“I don’t need to go back to bed!”
Kajika shoved her stubborn friend back into the bunk anyway. She’d seen Ikoma bend steel with his bare hands. If he really wanted to fight her, he could have batted her off like a feather. “Fight’s over! Hozumi knows she should snuggle up for a nap.” She looked down at her hands, fisted in Ikoma’s coverlet. “And… what we were going to do… you don’t need to be standing.”
Ikoma sagged back against his bunk, eyes sad. “Kajika….”
“He wouldn’t want us to waste anything!” Kajika said fiercely. “And not his tools.”
She didn’t want to do this either. But if Takumi couldn’t be with them, he’d want to help any way he could.
And Takumi hadn’t left much.
“Someone should take the kimono,” Ikoma said softly, touching black and flame-red fabric. “It’s good cloth.”
I know. I bargained for it. “You could,” Kajika started.
“I’d look like a ghost.” It wasn’t quite a smile. “I mean. More than usual.”
Well, yes. Ikoma had never had much color, but since he’d become Kabaneri….
Rest helps. Blood helps. Mumei- Hozumi says he’ll get better. Believe her. “Then you keep the tools. I mean it!” Kajika squinted at him before he could protest. “You borrowed each other’s all the time. Just… keep them. They’ll work better with someone who knows them.”
“Okay.” Ikoma touched well-used leather, as if searching for a crinkle of blueprints. “We wouldn’t have any of the piercing gun notes if he hadn’t grabbed them, that night. I was… kind of out of it.”
“You’d been bitten.” Kajika jumped then, and looked around to make sure no strangers had snuck into the locomotive when she wasn’t looking. She lowered her voice, just to be sure. “Of course you were dazed. At least you took the gun!”
“Like I was going to let go of that, with Kabane everywhere.” Ikoma tapped the heavier bundle, sad and fond. “He never did get a real box for the armor.”
Kajika giggled, and swiped at a tear. “Running through Aragane with armor and a broom….”
“The broom was a good idea.” Ikoma raised a brow in thought. “If you can just shove the Kabane away – it buys you time.”