Rise of Glie Chapter 28

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Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 27: Quest for the Blue Seed

FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie

Chapter 28: Lady Number

"Hmm..." the young lady moans from the bed, her long, dark hair hidden under the blanket.

"Miss?" a young man's voice asks from the side of the bed.

"I feel like crap," she groans, "Am I in a hospital?"

"Sort of," the man answers, "It's not a hospital anymore, although in a few hours, you'll probably wish it were. What's the last thing you remember?" he asks.

"Breathing water," she says, "trying to bust out of the tank. It was almost like I was enclosed in some giant fruit. I can still taste it."

"Oh," he says, "I mean before that. I'm trying to find a name for you."

"Oh, don't be silly," she laughs, "It's ... uh ... dang."

"I'm sure we can come up with a better one than Shiimata," he laughs.

She smiles.

"It's normal for a new haibane to have this sense of having lived, but not remembering anything about it, not even her own name. Mine's Fushoku, by the way," he explains.

"Pleased to meet you," she sighs, "Did you just call me an ashfeather? Why is that?"

"Take a look. I'm one, too," he says.

The lady opens her brown eyes for the first time and sees a young teenager with little wings peering at her around his shoulders and a glowing halo hovering over his head. "That's nice," she says, "but I don't have wings or a halo, only a sore back and a fever."

"It's a start," he says with a chuckle, "Bahitsu's gone to get your halo, and your wings are growing, that's why your back hurts. If you hear a screaching little girl, that would be Kagami, who found your cocoon."

"Corrode, Horses, and Mirror?" she notes curiously, "Where do you come up with such names?"

"We are named for the dreams we had in the cocoon," he says, "That's why I'm curious about your dream."

"Numbers," she says, "My dream is about numbers ... lots and lots of numbers. I do lots of things with numbers, mostly getting unreliable machines to understand them, but my dream is all about the numbers, and-" She lifts her head and pulls her left hand out from under the pillow, looks at it momentarily, then plonks her head back down and squishes her brown eyes shut and groans. With a tear, she says, "Just call me Bangou." (番号 - Number)

"Hi, miss!" Kagami screams from the doorway, "Are you feeling okay?"

Bangou scrunches up her shoulders and eyes, but gracefully she answers, "You must be Kagami-san ... and no, I'm not feeling okay. Please keep it down."

Crystal, having lost the chase, notices just how much the young lady, apparently no older than Bahitsu, reminds her of her mother when last she had the flu, that she wonders if she's ever had kids. Impossible, she's far too young.

Kagami, in a more sensitive mood, "Ma'am, can you feel your wings yet?" she puts her hand on Bangou's back, "They should be-"

She hisses in pain, "That hurts, Kagami-san."

The girl pulls her hand back, "Sorry, ma'am," she says, then retreats, to Crystal's side.

"Bahitsu's back," Crystal says from the door.

"He'll have to wait," Fushoku replies while feeling Bangou's forehead, "Her wings are too close to coming out. I'll handle this part."

The door closes.

"Bangou-san," he says, "There's little we can do for the pain," he pulls the covers back, exposing bruised and oversized shoulder blades with the extra bones of the wings wriggling underneath. He gently sets a wet towel across her back over them. "It stings when they break through the skin," he says, "I remember my own."

She opens her eyes to see how he has his wings uncomfortably scrunched up around his shoulders in sympathetic memory.

"It's harder to watch," he says, "I think I'd rather go through it again myself than watch it happen to you. But I'm staying right here," he grunts with determination. "After they come out, you'll probably pass out. I'll wash them for you. The fever will be gone by tomorrow morning."

Crystal and Kagami have left and Bahitsu waits outside the door, listening to his friend urge the crying hatchling through the process, the splattering tear and the scream, and the crying afterwards. Once he's pretty sure that the new haibane has gone back to sleep, he goes back downstairs.

"What's her name, Bahitsu?" Kagami asks softly from the kitchen table as she and Crystal nurse bowls of rice with little bits of goose in them. Three more wait in the hope that her wings wouldn't have been in such a hurry to emerge.

"I don't know," Bahitsu says as he sits down with the halo mould in his lap, "It'll have to wait, I guess." He stares at his rice until steam quits rising from it.

Crystal piles some more on top, "Fushoku doesn't want his, and Bangou is still sleeping. It's quite a mess up there," she says.

"Oh," Bahitsu says, and finally starts eating. That he's hungry is quite a discovery.

Upstairs, as evening approaches, Bangou stirs. After wincing, she groans, "My God ... I feel them, the wings. They're real?"

"Yes, Bangou-san," Fushoku answers, "they are real." He continues to wash them.

"Why do you keep calling me Bangou-san? My name is-" she hits that barrier in her mind again.

"Would you prefer Bangou-kun?" Fushoku asks.

He laughs at her smile. It's obvious she would have laughed if it didn't hurt so much.

"I'm thirsty," she moans.

"Have some water then," Fushoku points out the glass of water on the meal tray beside her.

Her wing strains against Fushoku as she reaches for it, slips through his hands and spreads to its modest span.

"That feels so," she starts, then lifts her wing, winces, and the glass of water slips from her hand and falls to the floor, "It hurts. I'm sorry." She relaxes her wing and looks over the edge of the bed to look for it. Suddenly she notices that the room looks like a bomb had gone off, "What happened here?"

"Oh?" Fushoku replies, looking around, "That was your cocoon, we'll fix it up. You can have any room you like, but we figure you'll probably want this one because of its location ... or maybe the next one," he thumbs, "to get a little further away from Kagami."

"That little hell-raiser you referred to," she smiles, "Typical of that age, they can't always predict when they will hurt somebody, but she means well. I'm sure she's learned."

"You've had kids," Fushoku says.

It wasn't a question, she notes. Why should it be? But as natural as it seems to Bangou to have had children, she can't remember any.

"I can see it in your eyes," Fushoku clarifies, "They look like Janice's."

"Janice," she notes, "sounds like a proper name."

"Of course," Fushoku chuckles, "She's human. Crystal's mom. Crystal's my age, if you get my meaning. She's fourteen, I'm two."

"I get it," she says, "How old is Kagami?"

"One year," Fushoku answers, "She's growing. She found your cocoon as a seed and didn't tell anybody until yesterday morning. She's been watching it grow for ten months."

"Sure doesn't feel like ten months," Bangou moans, "A previous life I remember in my dreams, but seems just out of my grasp. I'm still thirsty by the way. Could you please refill that. I won't drop it again, I promise."

Fushoku is about to leave the room with the glass when she asks, "Where are you going?"

"To refill the water," he says, "You'll be okay for a minute, right?"

"Oh, it's not that," she tries to point, but decides to nod her head instead, "There's a sink right over there."

"Oh," Fushoku seems to notice it for the first time, "Oh, yeah. We haven't got power for Old Home's water pumps. It's a long story, I can explain when I get back."

"Psst," Bahitsu signals from down the hall, "What's her name?"

"Oh," Fushoku says, "It's Bangou, I'll think you'll like her."

"Oh," he blushes, "Crystal mentioned it earlier. Hungry yet?" he asks.

"Starving," Fushoku replies, "and exhausted, I only got two hours of sleep last night before she busted out."

"Good!" Bahitsu says playfully. This instantly signals to Fushoku that Bahitsu had an ulterior motive in asking if he was hungry, which Bahitsu reveals as Fushoku reaches for the one working faucet over the one working sink in all of Old Home, "That means she's doing well."

Fushoku shakes his head at Bahitsu's insufferable wit as he heads back to the table to share the good news with Crystal and Kagami.

Heading back upstairs, Fushoku is surprised to discover a hand mirror at the head of Bangou's bed, and she's raptly playing with her grey feathers with its help.

Fushoku quickly sets the water on the meal tray and grabs the cloth to clean the fresh blood from her back, "Go easy on them, Bangou-san, he urges. It takes a few days for them to heal up from breaking out." Checking her forehead, he notes, "Your fever's coming down already, that's good."

"They ... won't stay so stiff, then, right?" she says, "When can I start flying?"

"Oh, uh," Fushoku blushes, "They're not big enough to fly with."

"Chicken," she chuckles.

Fushoku gets it quickly, even though it's not a joke Bahitsu's ever uttered: the chicken is an example of a bird with wings too small and weak to fly with.

"I'm sure one day we'll have a haibane someone'll call <<Hiyoko>>," Fushoku replies. [Note: This is in homage to a scene in Haibane Renmei Episode 6.]

Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 29: The Last Place On Earth, Period.

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