Epilogue

"So you're really going, huh?"

Yuuta turned around and saw that Echizen was leaning against the side of the building, dressed in civilian clothes and scowling. "Yeah, I am."

Echizen screwed his face up even more. "It's stupid."

Yuuta waited, but he didn't clarify whether he thought the decision to go was stupid, or the rules that had forced it were. Upon reflection, Yuuta decided it didn't much matter. "Whatever, Echizen. Here to talk me out of it?"

Echizen rolled his eyes. "If Shuusuke couldn't talk you into staying, it's not like I'd be able to either." He pushed away from the side of the building, digging into a pocket. "Here. This is yours."

Yuuta looked down at the hand Echizen was thrusting at him, and shook his head. "I can't take that."

Echizen kept holding out his Seishun badge. "It's yours. You earned it fair and square."

"Gave it up fair and square, too," Yuuta reminded him. Echizen's hand didn't budge, though, and finally he gave in and took it. "What is this, a souvenir?"

Echizen shrugged. "It's yours. You figure it out." He stuffed his hands in his pockets and started back inside. "Try not to get yourself killed before you do."

Yuuta curled his fingers around the badge and began to smile for the first time that afternoon. "Yeah, yeah. Hey, take care of Aniki for me, will you?"

Echizen paused and grinned back at him. "What do you think they hired me for in the first place?" he asked.

"I always wondered about that." Yuuta tucked his badge in a pocket. "See you around, Echizen."

Echizen waved a hand at him and ducked inside. Yuuta watched the door swing shut behind him, hoisted the backpack on his shoulder a little higher, and set off down the sidewalk.

He'd figure out where he was going when he got there.

end