Hyobu Kyousuke was a lot of what Kaoru had always wanted. He went where he wanted, did what he wanted, and answered to no one. It was a freedom that Kaoru, bound in limiters and watched all the time, could only envy. Things were better, now, since Minamoto had taken over caring for the Children, but she still sometimes chafed even under his gentle-handed rule.

And he was powerful - more powerful than the Children, maybe more powerful than the Director. And he wanted them to be strong, too. He wanted them to be saviors for all espers, everywhere. Kaoru loved her powers. She loved using them, loved the feeling of strength, the surety of purpose they gave her. And so she couldn't help but love Hyobu a little, too.

Whatever else he was - terrorist and rebel and stuff - she couldn't shake the certainty that he was on her side, though not BABEL's. He was capricious and petty and would go to truly ridiculous lengths just to screw with Minamoto and the rest of BABEL. But she remembered his voice telling them that they - the Children - were the reason he was alive. How could you not give a guy who said stuff like that a little piece of your heart?

She knew that she could achieve greatness with Kyousuke and PANDRA; she could be their savior, someday. Their Queen. Something inside of her, some aspect of her power she couldn't consciously tap, was for the betterment of espers everywhere. She could feel it, bone-deep surety.

Minamoto, though… Minamoto was like some kind of surrogate big brother, father, mother, boyfriend and the funnest toy she'd ever had all in one.

Her relationship with her mom and sister had been a little different since that kidnapping attempt, but they were still super flakes. It was Minamoto who was always there for the Children, day in and day out. She got what Sakaki was talking about when he told Shiho how lucky they were to have Minamoto, how much the psychic doctor wished he'd had someone like that when he was their age, she really did. He was a gift, to everyone he met. People responded to him, even people who didn't want to, like Mio. He believed in espers - more than that, he believed in people. That there was goodness in everyone. He believed it so strongly that he made them believe it themselves. Even the 'untamable, demonic Children.'

He wanted to save everyone, espers and normals alike. Whatever Kyousuke said, she was sure to the core of her being that he would never betray the Children, unless they betrayed him first. Maybe not even then.

If it wasn't for him - and the Chief, and Kashiwagi, too - she could see how she would have come to hate normals, just like PANDRA.

Even if they regularly sharpened their claws on him (and level seven espers had very sharp claws, indeed), they loved him with all the fierce devotion of three lonely children who had never had a real friend besides themselves, isolated by their powers practically from the moment of their birth.

She didn't know what the Children were on the road to becoming, she did not know the future. Kaoru was very much a creature of the here and now. But she knew she had to drink in all the joy that she had right now with Minamoto and Shiho and Aoi and the rest of BABEL, store it up, a reservoir of warmth and understanding and love.

Just in case.