Gifting birthday presents appeared to be a boom amongst the Eighty Sixes.

The Eighty Sixes had largely forgotten about their birthdays, and also forgotten the significance of celebrating their own birthdays, so it was bemusing for them to be gifted presents from the Republic citizens Lena, Annette and Dustin, along with the Federation citizens Grethe and Marcel. Those in the same squadrons, or previously of the same squadron, would receive presents like snacks, dolls and little ornaments.

Once the operation in the United Kingdom ended, they shifted to the school dormitories for vacation purposes, and all sense of tension was long gone.

In any case.

 

“Here, Theo. It is late, but happy birthday.”

“No erm…I get that it’s the in-thing to do right now, but…”

 

Anju beamed away as she handed over the ‘present’, and Theo looked down at her.

 

“My birthday should be in April or so, but it’s July now. You don’t have to celebrate for the sake of it.”

 

They discovered their birthdays when they were deployed to the republic, and the April batch, including Theo, could not celebrate in time.

Nevertheless, despite it being late, Lena gave him a color pencil set before they were deployed to the United Kingdom, and he was a little happy about that.

And his comrades who had seen that thought it would be fun to celebrate his birthday, even though it was late.

If they just intended to celebrate.

 

“You do not have to worry about that. Here, for you.”

“Y-you’re kidding me! Aren’t you guys just making fun of me, Anju, Shin, Raiden and everyone!?”

 

Theo hollered without thinking.

Anju was presenting a cute fox that fit the palm of his hand.

But well, he did not care. Theo had no interest in it, but he knew it was them shouting out to his personal mark.

The problem was that just fifteen minutes, Shin gave an apologetic look as he too gave a fox, a funny looking doll in fact, and just 10 minutes before that, it was Kurena. Before her were Frederica, Raiden and Annette, every single one of them decided to give him a fox doll as a birthday present.

Given how it turned out, he had to think they were just pulling his leg.

 

“Ah, and these are from Shiden. Might be too many dolls for you.”

“…You’re selling baskets of foxes to me or something!? Hey Shiden! I can hear you laughing over there!”

 

And ten minutes later, Dustin, who seemed to be out of ideas, brought a tanuki doll from a certain country, intending for it to be paired with foxes, but Theo slapped his face without thinking.

 

“…Oww…this is Sagittarius. Succeeded in delaying the target…though it appears he’s getting really angry. Is that a success?”

“Snow Witch to Sagittarius.…good work Dustin. Return now.”

 

Having successfully executed the diversion at the cost of his dignity, Dustin retreated, his footsteps heard over the Para-RAID as Anju replied so. All RAID devices were forbidden to be used within the school campus, but they had obtained special permit on this particular day, and consent would be granted for subsequent days.

 

“So Lena, please do the honors.”

“Yes, leave it to me!”

 

Lena hurriedly rushed over, her long silver hair covered with some colored powder, and she looked somewhat mottled.

And Annette, looking on, sighed,

 

“I did not think it would take that long…”

“I would not have made it in time if you have not come up with the delaying tacticー”

“…Maybe that’s a little…”

 

Next to a guffawing Shiden, Shin retorted with his eyes half opened. Lena and him had gone out to procure the materials for this delaying operation (they were out on the streets often, and everyone assumed they were out dating), and he too looked down at the fox, looking very worn out as a result.

Clapping the powder off his hands, Raiden said.

 

“Well, even though we were the ones who helped out, I guess I don’t like this after all.”

“Yeah.”

 

Kurena nodded, proud of their own efforts. She wiped her nose without noticing her fingertips were colored, chuckling while a pink line was drawn across her face.

They were in an empty classroom, no desks or chairs to be seen. The old dark green blackboard contained no traces of its original color, however.

Everyone aside from the few saboteurs had their hands covered in chalk. They ran out of chalk, were completely covered in it, and took more time than they had expected.

But even so,

 

“I guess sometimes we’ll just draw whatever we want.”

 

Five minutes later.

Theo remained wary as he was led to the classroom by Lena. Everyone here had contributed money to purchase a large trunk of art supplies he could carry along. He saw that everyone had drawn their personal marks on the blackboard, his in the middle, and he stood with his mouth agape.

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