[ Saint King Hospital, Northern Mid-Childa / September 29, 0078 21:42 ]


Waking up wasn't painful—just incredibly exhausting. She had to struggle through layers upon layers of viscous soft clouds until she could see a light in front of her. Straining her entire body, she jerked upwards toward it, and the brightness of a neon lamp blinded her.

She found herself lying under a thin blanket, her head propped up by a stiff pillow. Without turning her head, she saw the white ceiling above. She tried to move her hands but her fingers barely twitched. Shifting her gaze down, she spotted a thin plastic tube attached to the inside of her left elbow. I am at a hospital, she realized.

A familiar voice greeted her from her left.

"Are you awake, Tea?"

"Subaru?"

With great effort, she turned her head to the left. Subaru was sitting up on a bed just like hers. The blanket slid off her, revealing a thin medical gown that did little to conceal a mass of bandages wrapped around her chest.

"How is your wound?" Her tongue and lips were almost as limp as her arms, but she managed to get the words out.

"I'm fine," Subaru smiled cheerfully. "Thanks to Tea and Gin-nee."

"You lost so much blood…"

"Gin-nee provided hers for the transfusion," Subaru smiled fondly. "We are the same genetically, so her blood was ideal for me."

"You idiot," Teana let out a sigh of relief. "What the hell were you thinking…"

"You are the one to talk."

"How long have I been out?" Teana changed the subject after a pause.

"Not long. But the doctors kept you asleep for six days to let your brain heal."

Teana jerked upright, her head spinning. She fought back the dizziness.

"What… do I have?"

Subaru gave her a guilty look. Teana felt sick.

"Massive cerebral hemorrhage. The doctors were not sure you will be able to even speak… but you seem to have gotten off easily!"

"You should be thankful to your Device," a quiet voice came from the doorway to her right.

"Shari-san?!"

"Hello, Teana, it's been a long time," Shari smiled as she walked over and sat down on a chair between their beds.

"When did you come back?"

"Soon after the battle."

"And Fate-san?"

Shari's face darkened.

"Fate… is not with us. Yet. More importantly, here you go…"

She put a small orange and silver card next to her hand, and Teana clutched it instinctively. The familiar warmth of Cross Mirage was reassuring.

"I've been maintaining him. You owe him your life, you know."

"I do?"

"Yes. I am not sure you are even aware of all its functions yet," her fingers touched Cross Mirage lightly, conjuring up a menu, which she navigated with familiar nonchalance. "This one in particular is triggered by excessive load on the brain and is responsible for knocking you out, redirecting blood flow, and preventing clotting and several other side effects until the user receives proper medical attention."

Teana's eyebrows went up as she mustered the 3D image of a brain—hers, apparently—projected by her Device.

"I've never heard of Devices having such a function."

"Most don't," Shari nodded sadly. "This one was commissioned after your… training incident."

"By whom…? Oh," Teana looked straight ahead.

"Tea?" As the silence grew longer, Subaru shifted uneasily.

"I'm fine," she said but her lips quivered.

"You better lie down," Shari said softly.

They helped her back down, as she did her best not to let them see her cry. Even from beyond the grave, the teacher was still looking after her dumb, reckless student.