Akira had to stay in the hospital until the treatment for his lost arm was done. It took about three days to grow his new arm. On the first day, Kibayashi came to visit him with Arabe.
Seeing Akira cock his head the moment he came in, Kibayashi could not hold back his amused smile.
“Geez, that was cold. Although Im here to give you a hospital visit, theres no need to be that prickly, you know.”
“Then why are you smiling like that”
“Well, thats because youre as reckless as always.”
“Its not like Im doing it because I want to. Are you here just to ask me about that”
“Thats right, or so I want to say, but before that, business comes first. Let me introduce you, this is Arabe from Drankam.”
Arabe politely bowed to Akira.
“I am Arabe. Im sorry to come here so suddenly, I asked Kibayashi to introduce me to you because theres something I want to discuss with you regarding the recent incident. Nice to meet you.”
Akira was rather wary since he thought that he would get an earful of complaints after killing Katsuya. But seeing that Arabe did the opposite, Akira was at loss on what to do. That was when Kibayashi suddenly interjected.
“Before you guys start talking about your business with Drankam, Ill give you a short explanation of what is going on. What happened during the large scale expedition, and what happened while you were out cold. After all, it wont make any sense unless we let you know all about that first.”
Although Akira was still struggling to follow the unexpected turn of events, it was also true that he wanted to know more. So he decided to just listen quietly to Kibayashis explanation.
The Hunters in the expedition were thrown into chaos when Tsubaki suddenly jammed most forms of communication. But fortunately, the Hunters who joined the expedition were skilled. Although not all of them were that skilled, they were still at least able to work smoothly within their respective team. As such, normally, communication jamming would not cause such chaos.
But Tsubaki prepared something else to stir the pot. She had some Hunters paid to attack other Hunters, a team to attack another team, Hunters betraying their own team. And as the cherry on top, she also prepared Tiol to attack the Hunters. With all of these going off in one go, the situation was quickly thrown into utter chaos.
Among that chaos, Hunters were attacked by their teammates when in reality, those teammates were just look-alikes. They were old-world monsters modified with familiar faces thanks to Yatsubayashi.
When Hunters managed to establish a communication line with them through the close-range connection, what they would hear was filled with screams and gunshots. Tsubaki also lured monsters to clash with City Managements powered suits. Of course, the line of command that was already established immediately went down under that situation.
Of course, there were also some Hunters who pretended to be working with Tsubaki only to leak that information to those on City Managements side. Unfortunately, that information was completely useless. The long-term planning division already knew that some people made deals with the caretaker AI, so they did not pay much attention to them. Moreover, the information these Hunters gave was mostly useless and had questionable sources. Those who were betrayed also noticed that through their information terminal right before the jamming.
Some of the Hunters tried to send that information to HQ the moment they noticed it. However before they could do it, long-range communication to HQ was already down. Furthermore, these people were the first targets to be killed under Tsubakis orders.
With all the ensuing chaos, it was difficult to deal with the situation using teamwork. Thus, Hunters began to drop like flies and the death count reflected it. The beguiling ghost that tempted Hunters to betray each other, it was big enough of a tragedy for such an urban legend to be born.
After all these deaths, Yanagisawa managed to form a truce with Tsubaki. Moreover, City Management released an order that prohibited any form of retaliation, which would most likely stem from grudges. This applied between Hunters, to City Management, and to the ruins caretaker as well.
There were Hunters who betrayed their own team, there were also some Hunters who got killed because of misunderstandings. If they seek revenge, either targeting their other fellow Hunters, or going to the ruin once again to exact their revenge on Tsubaki, both would only serve to increase the body count. So in order to prevent that, City Management dispatched a squad to put the expedition area under a tight lock-down.
Kibayashi gave a short explanation to Akira. Although, since it was not like Kibayashi knew everything and was only able to give a quick overview of the situation, it was enough to make Akira frown.
Akira then noticed something that piqued his interest.
“You did say that City Management dispatched the squad to guard the expedition area in order to prevent more unnecessary deaths, right But isnt it because they have another reason behind that”
“Hm Well, its not 100% a lie, but well, basically, they can use that to mask their other reason. Of course, its all just my guess though, so dont take it too seriously if you still want to hear more.”
Akira understood that Kibayashi was actually baiting him to say yes there, but even so, Akira still decided to take that bait.
“In that case, can you promise me to take Arabes business in a positive way”
“Even if I havent heard what this business might be”
In contrast to how Akira negatively reacted to what he just said, Kibayashi just chuckled and casually said.
“Its not like Im telling you to throw yourself into more danger without any reason. I just want you to take it positively in exchange for telling you my guess. Its fine if you dont want to do that as well. Its nothing that serious.”
“Well, if its only that much.”
By acting as if it was nothing serious, Kibayashi was able to pressure a high ranking Hunter to accept a talk that he had not known yet. Arabe who realized that could not help but feel a bit of fear.
“Let me preface it with this, its all just my guess. City Management went as far as dispatching soldiers to guard the place, so one thing for sure, its something huge. They must have struck a deal with the ruins side.”
“Ah, I see, so thats what it is, huh. So theyre planning to gather Chrome next, right”
Akira was able to come up with such a guess thanks to all the things that he had learned. But his guess said with confidence was quickly shot down.
“No. Its just my guess, but the deal might have been done in Aurum.”
“Aurum But the ruins caretaker doesnt have Aurum, right”
“Correct. Thats why the payment is done through selling trash and other unnecessary relics from the ruin to City Management by putting a price on them. And then the caretaker AI would use that Aurum to pay for the expense of guarding the lockdown. So basically the caretaker AI is paying for the defence of their area. While on the other hand, City Management would be able to earn money from this as well. So, to put it simply, this means that Kugamayama city managed to strike a deal so that it can buy old-world relics with Aurum which is a corporation-issued currency instead of using Chrome.”
Kibayashis expression turned serious.
“Do you understand just how big this is Its extremely ecstatic news for Saka**a Heavy Industry that issues Aurum. It ushers a new wave of support for the corporation and itll gather everyone around Kugamayama city who is seeking old-world relics. Obviously, itll bring a huge influx of money. Its unimaginable just how much profit this will bring. And at the centre of this development is that deal with the caretaker AI. Meanwhile, the main player who acts as the bridge between City Management and that ruin is Commander Yanagisawa. I bet no one in Kugamayama city can go against him now. Although I have to admit, its weird why someone of such calibre is in this city in the first place.”
Akira raised his eyebrows and was obviously surprised.
“Is that really amazing Being able to negotiate with a ruins AI.”
“Yeah, its way more amazing than you can even imagine. Though it also depends on how well that person handles the negotiation. Its amazing enough for the Corporate Government to scout them and place them as executives in one of the 5 top corporations main HQ. Ah, by the way, there are many AI in the ruins. Business AIs are easier to handle. Theyre more open to deals, well, theyre made for business after all. Many of them are willing to make deals with just anyone as long as they have the funds to pay it. Some of them are even willing to barter in case their negotiation partner does not carry currency with them. But the caretaker AIs work under completely different principles. Many of them focused more on killing intruders, thanks to that, its almost impossible to make a deal with any of them. But that just means how precious it is to be able to make a deal with one of them. After all, if youre lucky, you can get yourself involved in the old-world government.”
Akira gave a light nod, it seems that he was able to understand just how amazing it was. Seeing that, Kibayashi gave a satisfied smile and cut his talk short.
“Thats all from me for now. Well then, Arabe-san will take over from here.”
Arabe nervously started with an opening.
“Let me introduce myself once again, Im Arabe from Drankam. Im here today to discuss a peace treaty with Akira-san.”
Akira pulled his head back out of surprise.
“P-Peace treaty, arent you exaggerating this too much”
“Theres no need to be that surprised. Drankam has no wish to be hostile against you. Just think of it as Drankams way to convey the same.”
Arabe tried his best to maintain his best amicable smile.
“It is as Kibayashi-san just explained, weve also received a notice to stop any infighting between Hunters because of the mess that happened during the expedition. Although were still investigating the details, weve confirmed that a misunderstanding between the Hunters under our gang had caused you immense trouble. So in order to avoid letting that spark turn into more conflict, weve prepared a peace treaty document through the Hunter Office. Please carefully read through the document and sign it if youre okay with it.”
Akira took the document that Arabe offered. But just like usual, it was filled with small dense letters as if it was not written for reading. So he took his usual move which was to rely on Alpha.
“Although it contains even the tiniest details, its basically just a normal peace treaty.”
“Are you sure it doesnt have any difficult hidden clause or something that stipulates me having to pay a huge fine if I broke the treaty Or maybe other weird clauses”
“I dont find anything like that.”
With this, Akira confirmed that it was a proper peace treaty. But he still found it a bit too much.
“Arabe-san, as I said, theres no need to go this far, you know. Or more like, with the notice from City Management not to fight, I dont see there being any need to make this peace treaty…”
Akira did kill Katsuya and a lot of his teammates, so it would not be weird if someone from Drankam attempted to kill him. Because of that, he thought that Arabes offer was too good to be true. He just could not help but to get suspicious that there were strings attached to it.
Arabe replied with a smile, but behind that smile, he was thinking hard about what to say. The silence continued since he could not think of any good argument, which only served to increase Akiras suspicion. Kibayashi, who noticed it, finally decided to intervene.
“To put it simply, Drankam is gathering documents to shut particular people up.”
“Drankam received quite a large loan from the city. Thats why they receive a lot of complaints when something goes wrong. Something likeif only they had properly followed the words of their sponsors, and thats also the case this time. After getting into conflict with a high ranking Hunter which ended up with so many deaths, the sponsors are questioning if they can believe a simple unwritten promise or even a treaty written on a single leaf of paper by City Management. Thats why Drankam had to even go to the Hunter Office to prepare this peace treaty. That way, those people from City Management wont have any complaints.”
Akira nodded in understanding.
“I see, so thats the reason, huh.”
“If I may add something, its actually a good offer for you too. Drankam has no wish to pick a fight with you, but of course, its not like everyone in the gang is happy with that. You did kill quite a lot of them after all. So then, if any of them come after you, you can use that peace treaty and send a complaint to Drankam. Im sure Drankam would get desperate and deal with it swiftly. As a Hunter gang, if news spreads of it ignoring a peace treaty made through the Hunter Office, it will cause damage that endangers the integrity of the whole organization. To top it off, theyll recognize you as someone who could deal with problems calmly and rationally. There are many people who think of Hunters as nothing but thugs, so its important to build a good reputation. Your reputation will get better especially when it has a case to use for reference.”
Kibayashi then took a short pause as his expression turned even more serious.
“And also, one more thing, Akira. Its about time you stop looking down on yourself. I know its something left over from your days back in the slums where everyone looked down on you. But you should throw away that view already. No matter what your past is, no one questions the fact that youre a high-ranking Hunter right now. I bet youre thinking why someone would come to you with such a document, but from a normal persons point of view, they dont want to get into a fight with you even if it means they have to go through all the trouble preparing a document like this. Its not like Im telling you to make a 180-degree change, but at least stop looking down on yourself. It brings nothing but trouble both for you and the people around you. It will only give them more reason to misunderstand you, you know.”
Akira sent a serious gaze to Kibayashi, then to Arabe, before finally to the document on his hand. As he gained new self-confidence, he put his name on the treaty and returned it back to Arabe.
“Thank you very much. Now then, I need to return back and take care of the administration regarding this matter. So please allow me to excuse myself.”
“Akira, Im heading back too. Its really unfortunate that I dont have the time to listen to your reckless story, but Im pretty busy, you see. Until we meet again.”
Arabe politely bowed to Akira while Kibayashi lightly waved his hand as both left the room.
Akira looked at a copy of the treaty for his safe-keeping with a deep thought as he mumbled.
“…I guess Ive become pretty strong, huh”
Alpha smiled proudly and stated.
“Its nothing to be surprised about since I train you myself. But still, dont get satisfied yet, okay”
Akira gave a light smile, it was the smile of someone who had recognized and accepted his strength.
Arabe was walking down the hospital hallway as he sighed in relief.
“Kibayashi. I really owe you one.”
“Just so you know, its not for free. As a matter of fact, it is not a cheap favour, okay”
“I know. We did not have to pay for the damages and were able to sign a peace treaty even after that much fighting. Its a really huge help.”
Arabe did say that Drankam was still investigating the details of the incident, but in reality, there were points and facts that Drankam had already confirmed.
City Management gathered all the Hunters from the expedition area regardless if they were alive or not and took the data from their information-gathering devices in order to help the investigation. Moreover, they also received data regarding the incident from Tsubaki via Yanagisawa. With all of this data, they were able to get a precise and accurate picture of what had happened.
Drankam received a piece of that investigation result and understood what had happened during the conflict between Akira and Katsuyas team. Arabe could not help but sigh when he remembered those details.
“Although there is a lot of restricted information, its confirmed that Katsuyas team attacked Akira due to a misunderstanding. We wont have any argument to fight back if he demands compensation. In the worst-case scenario, Viola might get her hands on this matter as well. It wont end up well for the gang. But now, we got him to sign a peace treaty recognized by the Hunter office before that happened. With this, well be able to suppress the damage to a minimum. This alone is a huge help for us… It was a huge surprise that Akira did not ask for any compensation. I wonder if hes one of those Hunters who dont really care about money.”
Kibayashis lips curled up in a rather menacing smile.
“Hes my favourite Hunter, after all, a reckless Hunter. He might prefer to exchange favours using life instead of money.”
“Good grief, give me a break…”
It was not rare for failed negotiation with a Hunter to break into a fight. In the end, power was everything in the eastern district. Although the negotiation took place outside the wasteland, that line of thinking holds true as long as it was outside the city wall. Not a small number of corporations were brought to the brink of bankruptcy after making a huge mistake during a negotiation with a high ranking Hunter. Of course, they were able to repel that Hunter, but the sacrifice was not small.
Arabe could not help but to rub his temples when he imagined just how much death it would cause if Akira decided to attack Drankam. Seeing that, Kibayashi was happy since it seemed that Arabe understood just how big he owed him. Thus, Kibayashi decided to change the subject.
“So then, how is Drankam right now With that huge debt to me, it would be such a waste if the gang crumbles and cant pay it back.”
“To be honest, its a huge mess. The effect of Katsuyas death is huge. Although this might sound weird, most of the officers including me, never thought that he would die like that. Some of them even got long-term contracts under the assumption that Katsuya would not die. And with his death, all of those turned into dust. Hes a Hunter, it was not strange for him to die anytime. Although it was so obvious, I wonder why no one expected it at all…”
Getting ahead of themselves, getting too optimistic, was completely normal for Hunters. Even so, planning for the worst was a given as well, Arabe thought it was weird how no one was prepared for the worst-case scenario. Kibayashi smiled wryly at Arabe and said.
“He even caused Drankam to break into factions, it means that he must have been that talented. I did want to have a good chat with him at least once, but that chance never came until the very end.”
“It would be bad if your reckless loving fetish infects him after all. I bet the officers, especially the people around Mizuha, were actively keeping him away from you. Now that I think about it, it might have been better to let him meet you and get him through some dangerous situations. That way, we wouldnt have placed that much expectation on him. But I guess its all too late now.”
“Well, you should make sure to learn from your mistake for the sake of those who are still alive. Katsuya was loved by many, right Its not rare for those who are unhappy with the situation to still pursue revenge. They might even do so with the peace treaty and Hunters notice from City Management in place. Be extremely careful with this, in the worst-case scenario, the peace treaty might be rendered meaningless, you know”
“Yeah, I know. We went to get Akiras approval first, so were going to use that as a reason to get Katsuyas team to sign a separate peace treaty through the Hunter office. Well kick out any of them who refuse. Their equipment is all provided by the gang. Im sure theyre not stupid enough to go and attack Akira bare-handed. Some of them are still unconscious from exhaustion, so were planning to deal with them one by one.”
Arabe imagined all the work that he had to do from here on and sighed. Kibayashi only smiled, watching how great an effect a Hunter could bring during his life and after his death. It was indeed one of many fascinating things related to Hunters.
On the second day, the doctor who was responsible for Akiras treatment visited him with a large tube in hand. A single arm could be seen floating in the middle of that tube, it was Akiras new arm.
The doctor then changed the setting of Akiras prosthetic to connect his arm stump to the new arm and asked Akira to test how it felt.
Akira was surprised when the sensation from his new arm was sent to his prosthetic. He then proceeded to try to move his arm as he was told to. Although he could feel a time lag between his mind and the new arm, he could more or less move it like normal. He felt a strange sensation seeing an arm that was not connected to his body moving under his will. He tried closing and stretching out his palm, and moving his fingers one by one.
After trying a few things, Akira suddenly thought of trying something. He tried to move different fingers of his detached arm and his prosthetic arm. Although it was difficult at first, he quickly got used to it in no time.
The doctor watched that with fascination. But he quickly returned back to reality and stopped Akira.
“Ah, dont do that! Stop doing something like that! It would cause confusion in your brain once we attach your arm back!”
Akira flusteredly mentally synced back his detached arm with his prosthetic arm. The doctor lightly sighed and stated.
“But still, youre pretty skilled. Normally, its impossible to do that, you know…”
“It had the same feeling as when Im using my augmented suit, so I thought of trying it and somehow actually did it.”
“I see… If youre that skilled, how about you try adding an extra arm Like 2 normal arms plus 2 extra arms that are attached to your augmented suit. We can get you something like that if you want, you know Normally, it would be extremely difficult to learn to control the new arms, but seeing what you did there, I bet it wont be that difficult for you. I actually have an acquaintance who works on that kind of thing, I would be happy to introduce you if you want.”
“Thank you, but no thanks.”
The doctor looked rather disappointed. After returning the prosthetic arm setting, he then left the room together with Akiras new arm.
Akira sighed in relief. Seeing that, Alpha smiled amusedly and asked.
“That was an interesting offer though. Why didnt you like it Dont you think it would be convenient to get 2 more arms”
“Well, it does sound convenient, but if I get too used to four arms with an augmented suit, I feel like it would be bad. I might just start feeling that my original two arms are not enough. In the worst-case scenario, I might end up wishing for more and more arms. I have no complaints with my current two so I have no plans to get more arms anytime soon.”
“Is that so Well, I wont force you though, its a matter of preference after all.”
“Preference, huh. How about you, Alpha You have only 2 arms yourself, right”
“Should I add more”
Akira knew that he would definitely be teased if he said yes. He would most likely have to live with a 4 armed girl every day, so Akira made Alpha seriously stop.
After that, a group of people came to visit Akira. There were people from Sheryls gang, along with Inabe, Viola, Yodogawa, Erio and Shijima. Of course, the only one who came there to check if Akira was okay was Sheryl. While the rest were only there to check if the Hunter supporting Sheryl was still alive or not.
Their visit started with some normal talks, but after that, they let Akira meet each individual in private to talk about business. The first one was Inabe.
Akira joined the large-scale expedition under his request. Regardless of the reason, Akira was not able to finish the request. So he thought that Inabe was here to talk about that. However, contrary to his expectation, Inabe was there to give Akira his connection as a reward for successfully finishing his request.
Akira was extremely surprised by that.
“Well, uh, Im really thankful for the information, but are you sure youre okay with that”
“Yeah, in the first place, these connections will no longer be available to me after such a large-scale expedition failed under my watch. And right now, regardless of the situation, I was saved from that. Although it was completely unexpected, I did send you to danger for my own profit, so you can think of it as an apology from me.”
“Thats quite a large sum for an apology, you know.”
“…Well, its complicated, but I have reasons to be generous to you.”
Inabe sighed and smiled wryly before continuing.
“About the expedition, putting aside who deserves the credit, it actually ended up being a huge success despite all the sacrifices. Do you need more explanation on it”
“No, theres no need. I heard that City Management managed to strike a deal with the ruins caretaker AI to trade with Aurum through someone by the name of Commander Yanagisawa. And I heard that it would no doubt bring in huge profit for the city.”
Inabe raised his eyebrows.
“You even know that too, huh. It seems that you have some other connection to City Management besides me. In that case, you dont need any more explanation, right Basically, the area that is under lockdown by the soldiers dispatched by City Management is under my control. Although Yanagisawa basically has control over the deal made, I also gained a considerable amount of influence as well. Thats why it did not end in a failure. As a matter of fact, its okay to say it was a success. Though I dont like the fact that Im basically working under Yanagisawa now.”
Inabe rubbed his hand on his forehead as if to relax his face that had slowly turned stern. He then sighed as his expression completely returned back to normal.
“Well, so thats what happened. If you say you dont need it, although its not like Im forcing you to take it, you still can keep it. If you still cant accept this form of payment because you feel like you have not completed your request. Well, it might be weird, but theres one thing that you can do for me. Tell Sheryl that youre not angry. After all, I did end up sending you to the hospital. I want to get along well with her as well, so it would be great if you can, you know, pacify her.”
“If its only that, then sure.”
Akira was surprised that Inabe actually thought that much of his connection with Sheryl. But thinking of Sheryls current position, Akira thought that it was nothing strange and just lightly chuckled.
But in reality, Inabe actually did that to keep his connection with Akira. Inabe knew about Akiras battle with Katsuyas team in more detail compared to most people. Having a connection with a Hunter who could crush Drankams rising star alone was a good thing. Moreover, he already noticed that Sheryl could not go against Akira. Considering his plan to gain money through Sheryls gang, he needed to keep an amicable relationship with Akira.
“Thats good to hear, well then, thats all I have for today. I will also tell Kibayashi about the connection I passed to you. I hope that we can keep working together from here and on out.”
Inabe was satisfied with Akiras reply as he left the room after speaking his piece.
Yodogawa was the next one to enter the room. He was there fully for the sake of business.
Akiras badly damaged powered suit was hung inside his hospital room. He was planning to bring that to Shizuka for repair once he was discharged.
But Yodogawa strongly recommended he buy a new augmented suit instead. He was enthusiastically recommending Akira trade his currently broken augmented suit with a new augmented suit from Yodogawas company. He brought up the companys connection with Sheryls gang, a special discount for a high ranking Hunter, and a limited-time campaign to offer an extremely expensive high-quality product of his own company to Akira at an abnormally low price. Yodogawas vigour greatly surprised Akira.
Of course, Yodogawa had a reason for this. To be more precise, it was because of competition. It would be bad for his companys reputation if Akira loved the products of another company; especially when he was the Hunter who demolished an entire team that was using their equipment.
Yodogawas company already knew that Akira crushed Katsuyas team. Although connections were being jammed, which caused the coordination support system to be unable to utilise its full potential, it did not change the fact that Akira, alone, was able to crush them. To top it off, Akira did that while using an augmented suit from a different company.
The recent expedition was filled with a lot of important information. Those with keen insight already knew about Akiras battle against Katsuyas team. Although equipment did not exactly dictate the end result of a battle, it would still play a big role in deciding the victor.
If Akira used equipment from another company and made a deal with said company, then if he said that the coordination support system was nothing special, it would deal a crippling blow to Yodogawas company. On the other hand, if Akira decided to change to his company after that battle, it would be a huge boon for his company.
In order to get over this crisis, Yodogawa did not care about profit or loss as he was trying to get Akira to change his equipment to products from his company no matter what the cost.
Regardless of the reason, Akira only stood to profit from being able to get an expensive product at such a low price. But that was exactly why Yodogawa panicked when Akira refused. With reason simply being that he wanted to buy equipment from the shop that he was familiar with, which caused Yodogawa to panic even more.
“I-in that case, how about ordering via that shop”
“Hmmm, well, to be honest, I want to discuss with Shizuka-san first before deciding which to buy though.”
Akira was insisting on discussing with Shizuka first before ordering any equipment from her shop. Basically, he only bought equipment from the shops that he had a good experience with. The only exceptions would be the equipment that he got through his connection with Kibayashi and Inabe. At the moment, he had no plans to add Yodogawa to that exception.
Yodogawa already knew that trying to bait a Hunter like this would be futile. After all, many of the Hunters decided not to use helmets due to their intuition. Though, it was certainly safer to use one. Against those kinds of Hunters who risk their lives out in the wasteland, money would not be able to overcome their preference.
So Yodogawa decided to withdraw.
“Very well. Its indeed unfortunate, but Ill excuse myself here for today. Do tell me if you change your mind.”
“Ah, sure, thanks, and sorry.”
“Please dont be, its perfectly alright.”
Akira felt that it was rather anti-climatic, but he did not say anything as he watched Yodogawa leave the room. The moment Yodogawa stepped out, the next visitor entered in a rush.
It was Viola and Sheryl. But when Viola brought up the suggestion about asking for compensation from Drankam, Akira told her that he had signed a peace treaty with them already. Hearing that, Viola was so surprised as she said curtly.
“To think that they made their move first, it seems that they have someone pretty skilled with them. Can you tell me the name of the negotiator that Drankam sent”
Akiras answer was short and showed no chance for negotiation. But Viola then gave her usual smile and commented.
“Oh my, youre so cold.”
“Only say that to me again when you mean it. The first thing that you said when you came here was suggesting that I demand compensation.”
“Oh, isnt that exactly because I care for your well-being If you just leave it to me, I can still deal with it somehow, you know”
“Theres no one as desperate to rush to their death as to ask for a favour from you, and if theres one, Im sure theyll kill themselves first before asking for your help.”
In contrast to Akira, who obviously seemed to be in a bad mood, Viola was smiling amusedly.
“Is that so Well, feel free to come to me if you change your mind. Ill do it for cheap. Well then, since it seems that theres nothing more I can do here, Ill excuse myself.”
Viola turned around and walked with a rather uppity stride. Akira saw her leaving the room while thinking, [Does she have another prey to go to]
This was when Akira noticed that Sheryl was sitting next to him while staring at him.
There was a short silence. If they were real lovers, they would have embraced each other or leaned on each other. But Akira did not make any move at all and Sheryl did not have the courage to go any further.
“…It might be a little late, but Im glad that youre okay. Well, I guess youre not really okay, huh”
“Is that so To be honest, I think this is still considered to beok.”
“But, that arm, its prosthetic, right
“Well, it is, but I asked for the regenerative treatment and I should get my new arm tomorrow. The arm is still in its growing phase and Im going to go through surgery tomorrow to attach it back. Today, they brought the new arm and I tried to move it around by connecting it to the prosthetic. It was pretty interesting.”
“So, itll get back to normal Thats great to hear.”
“Yeah, thats why I think this isnt that bad.”
“But its weird for you to be sent to the hospital if youre really okay.”
“Is that so Hmmm, well, other than losing my arm, I was in a way worse condition the last time I was sent to the hospital though. So judging from that comparison, this is not that bad.”
Akira was not trying to look strong, he only said so casually. But Sheryl saw that as how distorted Akiras way of thinking was. He went to face death and many close calls. This normally led to the tragic end of those who saw the thin line between life and death too many times. They got too used to dangers, they stood calmly on top of the cliff that separated life and death. They had no problem peeking down the cliff, knowing that falling down would be fatal. As humans, they were already broken, and Sheryl caught a glimpse of that from watching how Akira responded.
The person who she loved and was the pillar that supported her, continued to stand next to death even now and it was unlikely that would change anytime soon. Moreover, she had no means to stop him. Sheryl had to learn to live with the fear of losing the one that she loved anytime from here on out. She could not handle that anxiety as she inadvertently hugged Akira.
“…Please dont die.”
“Yeah, I dont want to die either after all.”
“…Please dont die.”
“Its fine, dont worry.”
“…Please dont die.”
Sheryls voice was thin as if she was crying. Akira was not sure what to do there but he eventually slowly coiled his arm around her.
Although Sheryl knew that Akira only did it to calm her down, the warmth still soothed her heart.-