Suzuki was looking him over careful as a stuck gear. “Hozumi?”
Ikoma jerked his head down the line of cars. “She’s back on the last car, listening. In case there’s a Nue.”
Suzuki nodded, thoughtful. “You know what a Fused Colony feels like, too.”
“Not from the inside,” Ikoma admitted. “It might give her an edge.” He made himself shrug. “Besides. She knew I’d want to get cages if I could. And she doesn’t like… operations.”
“Don’t think you like them either,” Suzuki mused. Looked down the hayajiro’s length. “Lot of fighting. Did she take lunch?”
Oh, Suzuki was going to give him one of those looks, the kind just a few people on this hayajiro knew him well enough to give: you’re not taking care of yourself and you know better. “…I gave her mine.” Of course he was carrying a spare for emergencies, but… that didn’t really make it better. Hozumi had lived as a Kabaneri for two years. She ought to be responsible.
But she’s still a kid, sometimes. Biba taught her how to fight. Not how to grow up.
Well, if she reminded him that much of his little sister, he’d have to be the responsible big brother and get her to think. She was the Koutetsujou’s bodyguard; she had to act like it.
Maybe Lady Ayame could help?
He definitely needed somebody’s help. Because there was the Look, clear even behind lenses and leather.
“Thought so.” Fishing in his sleeve, Suzuki handed over a red-banded tube.
Gingerly, Ikoma took it. “It’s… cold?”
“Lasts longer this way,” Suzuki said practically. “But we don’t know if having it cold’s good for you two. Want to try it?”
Cold water had been fine. A tritu, as Suzuki put it. A cold meal… probably couldn’t be too bad. And Suzuki knew what to do if it wasn’t. Which was mostly, get help. Armed help. Fast.
Cool and thick. Different. But it soothed the dry thirst the way it should, gray exhaustion lifting.
Ikoma finished the tube off, and waited. Soup had seemed okay too. At first.