I slowly opened my eyes at his words. Then, Kalisten with an ascetic appearance was looking at me.
“I have never seen you look so clean.”
He seemed a little taken aback by my remark.
“Is that all you have to say?”
“Uh? Well…er— I didn’t see anything!”
With a subtle look in his eye, and a stiffened jaw he looked at me. After a moment he opened his mouth again,
“Let’s head back.”
It’s unusual to be out at dawn, nevermind alone with someone—in the showers, together, of all places.
“…Could you stop battling with the researchers?”
When we were about to arrive at his room, I told him what was on my mind without thinking.
“I hate it when you get hurt. As I said before, I want to get along with you.”
So it’s hard for you to destroy the lab and kill me.
If possible, could you just destroy this place and let me go?
I looked into his eyes as if making a wish.
His rigid jaw at my explanation abeted and with a soft, solemn countenance he ambivalently said:
“I’ll think about it.”
Maybe Kalisten listened to my request? Because when I arrived to feed him, there
was nothing but a restraint hanging around his neck.
However, his eyes looked very cloudy because of the arousal inducing drugs.
He looked up in response to my call. But when he met my eyes it felt like he didn’t really see me and was seeing something else.
Esper abilities were uncovered only with a ‘catalyst’ spurred by a stimulant—here in the lab it was often of the drug variety.
The problem was that high grades like Kalisten did not manifest with most stimuli.
A-ranks like myself often expressed useless abilities even if we manifested. Instead, our awakenings were not difficult. A few were even luckier, sometimes their rank changed as their magic increased.
It was why those of us that were rated A and without powers were not immediately discarded.
Among the A-class I had interacted with, there had been a person who developed the ability to erase graffiti. If someone wrote something on paper with a pen, he could erase it.
Since his abilities made it possible to remove stains from clothes he moved to the laundry room cleaning researchers’ gowns.
Everytime he pitifully called my name, the empathy I felt grew larger.
Still, he didn’t seem to be in as much pain as before, after his rebellions.
“Do you want to feed me or do you want to eat alone?”
Kalisten looked troubled and anxious. Although his hands were free now, his state was clouded with drugs.
“I want to feed you, Kalisten,”
I said to protect his self-esteem.
he agreed disjointedly. I grabbed the tray and sat close to him. Then he moved away.
I laughed out loud involuntarily.
“I got something delicious today.”
“Today is sweet potato salad.”
I teased him since last time he hated sweet potatoes the most.
I blinked at him blankly because oddly I thought I saw him smiling.
He also looked at me blankly.
His black hair was neatly pulled over today. And the lab uniform he was wearing was the same from what he had changed into yesterday. There was no blood.
“….How close are you?”
“Umm, sometimes we help each other out. Come to think of it, he looked fine when we retrieved the food earlier. So don’t worry.”
“I don’t worry.”
“Right, of course,”
I appeased his retort as if he was being a shy six year old that was too embarrassed to admit he was worried about someone and began absentmindedly stroking his hair. I realized what I was doing in the middle of petting him and froze but he was quietly and calmly accepting my touch.
It hit me how immensely this narcotic was affecting him.
“Shall we eat now?”
I scooped out the sweet potato salad and handed it to him. Then, he took it with a blank face. It felt like feeding a bird. As I watched him chew it slowly, I admired the view.
His neck was thick.
His collarbone below was straight, with broad, squarely framed, strong shoulders.
What a muscular body.
Without realizing it, my thoughts fell into a strange place.
I should get up.
But he grabbed my hand with the spoon as I was about to move, startling me. The plate I placed on my thigh had already been grabbed and set aside.
How was he so quick while high?
He leaned against me and rested his head on my shoulder.
“Strange. When I’m with you, I feel calm.”