five seconds... before launching into an impassioned rant about how she was mean to Sylas and now Sylas is mad at him and it isn't fair. Rin rolls her eyes, then patiently explains that if Sylas is mad at Seiji, it isn't January's fault... and Seiji flips out, because Rin used the word "boyfriend." Rin, undeterred, bluntly explains that she's been aware Seiji's been harboring a crush on Sylas for some time, and Seiji storms out.

The chapter ends on a montage of the various characters we've seen this chapter: Seiji leaning against the outside of Rin's study door, flustered, January excitedly bragging to Abel and Mark as Fred stands in the kitchen with their mother and apologizes to Mason, Lapointe smirking out the window at the setting sun, and Tobi and Peony wearing cloaks and talking to Joe. Our final shot is of six moths dancing around a street lantern — one flies higher than the rest in the shadows, and one, singed by the bulb, tumbles to the ground.


In summary: Lapointe's two apprentices have both been disqualified from the competition, but she's determined to have the future representative in her pocket. To replace her old apprentices, she picks January. After a scuffle with Seiji over her treatment of Sylas, January meets with, and is suckered by, Lapointe. According to Duchess, January will be just like Yvette.

Tropes

  • Abusive Parents: Sylas' dad responded to Sylas quitting the competition by refusing to acknowledge his existence.
    Sylas: Do you know what my dad said to me when he came home? NOTHING. He didn't say anything! He wouldn't even look at me! I already know he'll never be proud of me but he acted like I don't exist. Ugh! It'd be better if I didn't exist!
  • Angry Collar Grab: When January pushes Seiji past his breaking point, he accosts her by grabbing her shirt and yelling in her face.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Lapointe to January, twice. The first time she asks why Seiji isn't with her... because she wanted him to know he was getting replaced. The second time she mentions she's heard about January contributing to Sylas dropping out of the contest, and asks if she bullied him. When January guiltily responds that she told him to do them a favor and choose himself, Lapointe remarks that he certainly did.
  • Call-Back:
  • Can't You Read the Sign?: Please no parkour.note 
  • Character Overlap: Derry and Ophelia reappear at the beginning, and Matthew shows up again halfway through the chapter.
  • Crystal Ball: The seeker stone Derry uses to scry on the island.
  • Dropped Glasses: January kicks Seiji in the cheek, knocking his glasses clean off his face and onto the pavement.
  • Evil Mentor: Lapointe.
  • Family Theme Naming: The Singh kids: January, Fred, Mark, Abel, and Mason.note 
  • Faux Affably Evil: Lapointe. She's a deeply unpleasant person, but puts up a friendly demeanor to lure January in.
  • First-Name Basis: Lapointe uses this to make January feel special — after she's spent their meeting verbally steamrolling January, setting her on edge, and disregarding her opinions, she tells her to call her by her first name. It works, and January lets her guard down.
  • Fun Size: Seiji's tantrum about January's behavior briefly renders him as a school-aged child in Rin's eyes.
  • He's Not My Boyfriend: "It's not her fault if your boyfriend's mad at-"
  • Hypocrite: January lectures Fred for picking on their youngest brother, as "he's six and has all the strength of a wet tissue," despite aggressively bullying Sylas. She realizes the hole in her internal logic when Lapointe congratulates her on it, though.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: January incapacitates Seiji with one punch, but kicks him in the face and stomps on him while he's down.
  • Meaningful Echo: "You just hang out with him as a joke, right?"
  • Motor Mouth: January speculating about what Rin and Lapointe want with her in the guard station.
    January: [giggling] So! What’s the situation? I thought it was about yesterday, but if you’re here – It’s got to be something super dangerous and important, right? You need my help with a robbery? A murder? A global conspiracy?
    Rin: Magister Lapointe has requested a meeting with you.
    January: HUH? Oh man, oh my gosh, oh man. Lapointe? The magister Lapointe? Are you kidding? She wants to see me? Me? What does it mean? Am I in trouble? Is she promoting me? I’m kind of freaking out!!
  • Muggle Born of Mages: Fred, the second-oldest Singh child, is the only member of January's immediate family who doesn't have magic.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Sylas has been holding in a great deal of stress, mostly from the pressure to win the representative competition, and when Seiji clumsily tries to cheer him up, he snaps, accusing him of only being his friend as a joke.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Rin. Even though her position would allow her to simply order people around, she always provides a compelling reason to do what she says that doesn't rely on her authority. Even when chiding Seiji on his misbehavior, she trusts him to understand why what he did was wrong, doesn't try to force him to tell her anything he doesn't want to, and makes no protest when he storms off in a huff.
  • Say My Name: Friday trying to talk January down from beating up Seiji.
  • Silent Treatment: How Sylas' dad treated him for quitting.
  • Squee!: January's reaction to Rin Soga, and then to Lapointe's sponsorship.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Seiji goes from quietly grilling January to shouting in her face in the span of seconds.
  • Unstoppable Rage: January beating up Seiji. Even though the fight's effectively over when she throws her first punch, in her panic she kicks him twice whenever he tries to get up or say anything. Only Friday repeatedly shouting her name manages to get her to slow down.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Rattled by her confrontation with Seiji, January's already ashamed of how she's been treating Sylas. Lapointe telling her Sylas deserved it only drives the point home further.
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