"Fufufufun! How was it! I appeared like a hero when you were in a pinch!"
"If I didn't ask Chairman to release my collar, I wonder what would've happened to you〜?"
"Ohho〜 what's up with that attitude. Why are you looking with such a lukewarm expression at the benefactor who saved your life〜?"
After the battle ended, Ouka was receiving treatment in a Seelie vehicle, and Mari blatantly demanded thanks from her.
Ouka's expression said that she won't acknowledge it, and a feeling of being genuinely annoyed swirled in her heart.
Mari puffed up more and more seeing it.
"That's because you're useless! Speaking of which, who went to the Chairman's car?'
"How is it? Being saved by magic which you hate so much?"
As Ouka made a dissatisfied expression, Mari puffed up her chest looking completely full of herself.
"Now, you can finally understand the greatness of this Mari-sama right? Shall we end the feud between us now? However, you need to call me Mari-sama from now——"
"Shut up you fuel tank!"
"——F-fueh... what did you say?!"
"Aren't you a fuel tank! You just delivered some magic power to Kusanagi! Why are you acting so bossy, you damn red plastic tank!"
"M-m-my magic power isn't kerosene!"
"Being a gasoline stand is perfect for you!"
"It's not gasoline either——!"
Ouka could no longer bear without fighting back, and it turned into a quarrel after all.
The Seelies who were providing the treatment, genuinely wanted to interfere.
"...those guys, they can't get along even at a time like this."
After he finished reporting to Chairman, Takeru came back and smiled wryly seeing them act like usual.
"Oh? Speaking of which, where did Usagi go?"
He tried looking around, but he couldn't find her figure.
Maybe she was receiving treatment somewhere, or she was helping out the Seelies.
Just when he was about to move his legs to look for Usagi, he found another one of his comrades.
He moved towards Ikaruga who was sitting on top of the rubble and looked at Ouka and Mari.
Ikaruga who was spacing out, saw Takeru's face.
"Didn't you receive treatment?"
"...I can treat my body myself."
Takeru went behind Ikaruga and sat with his back against hers.
"You're not joining them?"
"I don't feel like it. This sight calms me down."
It felt like she was still spacing out.
As if the place she belongs to was far away, and she stared in the distance towards it.
In her hand, she was carefully holding a small beat-up picture book. On the cover of the picture book, there was was a parent and a child holding hands.
Ikaruga lightly stroked that picture.
"...I have acquired a goal that will allow me to fight as well."
Hearing her murmur that, Takeru placed his fingers on her head.
"If you have a goal... say it properly next. We're not completely useless after all."
As he stroked her head, Ikaruga revealed a surprised face. She looked behind herself, and stared at Takeru.
Next, she moved her face close enough to actually kiss him.
"Woaah, w-www-what's is it?"
"What's this? Hey, what's this?"
"What do you mean by... what?"
"Why did you pat my head I wonder?"
"Ah... this is, it's with a meaning of 'well done'."
"Out there, there's a lot of women who hate their heads being patted you know?"
"Aa...I-I see. I guess. Sorry, that was insensitive."
"It was so clumsy I'll sue you for sexual harassment."
He retracted his hand in a hurry and looked at Ikaruga apologetically.
Ikaruga looked at Ouka and Mari disappointed for a moment, and then,
"...fine then, pat me more."
With her back turned to Takeru, she said such a thing.
"Come to think of it I've never had my head patted before, so pat me more."
He didn't really understand and didn't retort afraid of blundering, so he started to stroke her head again.
He twisted his body in a weird way and patted her head from behind.
It was surreal sight, Takeru stared at her.
He kept doing that for a while, he stroked Ikaruga's head.
Since there was no reaction coming from her, he glanced at her from the side.
Ikaruga still looked spaced out, staring at Ouka and Mari.
But a single droplet drew a line on her cheek.
Surprised, Takeru's expression stiffened, and he immediately released the hand he was patting her with and returned to his original posture.
Ikaruga said she failed.
Takeru didn't know what happened to Ikaruga.
What she has lost, or how much did it meant for her.
Even so, he of course chose to be on his own again.
Ikaruga rested her back on his and said.
"...the talk about carrying burdens, I know that you hate it."
"But if you at least lean on me sometimes, I think that would be alright."
"I might not be able to shoulder your sins."
Ikaruga remained silent.
Despite that, Takeru continued.
"So at least let me shoulder your tears."
Immediately after he made his resolution,
*sssh*... he felt something warm on his back.
"...I'm not crying, idiot."
Ikaruga entrusted her back to him.
Under the morning sky's glow, the two of them continued to stay silent.
It wasn't heavy, but it wasn't light either.
Even though it wasn't half, or even a third, Ikaruga certainly entrusted her weight to Takeru.
With a bitter smile, Takeru looked up at the morning glow.
The weight he felt on his back, just this time, felt strangely good.
AntiMagic Academy, Seelie hospital.
In this place, which provided the cutting edge medical care, there were many patients receiving treatment after being injured with magic.
There was a hospice gathering of critically ill patients, almost all patients there were people with no chance for recovery.
In the intensive care unit lighted by warm daylight, Kirigaya Kyouya has come to visit Yoshimizu Akira's close while sitting on a wheelchair.
Kyouya looked frustrated as she continued to sleep.
Every day, it was his daily route to spend time here until sunset. The possibility of Yoshimizu's survival was only about twenty percent.
It was a body replica subjected to rapid growth, her life was short. Her resistance that was part of human nature was also below half of the original.
Akira remained asleep on the bed of ICU that was separated by a glass window. There were a lot of tubes inside, and her bluish face didn't budge. The only way to confirm she was alive, is the fact that the respirator's mask was clouded with white.
Even if she survived, it would be impossible for her to live a normal life.
She was a clone. The original Yoshimizu Akira was already dead.
Her family wouldn't accept a duplicate, Inquisition didn't publicly acknowledge her existence either. If her family refuses to accept her, she will have to spend her entire life hidden in this hospital. She will have no choice but to live all alone with a weakened body.
No matter what, she couldn't attain happiness.
Guilt and hatred for the necromancer, was unbearably frustrating for Kyouya.
"I... couldn't save... even a single comrade...!"
He clenched his fists in anger, and although he wanted to stomp with his feet, there were no feet to use for that.
Taking revenge aside, he couldn't even walk.
The regret raged in him.
He wondered if he will stay like this forever, living with this hatred inside of him. Was there a meaning to such a life?
Anger disappears from his pupils, and he sunk into despair again.
*gyuu*, the intensive care unit's door opened.
He looked towards it disappointed, and there was,
"Heey, Kirigaya-kun. Visiting today as well? How admirable."
AntiMagic Academy's Chairman, Ootori Sougetsu. He held flowers in his hand.
Kyouya didn't answer, and returned his gaze towards Akira again.
"I can understand your sorrow. I too once lost all my comrades at once. It's no wonder you sank into despair."
"But in that condition, it's like Yoshimizu-kun was already dead, she won't get up."
While putting the flowers in the treatment room, Sougetsu spoke words of comfort to Kyouya.
Kyouya didn't react to them.
Sougetsu smiled bitterly, stood behind Kyouya and put a hand on his shoulder.
"You see, revenge... doesn't produce anything. Living on just hatred is sad. You need to walk facing forward."
Reacting to Sougetsu's words, Kyouya's body slightly trembled.
"...ha...I can't walk, I have no legs."
He gripped the hem of his clothes and lamented his lack of feet.
Kyouya lost both of his legs in that fight. A modern prosthesis could be made, but he will never enjoy the feel of the ground again.
His anger overflowed.
"I don't believe that revenge doesn't produce anything... for the sake of my dead comrades, for Yoshimizu's sake, I won't say such a nice thing...! I, with all my sadness and hatred I want to beat the shit out of that son of a bitch! I want him to taste the same feeling! That's all!"
"Other than that——there's nothing else I want!"
With tears in his eyes, he embraced the rage.
Sougetsu stared at him as he was like that,
——While smiling like a Cheshire cat.
"Hey, Kirigaya-kun. If you want your revenge that much, why don't I lend you a hand."
He brought his lips close to Kyouya's ear, and whispered with voice like a bell.
"Don't you want power?"
"For the sake of revenge, a tremendous strength."
Kyouya stared at Akira, and opened his eyes wide. The color of his pupils was stained red by all of his negative emotions.