“Kurena…it is a little late, but…happy birthday.”

“T-thank you?”

Kurena hastily received the little box Lena handed over. A birthday. How many years has it been? She had already forgotten about that.

The 86ers felt there was no need to remember their birthdays, let alone celebrate.

“Can I open it?”

“Of course. I hope you will like it.”

Kurena opened the little velvet box, and found a gold pendant inside. The gold chain would match Kurena’s slightly tanned skin, and embedded at the base of the chain was an orange stone.

Wow, she was mesmerized, her breath taken away.

It resembled the thing she envied years ago…during the peaceful times she no longer had memories of, the thing her mother and older sister had.

It was dazzling, so adult-like.

“So pretty…”

She blurted out, and Lena smiled.

“Thank goodness.”

“Yes. Erm…I’m happy about this…h-hey!”

Kurena asked Lena, having thought of something. Since she received a gift, naturally, she should repay in kind.

“When’s your birthday Lena? Anyway,”

Kurena herself had forgotten about this.

Her parents and sister died, so those who knew of her birthday should no longer exist.

Thus, she did not expect to celebrate her birthday.

 

“How did you…know my birthday?”

 

 

“—Shin.”

Shin, who was called, had a really thick book tucked under his armpit, one which he had lost before. Between the pages was a slip of paper used as a bookmark, a silver one, one that probably did not belong to him in the first place.

The bloody red eyes turned towards Kurena, showing her, and blinked; he eased a smile.

“What? Something good happened, Kurena?”

“Eh?”

“You look rather happy…you’re smiling.”

Shin said as he showed a serene smile, a smile Kurena was unfamiliar with.

It was a nice smile, so she thought. 2 years ago, they should have been buried in the 1st battle area of the 86th district, and he faced his fate with grim eyes; nowadays, he seemed to be smiling more.

“Yeah…just a little.”

Kurena was a year younger than Shin, and for that reason, Shin had always, always treated her as a little sister.

She was glad to be treated as a little sister, rather than just one of the ordinary Processors in the same squadron, but this was not what she wanted.

She did not intend to say what was on her mind, because they were not compatible.

They could not stand at the same place, just as they were not of the same age.

But.

Kurena’s birthday was May 6th.

And Shin’s birthday too—was in May, 19th.

Shin, being about a year older, was yet to be 18. He remained 17 as the 18th had not arrived.

So for the ten or so days, they were the same age.

Despite that, Kurena was glad for this little moment of ‘similarity’.

And at this moment, the person she would never ever catch up to was certainly—standing at the same place as her.

Shin saw Kurena show an inexplicably bittersweet smile, and appeared to have realized something.

 

“Speaking of which, it’s your birthday, right—sorry, I’ve been busy.”

“No, it’s fine. I know you’re busy now.”

 

Kurena and the 1st Armored Corps of the Strike Package were expected to head off to the next battlefield half a year later, the United Kingdom of Roa Graecia. As the overall leader of the 1st Armored Corps, Shin probably was busy with the preparations.

Shin frowned, looking a little perturbed.

“…But,”

Kurena had forgotten her own birthday, and was fine with that. However, she wanted to celebrate his birthday one day, now that she had known.

Kurena said with a smile. She wanted to reach out to him as a comrade of equals, a little sister who liked to fawn around.

 

“Anyway Shin, treat me to cake at the canteen. I want chocolate.”

“That’s fine…but is that enough for you?”

“You have some too.”

“I…”

 

Shin said that even while knowing that he could not handle sweets; as expected, he looked increasingly perturbed.

Kurena giggled as she looked up at him.

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