2015-08-10 - ...I Already Know Who You Are.

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Title: ...I Already Know Who You Are.

Eas carries Lera to safety, after she lost against Jaren. The Labyrinth Executive's spur-of-the-moment decision might be costly, though. In the wake of that, a secret is revealed. And kept.


Lera Camry and Setsuna Higashi


The beach near the Rainbow Bridge.

OOC - IC Date:

08-12-2014 - 08-10-2015

'...Don't crane your neck so much. I'm getting you out of here.'

Lera kept quiet while Eas carried her off. After she agreed with her claim -- that Lera was stupid, an idiot, maybe even that she should have let Lera hit the ground -- she didn't say anything else. Her expression was somber and drained the entire way over. Her voice, before she stopped talking, had that distant and defeated tone to it. Even her eyes have less life in them than usual.

She lost Sky. He was broken and shattered; that, alone, was deeply upsetting. She knew he could recover, but he would recover in the company of Jaren Zastava. She could never rescue him on her own.

She doesn't recognize the location until they arrive. She isn't in any shape to walk, yet. Her back is sore; her ribs are broken, as is her right hand. She tucks it against her body, carefully. Her legs aren't broken, but the severe mana drain from the fight leaves her feeling generally weak. She has to let Eas carry her, for now.

Slowly, though, it dawns on her. This is the beach that she first really spoke to Eas on; the one on Tokyo Bay, looking out at the Rainbow Bridge. Night has set and the bridge is lit up. It looks beautiful, Lera thinks, but otherworldly. Her heart sinks again with the thought.

She mutters, softly. "I'm sorry. I--I made so much trouble for you." Her voice isn't distant, anymore, but thick with emotion. "For... for everyone, too. I..."

She squeezes her eyes shut and bites her lip. She opens them again; every time she tunes the world out, all she can see is Sky breaking, and then Jaren kicking her over the side of a building. Her eyes turn down at the ground below, instead.

Sure, Setsuna has seen Lera like this before...

But it's disquieting, and worse, she can't understand why it's so disquieting.

But for whatever reason, she doesn't just throw Lera down and leave. No, she carries the older girl out to somewhere isolated, out to a beach where it's at least better than the street. Night looms before her, and in the darkness, the denizen of Labyrinth only looks paler and more alien herself. Her heels click until they hit sand, and then...

Well, she's been more talkative than Lera on their way, largely continuing to grumble. If Lera were in a position to notice, she might even realize that Eas's talk of idiots and stupidity are...

Sort of a nervous thing.

"Don't apologize," the younger girl says with a frown, finally kneeling down to set Lera on the softer sand far enough from the water to not make a problem. "We're not friends. ...I didn't help you because I like you. And I didn't help you because I care about what happened."

"...I just owed you. That's all."

The grumbling was noticed, though Lera doesn't quite realize it to be nervousness. Her mental state isn't such that she makes connections like that. She took it as something deserved; something that matched the internal thoughts she didn't quash. She was an idiot. She was stupid. A part of her wanted to say she knew and be done with it, but she told Eas that before -- and the self-deprecation felt dishonest in retrospect.

When Eas helps her down into the sand, she sits back slightly, and then draws her legs up to make herself more comfortable. She puts her injured hand in her lap, then looks down at it, instead of those red eyes.

'...I just owed you. That's all.'

She wants to protest. She wants to make a callback to last night, to when Eas said she makes her feel things. She wants to say that she values Eas. It's true, after all. She looks up at those red eyes, meeting them for a moment. But then, Lera's golden eyes turn away from hers. "Yeah. I..."

She looks down at the ground. "I know you hate me," she says quietly. "I... I want you to like me, y'know? I really thought--" She knows she should stop talking. She doesn't, though, as a metaphorical dam breaks inside of her. All of her words and feelings come tumbling out. "--I thought I could help you. I thought I could make you smile."

A beat.

"I thought I could make things better for Ren-chan, so that Jar--" She can't quite say his name. "--so that jerk wouldn't try to hurt her. I thought I could give Fate something to be happy about. I thought I could make sure that Mom will always be proud of me. But I don't have Sky," she says. "Everything I could do, I could do because of him, and I... I didn't listen. So now, all I've got is this."

She bites her lip. "I just brought Ren-chan all these troubles and never helped her solve them. Fate... Fate's going to have me taken away from her. Because Mom won't be proud of me. She's gonna tell me to go back with her--or tell me to get lost. And you, I..." She looks up at Eas. The tears are back in her eyes. "...All I ever did was make you cry. I'll never make you smile. I'll never do any of that."

She doesn't sob, though. She looks at her, defeated, and says in a hoarse whisper: "I... I wish I'd never been born."

Eas doesn't like it. Whatever it is, she doesn't like it at all, and none of her talking actually seems to make it any better regardless. ...But she sets Lera down anyway. She sets her down, and as Lera looks back up to her...

Eas's eyes are dull and flat, as always, but there is a glimmer of something there. There's a glimmer of frustration... of something that could be worry. Maybe for Lera, maybe not, but there's uncertainty there, something unlike the confidence she tries to project.

"...That's right, I hate you," Eas answers, though there's not much venom in it. Her tone is defensive, instead, sullen. ...And the rest...

She shuts up for a minute at the rest. Lera has said things before, but this...


It should seem so much more distant, but it's like hearing Lera speak makes Setsuna feel some of what she's feeling. It's...

It's nauseating.

She's almost anxious as she looks back at Lera looking back up at her. Eas isn't crying, of course, but she doesn't understand what's going on, and it shows. She doesn't...

She doesn't like it.

"...So you failed," Eas answers roughly, immediately looking away in an unsuccessful bid to hide her eyes. "Nobody was going to make me smile. It's stupid anyway. It's pointless to waste time feeling bad about impossible things."

She pauses, and then sits back, wrapping her arms about her knees as she stays with the older girl for the moment.

"...Maybe you'll stop trying to do so many stupid things, this way. Smiles, helping... It's better like this. You'll be safer. ...And this planet's not so great anyway."

She hesitates.

"...You could join Labyrinth, you know."

Ordinarily, Lera would try to interrupt at the idea that it isn't better. She doesn't find that fire within her, though, so she gives Eas a long look. Safer, she thinks. Then she looks back down at her knees while the young girl looks away from her. She draws herself up a little like Eas is; she hugs her knees against her chest, but she hisses softly when she moves the fractured bones in her right hand.

But she didn't expect one thing. She looks up at the end, stunned, and stares at Eas for a moment.

'...You could join Labyrinth, you know.'

For the briefest moment, she really considers it. The idea that she could run away, that she wouldn't have to face her friends and her mother, that she could go to a place with someone she cares about -- and, she realizes with a surprise that sharpens with the thought, cares about her -- is enticing. But then it falls apart.

She still can't agree with Labyrinth's goals. The thought of it helps; she can't imagine a life without smiling, without happiness. She finds it hard to imagine those in her life, now. But, beyond that fundamental disagreement, she realizes something else: she could never look at Eas, never talk to her, never fight at her side without feeling that she failed her. She chokes back a sob, that comes out as a pained laugh at the same time.

"I can't," she says, quietly. "I don't... I couldn't do that. I don't believe in what Mobius wants. I still want to smile. And laugh. And all those wonderful things I felt. I..." She looks back at the ground. "...I don't deserve them. I definitely don't deserve to pretend I don't want them at all."

Eas definitely notices the absence of argument--just like she notices that soft hiss, and frowns down at Lera's arm. "Don't do that," she orders. "You're injured, you're just going to make it worse if you don't stay still. I'll... tell somebody you're here, or something. But only because I owe you. After this, we're even. We're done."

...She didn't answer the shock, at first. In fact, the suggestion was almost shy in that respect. It would mean she hadn't failed, wouldn't it? That she had done something right, helping Lera. It would make things neat, and easy. Maybe it would work out. Then she wouldn't have to...

That laugh/sob doesn't mean enough to Eas; she looks and stares, until Lera actually answers. "..."

"...So what?" she asks. "Believing... wanting... Those things aren't any good."

But it's not like she can think much about 'deserve'. No, it was foolish of her to even think about it. Mobius-sama wouldn't want someone else's rejects.

"Whatever," she says, huffing. "You say that now, but you'll just get back up again later and go do something else stupid. Like you do every time I knock you down. ...It's annoying, you know."

She flinches, scolded, when Eas tells her to stop moving her hand. She does what she is told, pulling her hand back against herself and keeping it there securely. But the next words prompt more of a response than a whimper; than feeling sorry for herself. It might be a relief, in some ways, if the context was different. Her face screws up, then she lets out a soft grumble -- there is a hint of a sob in it, still -- and looks at Eas.

'We're done.'

"Don't... don't say that," she says, her voice almost yet not quite heated. "I'm losing other people already. Just... just don't." She adds, though, more pleading: "...please."

But she hesitates after that. Her eyes grow heavier. She doesn't want someone to find her, but -- and she cannot recognize it as the important step forward that it is -- she knows they have to. She glances sideways at Eas, her mouth opening up. Nothing comes out. Does she really think that she will get back up, then do something stupid again?

She does, Lera realizes. Her eyes drift back to Eas's red eyes again and she swallows, nervously.

"You're..." She hesitates. She doesn't want to say she believes that Eas is right. She doesn't, honestly, think that. "...Why did you help me? You said you don't bother with failures. Or close enough."

The younger girl hesitates, her silver hair blown softly by the cold breeze coming off of the water. She doesn't shiver, despite the chill; it sharpens her a little, it feels like. That grumble...

It's a little more of a reaction from Lera, anyway. A little bit. "...I don't take requests." Her answer is stiff. "And there's nothing to lose with me. You're not losing anything."

As Lera looks at her, though, Eas simply can't tell why. "...What?" she asks. "I'm not wrong. None of you ever listen to me. I tell you, time and again, but you just keep doing the same old stupid things. Just because..."

No. Jaren is different.


The question stings on its own, Eas looking away not hotly, but reluctantly. It's not that she's angry about it.

It's that she's ashamed of it.

"...I--It's not like it's a big deal or anything. I was..."

No, that's not right.

"It was just..."

"...Shut up," she settles on. "I didn't help you. You'd be a lot less miserable if you'd died."

"Yeah, I am," Lera answers. The is still completely glum, but that she manages any defiance at all is a change. She almost says more -- but she is far from better. She is merely not as despondent as she could be. Her eyes and her sigh are heavy, but she keeps looking at Eas. She watches and listens, while she explains.

She doesn't quite explain, of course. Lera watches her have trouble with the explanation; she sucks a breath in. For a moment, there is a twinge at the corner of her lips.

She almost smiles. But smiling brings to mind the time, just yesterday, that Soaring Sky lectured Eas and made Lera smile. The expression fades to something more despondent. She looks away at the end of it, back down at the water, while she thinks about that. Would she be more miserable, if she died?

"....no I wouldn't," she admits. "I-I don't want to die. When I fell--when he kicked me off." Lera hesitates and her breath becomes ragged then. "I didn't think, 'At least it's over.' I thought..."

She shuffles nervously. It feels dangerously close to something like hope. "...I thought that I wanted to see everyone again. That I didn't wanna have things end like that."

"Hmph," Eas answers that defiance immediately. ...But she doesn't like the way she left her explanation. She knows it doesn't hold up. But...

Lera's insistence hurts. She can't tell her that. She can't reveal that weakness. She's given out so many already.

Eas still looks troubled, though, like she might be ill at any moment, her eyes moving slowly, her motions lethargic. She was sure at least that she'd said something to quiet it...

"..." Lera doesn't want to die. ...It brings back memories, memories of a time she can't forget. The time that...

"...That's great for you," the younger girl answers bitterly. "How nice that you get to seek everybody out, then. Whatever, fine. I don't know why I helped you. It's not going to matter anyway. You'd better get used to the idea of me not being around."

Eas looks down, slowly, and wraps her arms about her knees a little more tightly.

"I shouldn't have done it."

It isn't Eas's claim that she shouldn't have done it that hurts most. It stings, but she doubts that it is so simple a feeling. She saved her after all. What really hurts is the insistence that Eas won't be around more. She leans her head down, her forehead resting against the tops of her knees. Her breath is ragged after that, as she takes a moment to compose herself, and she speaks in a hoarse whisper again.

"I know," she says. She feels the sinking feeling coming back; all of those early feelings of confidence, those little signs that she might be getting better go fleeing again as something breaks. "I'll have to, even if it's... it's not why you think, maybe."

Her eyes almost close, but she stops herself. She can't bear to see Soaring Sky break still, and she knows what waits if she closes her eyes. "When I came here, Mom told me if that I couldn't do it... that she'd make me go home," she says, quietly. "I couldn't do it, Eas. I'm gonna go--"

Not to Midchilda. Not after the dimensional quakes. She doesn't know where, but that terrifies her too.

"--somewhere. Unless I can--" A little hope flickers back into her voice, but it doesn't stay for long. "It's..." She swallows again, her fingers on her good hand gripping her other arm tightly. "...it might be the last time I ever see you. So don't... just, please don't make it worse, y'know?"

Eas turns her face toward Lera again as if seeing her will make her hear that whispering a little bit more clearly. "What...?"

Not why she thinks?

"So, you--" Eas stops, closing her mouth only as an afterthought after Lera explains what it is. Red eyes remain focused on the other girl, the one who actually looks like she belongs out here, even with all her injuries. Eas doesn't. She shouldn't be here at all. She should be...

"...Why?" Eas's voice lets slip some of the pain she's feeling, "Why are..."

It's not a question she needs answered, and it dies off. That's something she already understands, after all. She can pretend otherwise, but it doesn't change anything.

"...It's not personal," Eas says. "It's just... I'm not supposed to... It's not my mission to help you. I... I betrayed Mobius-sama's trust. If I help you, that means you can keep fighting us. I--"

It becomes clearer then, her own worry, as she stares forward again into nothing in particular. "How do I make it worse?"

Lera sinks a little, when she hears that hint of pain in Eas's voice. 'All I ever did,' she thinks, 'is hurt her. Make her cry.' She looks down at the ground, her eyes misty, and she nods once. She swallows a lump in her throat then. She doesn't want to start sobbing here, really. The tone in Eas's voice surprises her, though, and makes her look up before she sinks away entirely. It isn't personal -- and she sounds, ever so slightly, hurt.

She doesn't hate her, Lera realizes. Somehow, a little bit of that heaviness lifts from her heart.

But she feels a new worry there. She begins to realize: Eas didn't just do something she didn't want Lera to see. It wasn't only a way to pretend that she didn't care. It was a dangerous thing to do; something that the others in Labyrinth could get angry about. Lera's eyes widen, slowly, with the realization.

She remembers Fate Testarossa being struck down by her mother's lightning. She sucks a gasp in, holding it, and tries to not picture Eas crumpled over just like that.

"I'm sorry," she says, both quietly and sincerely. "I... I didn't think of it that way. I--" She hesitates, then she looks down. She bites her lip. In a way, this is the best thing that could happen. Rather than wallow, she has to think on a problem in front of her, and find a solution. "...Eas."

She looks directly at the Labyrinth Executive. Her expression and her voice are entirely serious. Lera Camry hates when she has to lie. The voice of Yukimi Amane admonishes her, in her mind, for how she lied to Endo and Ren about where she came from. She feels the pang of guilt, when she couldn't tell friends where she really came from.

"...I'll lie about it, if you want me to. I don't want you to get in trouble."

As she speaks about this worry, as Lera starts to understand, the waver in Eas's voice may begin to make more sense: the quick movements, the quickening of her breathing, they add up to one thing.

Eas doesn't notice that Lera's eyes widen, because Eas is focused mostly on her fear.

And Lera's sorry. The younger girl's expression tightens. "Of course you didn't! You almost died, you aren't thinking of anything!" Fear turns slightly into panic, as she's actually admitted aloud what she's done.

But all the same that serious tone commands enough attention for Eas to look over at her, if slowly, eyes still wide. "I..."

She'll lie about it. She...


Even thinking about it makes her more nauseous with guilt. "He'll know," she says, and if it weren't a whisper it might be a wail. "I can't lie to Mobius-sama. He--Maybe he'll forgive me, if I..."

She is panicking. Lera is so surprised to see it that she freezes up and hesitates for a moment, while she whispers. It only comes out as a whisper, but she realizes that is an effort to restrain herself from panicking worse. In her wounded state, with her ego in tatters and her body aching from the simple act of sitting in stand, she has to stop and think about it to put the pieces together.

Eas doesn't want to see her again because this isn't her mission. Because, she realizes, Mobius would kill or punish her -- and, even if it may be misguided, she cares what the lord of Labyrinth thinks about her.

She wants, for a moment, to take it back. To not leave Earth on this note; to not have to leave Eas wondering if she threw her life away to help an enemy, who turns around and leaves. It feels dangerously close to the sentiment that she shared at the beginning of the conversation: that she had never been born. Suddenly, Lera feels intensely guilty for thinking that.

Eas risked everything for her. She can't wish that. She can't just throw this gift away.

"Eas..." Lera says, trailing off. She reaches a hand out; unlike before, she doesn't put her hand on the other girl's shoulder. She puts her left hand between them, so it's there if she wants some physical contact. If not, she is that much closer to her. "I won't tell anyone. Soular, Westar, Fate--any of them. I didn't realize what you were doing for me. I'm so sorry about that. But..."

She looks down at her hand resting on the sand.

"...I'll be annoying. I'll get back up. I'll find a way to stay on Earth. Even if I'm not a magical girl. Even if--" A lump forms in her throat, and she can't send it down. "--even if Mom hates me. I'll find a way to be there for you, if you need it, y'know?"

While Eas isn't the best at picking up on emotions to begin with, she can still feel something from Lera, notice that that hand is still there, that she's leaning forward.

"You were torn apart," the younger girl corrects, though the usual edge to her voice remains blunted, her typical sharpness not recovered--not even close, really. ...But what Lera says, about saving everyone, doing everything.

Lera saying she'll be there... She could accept it. She could allow that, rely on her for something. But then what? What else could she do? Betray Mobius-sama because she's afraid?

"...That's... That's your problem," she says, drawing in a shaky breath as she tries to calm herself. "You try to take on too much... And you won't get anything."

Eas was there for Lera.

"..." She's silent again, for a few moments, before finally turning again to Lera, slowly, closing her eyes.

"...You don't know anything about the things I've done, Lera. ...But fine. Just... Don't tell anyone. If Mobius-sama punishes me, I've earned it... But I don't want Soular to have the satisfaction." Eas forces herself to let her legs stretch out, folding her arms closer to her instead.

"You don't get it. ...And you won't get it." Eas sighs, slowly calming as she feels resgination spread from her heart. "...If you want to help so much..."

"Promise me something. Something you've gotta keep, or I'll know you were lying all along. That I was right."

Lera's hand doesn't move. It helps that leaning over is slightly more comfortable; it stretches her back out. She doesn't want to mention that, lest it take away something from the moment. The pain is a small distraction, though, as she looks at Eas. 'The things I've done,' she says, and that leaves her wondering. What has she done?

She wonders about a lot. Who has Eas hurt? Does she regret it? She doesn't wonder, however, whether she could forgive Eas. She looks back at those red eyes -- and then she swallows. She could forgive her. She forgave Fate Testarossa.

She wants to forgive her.

"Okay," she says. Her expression and her tone remain serious. "You got it. What do you want me to promise you?" She skips a beat. Her expression cracks; it's the ghost of her usual playful grin. "I can't promise you handbaked goods. My hand's kinda busted right now."

Comfortable's kinda the last thing on Eas's mind at the moment. The sand is itchy, and unpleasant. The air smells. It's cold. And it's dark out. She can't see anything, and there's that garish bridge.

She can find plenty to dislike about this place just by thinking about it a moment.

...But Lera agrees. Eas looks back into her eyes, but then looks away again. It might be deliberate, but regardless, the result is that Eas keeps looking away, hiding her face.

"That easy, huh?" Pause. "...I wasn't going to ask for baked goods. I don't care about sweets."

That sound was the joke flying completely over her head.

"...No, it's that I want you to keep a secret. ...You'll regret it if you do."

"It was--" Lera begins to explain that it was a joke. The smile fades, though, because while she is tempted to explain the joke, she can see it plainly isn't the time. Her expression becomes more serious again. She hesitates only a moment, her eyes drifting back down at the ground. Eas has a secret that she would regret.

She wonders and hesitates for a moment. She hasn't had the best relationship with Eas in the past. She has screamed at her, exchanged blows, and been left in tears. When Eas tells her that she will regret the secret, she doesn't have reason to doubt her. She knows how to hurt Lera.

But, a part of Lera reasons, she has already been hurt a lot today. Her spirit was nearly crushed, and while it has lifted, so many questions remain that her head spins. She wants to stay on Earth, but she could lose all of her friends. Her body aches and her sword hand is broken. She may never be a magical girl again. She has been hurt plenty.

She looks back up at Eas and nods. She owes her life to her. She promised she would be there for her, too. She can't back away from that now. "I'll keep it," she answers, quietly. "I promise."

Explaining jokes to Eas is something maybe too funny, one of those cute ideas that could never really keep happening. Right?

...Because Eas has a secret that Lera will regret knowing.

She manages to keep a damper now on her feelings, back for the moment to... well, not really back at all. Eas looks into space with a reserved quality unusual for the usually-fiery executive, the one always ready with a sneer or a haughty look or an angry word.

...She waits quietly for Lera's answer. There's nothing left for her to say, otherwise. ...Regardless of what's owed.

"..." Slowly, the younger girl nods. "...All right."

Placing one hand down beside her, palm-down, she uses it to spring herself slowly upward, standing a little bit at a time, as if she still has to stretch out her legs from disuse. For a moment longer, she looks out into the sky, toward the horizon.

...She lifts a hand, and turns to face Lera. She lifts the second hand, and breathes in. "Switch--"

She opens her hands and the magic is like cascading images, pixels changing over moment by moment, as if the girl here is only some kind of computer program. It all happens quickly, in an instant.


A girl in white, with purple hair and red eyes, looks down at Lera, drained, tired.

Setsuna Higashi looks away again. "...I already know who you are."

COMBAT: Eas transforms into Setsuna Higashi!

The flash of cascading data reflects in Lera's eyes. The change from confusion to pure, utter shock is visible in how the corners of her eyes tighten; in how her mouth hangs agape; in the way her hand, which had balled into a fist, relaxes all at once. She finds herself staring at Setsuna Higashi, wearing the same outfit that she wore earlier today. She, suffice to say, never expected this to be the case.


She is quietly, utterly stunned. She has to race to understand it, but then things begin to click into place for Lera. She remembers the conversation that they had over donuts; the one where Setsuna told her that she had to 'get better.' She remembers that with a pang, a reflection of the pain she felt that day. The context of that conversation suddenly changes entirely.

Setsuna spoke from experience. She spoke from her own desperation.

She remembers, too, the times that Eas hurt her. When Eas kicked and punched her after Fate lost to Nanoha; the brutal verbal beating that she gave her, too, about how Fate was worthless. She remembers the time that they fought in the Garden of Time, when a single punch from Setsuna in that armor sent her screaming across the Garden. She remembers Setsuna screaming at her in the park, after Precia fell. It ended with them both in tears.

But she remembers other things, too. The time that Setsuna asked her, with such uncertainty, what it was like to have a mother. The time that Setsuna read her fortune -- and when things looked uncertain, offered the unnecessary advice to be ready for it, and gave a small comfort. The time that Setsuna agreed to come play video games with her, even though she had a rough time of it. The time that Setsuna told Fate her new clothes were 'perfect.'

Lera remembers those bright orange sunglasses, with the rims lined by sunflowers, that Setsuna handed her.

Then, other things begin to make sense. Eas had tackled her out of the air in the aftermath of the duel -- and kept her from the firing line of Precia Testarossa's lightning. Eas tried to disable her, quickly, in the Garden of Time. She turned to her, just like she asked about mothers, to ask how she could keep feeling things. The reason, Lera realizes, that Setsuna cried this morning was that conversation.

She feels the tears welling up in her eyes. Lera reaches her right hand -- the broken one -- up and wipes the tears from her eyes. She hisses again, softly, before she speaks.

"Y-You're right," she says. "I am an idiot. Because... you were my friend, all this time, and I never saw it until now."

At least one thing goes like it's supposed to go.

Setsuna watches Lera process her shock, silent as she looks at the older girl while she's stunned. She doesn't go through these memories herself. She doesn't do anything like that. She stands there, and the fake look of her disguise is gone; this is Setsuna, but it's not Setsuna. It's Eas... But it's not exactly Eas, either.

This girl is the one beneath.

...All those things, those memories...

"...Stupid. You're still going to hurt yourself if you keep moving that hand." Her voice is oddly calm, measured, as she looks at Lera with eyes that almost look dead already.

She smiles, slightly, but it is not a pleasant expression. It's a mimicry, and the artifice is clear, now, in the way it doesn't reach her eyes. She looks to that hand, and back up to Lera, and shakes her head.

"...No," she corrects. "I wasn't. I was never anyone's friend."

"...I come from Labyrinth. 'Setsuna' never existed. You might think we were friends... But I don't have friends." Setsuna takes another breath, her purple hair waving softly in the breeze as it picks up again.

"...So that's it. I've been fooling you all along. And you're not the only one. This other girl... She trusts me so much that she took me to see her family." Her calm cracks slightly here, and for an instant, the misery behind her glassy look shines through. ...Her voice cracks with it. But then it's gone, even again, "So you should've let me die, back there. People would've forgotten about me. ...But now..."

She sets her jaw, and speaks with more force. "Eas is the only person I am. No one else. And I'm not going to stop. I'm going to keep doing this. I'm going to keep fooling that girl."

"...And you're going to keep my secret. I don't know why, but I know you're going to do it. ...Like I said. You'll regret knowing."

Setsuna turns her foot, as if to turn away. "Cry if you want. ...But now you know. If I... If I die, then..."

"...Then you aren't losing anything." She starts to walk away.

Lera flinches when she sees that smile and Setsuna says that she wasn't anyone's friend. Her eyes tear up more, because she is on the knife's edge of her emotions at the moment. Her smile fades, while she looks at the unpleasant smile -- at the way it doesn't meet her eyes. She realizes, then, that she hasn't ever made Eas smile. She realizes, too, that there are many more questions.

Is she really Eas? Is she Setsuna Higashi? Is she something in between the two of them?

'I've been fooling you all along.'

Lera's eyes narrow when she says that. She sees some of the misery there -- and the crack in her voice -- and the assertion that she should have let her die. Something in those words restores her confidence; it makes her decide, finally, that she has to find a way to stay on Earth. She has to find a way to stay. She looks at the other girl, quiet for a moment.

She wonders about that girl that Setsuna is fooling -- and whether she knows. She opens her mouth, and then she closes it again. She sees her turn and start to walk away. Lera stands up, slowly and shakily. Her legs tremble when she does.

"I would be losing something," she answers. She lifts her good hand, putting it over her heart. "I'd be losing you. I don't want that to happen. I'll... I'll try to save you, every time. I told you I'd be there, if you need me. That's still true. Even if it hurts, even if I regret... I'll still be there, Eas!"

She doesn't move to follow, though. Her legs tremble and her back protests with pain. She watches her walk away, her own words hovering in her mind. She wonders, then, how much she can help without Soaring Sky. Lera's eyes turn down to the ground, slowly. That feeling of hope wavers as she considers that.

She isn't a magical girl anymore. How much can she really help?

Watching Lera flinch is like a wound for Setsuna, a jagged strike across her skin. ...Maybe her heart, instead. It's good, in that way.

The girl here seems to think she is Eas. She says as much, anyway, though she says a lot of things. But despite that one crack, she stands straight, moves more confidently now. She doesn't look back until she thinks on it, until a strange impulse makes her think to see... And Lera is already shakily standing up by then. The girl from Labyrinth watches her as she gets there, watches her put her good hand over her heart--the good one, this time, not the one she'd scolded the older girl over--and...

"...You're an idiot," she says again. "Think what you want. ...Maybe you'll get smart after all, and tell somebody my secret. ...They might..." She can't be cavalier about it; she falters, before finishing the sentence, even thinking about it bringing a pained look. "I guess you won't, though." Pause, as she shakes her head. "Fate already knows. We had a talk. ...Ask her how badly I hurt her, and see how much you still think I'm your friend."

She starts on again. Over her shoulder, she looks, and says, "I'll call someone to pick you up. You need to get that hand looked at."

The executive of Labyrinth, the ordinary girl without the power Mobius-sama gave her, walks away.

"I already told you," Lera calls back after Setsuna. Her voice becomes thick again, as she thinks back to the conversation from last night. Her eyes fall again, back down at the ground, and she feels a heavy feeling in her chest. The idea of Fate being hurt makes this worse. "She only went to you because she cares about you. Fate... Fate's the one person that I think will understand."

She would have to talk to Fate. She would have to have a long, difficult talk with Fate with. She bites her lip, before she looks back up at Setsuna's back, while she promises to call someone for her.

She hesitates at that.

"It doesn't change anything," she says, but it's softer and to herself. "I--I'll still try to make you smile. I'll try to find something wonderful about, y'know? I'll..." But she falters. Her left hand flexes -- and Soaring Sky, with his strength and camaraderie, isn't there. Her head bows down again. She whispers to herself, instead of calling out to Setsuna. "How am I gonna do this, though...?"