It was Felix who silenced us.
“Come to think of it, researcher. Last time I heard you stole some money from the research institute? I heard that the warden is still on the lookout for the rat that bit into his budget.”
“What? Where do you hear this rumor?”
“It’s not regarding rumors, it’s about asking with certainty.”
“The lab pharmaceuticals. Didn’t you secretly sell them? And you siphoned off grade Z’s research fund, right? Researcher Martin.”
Felix glanced at me and Kalisten as if seeing something funny, then sighed and continued,
“Shall we send those two to wash up so we can talk?”
“Is that a threat?”
“Yes, it is a threat. Will you follow me or not? If I don’t get breakfast tomorrow morning, other researchers will clean up my room. Then they will find a note with evidence of Researcher Martin’s corruption.”
It was shocking that such unpredictable words flowed out of his mouth, but what was also startling was that he helped me.
“You’re tasking us to bathe him to erase traces of being beaten, um?”
“Give the key to him and follow me.”
Felix pointed to me with his chin. The researcher glared at him furiously and put his hand in the pocket of his lab coat. Then there seemed to be a ‘clicking’ sound, and something hard fell to the floor.
Felix remarked as if judging him, and went ahead.
I couldn’t even manage a complete breath until I confirmed that the two completely disappeared. Then after taking a deep breath a dam broke inside of me I started ugly crying uncontrollably.
“Ugh… S-sorry… Uhhhhhhhh nnnn… .”
I didn’t have the courage to see his face, so I hugged him tighter, but for some reason he didn’t resist.
How many minutes have passed? He didn’t say anything until I calmed down.
“Yes, sir… .”
“Now get off of me.”
I slowly fell off of him, trying not to make eye contact.
He had a subtle expression on his face.
“A-are you alright?”
“I don’t think you should ask that right now.”
Kalisten was regarding me as he would a bizarre creature. Nonetheless, his countenance was somewhat softer than when I first saw him.
“Are you an idiot?”
It seemed like he was trying to say something insulting, so I admitted it without reservation. Then I got up and laughed.
“Did you go crazy? Why are you laughing?”
“Still, you weren’t beaten.”
“I’ve already been plenty beaten before you came.”
“Ah, yes, you’re right… .”
I also knew that it was a situation where I shouldn’t laugh, but I couldn’t help it from the release of tension and overwhelming relief that he didn’t go berserk. I slowly picked up the key from the floor and released the restraints on his arms, waist and legs.
There was a power-blocking necklace hanging from his neck.
With that on him, he can’t use his powers, no matter how great of a psychic he is.
Grades A and B like me don’t wear them. Since there was no need to wear it, the research institute’s budget was saved.
It was the same for those who had already fully awakened and were in charge of external missions. They don’t need the ability blocking necklaces.
Awakened Espers will die if they don’t take the tranquilizers supplied by the lab.
Once awakened, one will be forever subordinated to the laboratory anyway.
A dog that’s already on a leash won’t need another leash.
“It’s Kalisten, my name.”
I started to tear up realizing he told me his name first. So I smiled broadly to hide it.
“Kalisten. I’m Aselia.”
He rose up from his seat with a heavy breath. I got up following him, since he started walking in the lead. Perhaps he had no pangs on his legs, since he was walking casually.
“What is your relationship with him?”
“Oh, Felix? A friend.”
I didn’t know for sure if he was my friend, but he saved me this time.
“Do you like men?”
“Then is that why you like me too?”
Walking ahead, he stopped. Perhaps because of his large back, it gave the illusion of grandeur so that even his shabby research clothes looked regal.
“I just like you, Kalisten. You as a person.”
Then he looked back at me. With an expression I had never seen before.