とある感謝の気持ち の 借金

Toaru Kanshanokimochi no Shakkin

A Certain Debt of Gratitude

Kuroko's heart was heavy this evening. She had been released from the hospital 2 days ago after a single day of recovery. If it had been any other doctor she would have been shocked at such a fast treatment, but the doctor she had had, which was the same doctor as the one from four years ago. He was the greatest doctor she had ever met, good enough that the nickname which he typically went by was Heaven Canceller. Though it was a slightly silly name as heaven didn't exist, and even if it did she would hardly be going there if she died…

Ever since she had been released however Misaka had been distant, almost as if she was scared of Kuroko. Now that the thorns were gone they had stopped sleeping together and any passive attempts at getting closer were pushed away. Her aggressive attempts were met with as harsh a shock as ever but they now inspired a kind of sadness in the electro-master. Kuro's existence and what she had said was weighing heavily down upon her, making her feel as if Kuroko was no longer the same person as before. She didn't understand yet that they were two completely separate people, two different entities and because of this her love for the teleporter was slowly dwindling. This was what was weighing down upon her heart and making happiness difficult to grasp.

She dreaded what would happen if her Onee-sama completely pushed her away. After all, while Kuroko would freely die for anyone, the older girl was the one person in the world that Kuroko was willing to live for. Kuroko's life was worthless in her opinion; the only thing that gave it worth was the fact that her Onee-sama saw some value in it and what her Onee-sama thought was worthwhile Kuroko saw as being the same. If the electro-master stopped loving her then it would just prove that her existence wasn't really worth anything after all.

This wasn't the first time these thoughts had passed through her head of course… the first time had been four years ago, right after she had done the thing which robbed any value that her life might have had, when she had killed a man. Since the value of all human life was equal, taking a life forfeited any value that the killer's life might have had. This was her opinion. This was why she had believed she no longer deserved to live.

Back then, however, there had been a person who still saw value in her life. She remembered the day they first met. She was sitting in her hospital bed just after her time suffering from Hell. Though her tears had long since run dry and her throat hurt as much as her heart from the sobbing she still cried. Alone in her hospital room with swollen red eyes and a cracking voice she cried as Kuro tried in futility to comfort her. She knew she didn't deserve comfort, she knew she deserved nothing but hate and death for what she had done.

Then, as she looked down into her lap a hand suddenly entered her field of vision, the hand held a long rectangular box out to her. Inside the box were two pairs of ribbons, two vermillion red ones and two snow white ones.

"Your hair is a mess child," a voice said, calm, kind, soothing, "Ribbons, to tie it up with. I'm sure they'll look good on you." When she didn't make a move to take them or even to look up at the person they walked up and tied her hair up in the pigtails it had been in since then.

"Your doctors have noticed the mental strain you seem to be under and they have reached the conclusion that you are no longer stable enough to remain within the city. But you don't want to leave do you child?" the person asked after they were done. Kuroko sniffed and shook her head. She didn't want to go but didn't want to stay either, she didn't know what she wanted, she just knew that it didn't matter what she wanted.

"So I shall transfer you to another hospital, under another doctor. He will look after you and not send you home."

"Why," Kuroko finally croaked out in her rough voice, "I don't deserve your kindness, I don't deserve your gifts… I… I killed a person," she said bringing on another bout of sobbing.

The person put their hand on her shoulder to comfort her and waited until she had stopped. "I know what you have done child but that merely means that you now owe a debt to the world, a debt I will help you repay one day. You and your life are still important, they are valuable to me even if they are not important to you. One day I know you will repay my kindness but I need you to live until that day, for my sake if not your own."

Kuroko nodded. She knew her own death wouldn't settle the debt she owed the universe for her crime. After all, no one would care about her death, no one would go to her funeral. She had snatched him away from over 30 people. She didn't just kill him, he robbed those thirty of someone they held dear. She practically murdered 30 people in one action. Her death wasn't enough to pay for thirty others. But if this man was willing to help her repay her debt then perhaps she should take his offer.

After that he had taken her to another hospital where she had met Heaven Canceler Over the next three years that man had visited her several times but a year and a half ago he had stopped. A year after that she had stopped going to Heaven Canceler as well.

Now however she seemed fated to face her past again. She looked down into her hand where she held a piece of paper requesting her presence. It was from that man.

"I guess it is time to begin repaying my debt," she said as she teleported one final time into the building that was his place of residence. The man stood in front of her as she appeared. She bowed low to the ground.

"Ahh, you have arrived," he spoke in the same tone as he always had, calm kind, soothing, "It has been quite some time since I have seen you last child…"

Kuroko smiled fondly at the person who had saved her, the person who had shown kindness and mercy despite knowing what she had done, despite knowing she deserved nothing of the sort, the person to whom she owed a great debt of gratitude. She bowed her head lower as she spoke to him and said, "yes it has… it is good to see you again Aleister-sama."[1]

[1]: Earlier Aleister sent a "puppet ", a doppleganger, to the hospital to avoid detection. It would only make sense that he would be able to do so, though it also makes sense that it would be rare that he does. The reason he risked such a thing will be revealed later on.

Author's Note/ Foreword (despite coming after the first chapter…): All right then, this is the first chapter to the sequel of my earlier work The Ace, The Queen, and The Two of Hearts and the second book of the "Final Judgment" trilogy which I've been planning since about chapter 8 of my previous book, though I couldn't let it on else it would've ruined the drama of Kuroko's apparent death. I wanted to talk a little before it begins to give you an idea of what to expect since there are going to be quite a few changes. The major things are:

1: This story runs parallel to canon until New Testament, meaning everything that happens in TAMNI happens in the exact same way at the exact same time in my story other than perhaps a few minor appearances by Kuroko that don't really change anything. But since Kuroko is rarely in the novels and the few appearances she has are minor at most it gives me a lot of freedom to say what she is doing while this is going on, which is one of the major reasons why I chose to focus on her.

2: Because of number 1 the romance in this is a bit less, especially late in the story. I apologize to the people who really liked that aspect of my last story but I can't afford to change Misaka's feelings too much without risking affecting canon.

3: Despite running parallel to canon several elements of it will be greatly expanded upon and in some cases directly altered, as you will see in these two chapters to come. Whether you find this enjoyable or not depends, I know, upon my skill as a writer so I will try hard not to let you down. My explanation for most of what violates canon is simply this: My characters are not omniscient, nor are the characters in the main story. They can be mistaken about things and there is more than one theory about things like magic, and while some characters know and accept one theory, other characters may have another. And things like Aleister's plan and an explanation of how artificial angels work are completely unknown in universe so I can pretty much do what I want with that and claim that what has been revealed has been a red herring or misinformation.

4: As in the real story, many religious and mythological elements will be used and contorted. Next chapter in particular may quite offend Christians quite a bit and for this I apologize ahead of time. I am an atheist but I respect all religions and don't wish to offend anyone, I am simply trying to create a compelling story with a rich mythos to it, blasphemy is far from my mind.