at his worried words.
Maybe it was because he thought I was hurt because of him.
I busily moved my hands to clear the empty plate.
When the cart was pushed, the bowls clashed and rattled.

“Then, I’ll get going.”

Leaning on the bed, Emilian nodded instead of answering.
I could still see the lack of energy in his eyes.
But since he had finished eating, there was no excuse for me to stay here any longer.
Before leaving the room, I glanced back and looked at Emilian.
It was to deliver an obvious message that almost slipped my mind.

“There may be an experiment tomorrow.”

Researchers didn’t let the experimental children off the hook just because they were ill.
Unless it was a really serious situation, they wouldn’t stop the experiment. 

Emilian answered after a moment of silence.

“…Okay.”

Children would cry in fear even when hearing the word ‘experiment.’ But Emilian only answered with a dull voice.
As if he had already prepared for what would happen to him.
It was heartbreaking to see him so determined.

‘I guess the fever will go down soon.’

It was an arduous experiment even with a healthy body.
But it would be even more difficult to bear it with an ill body.
I shook my head slightly as I left Emilian’s room.

‘…I said I wouldn’t care.’

After all, I was planning to leave him alone and run away in the end.

‘But what’s the point with such pitiful sympathy…?’ Giving any kind of affection was poison to him and me.
I recalled the faces of the children who couldn’t stand the harsh experiments and died.

‘In any case, me…’

No one could save me.
Nor in the future.
So, it was good to stop with the clumsy sympathy at this point.

I was about to grow weak.
So I tried to erase Emilian’s face from my mind.

 

*     *     * 

 

The daily routine of the lab errands children began early in the morning.
Because of that, most children eat dinner and go to bed early.
After dinner, the children went back to their lodging one by one.

Instead of following the path leading to my dorm, I took another route.
Even though the dining hour had passed, the researcher glanced at me as I was wandering around.
However, they soon stopped paying attention.
Compared to the experimental children, the children who ran errands had some freedom of movement.
Of course, not for the children, but for the researchers to find us more comfortably. 

I grabbed some items from the warehouse and walked quickly.
I went up the dimly lit stairs.
And soon, I stopped in front of the room with a plaque marking ‘No.
175.’ It was Emilian’s room.

‘Let’s just check if the fever has gone down and then come out…’ It’d be fine to go in and out real quick.
I gently opened the door in case I would wake up Emilian.
The light from the lamp flickered across his sleeping face.
The boy didn’t even move, as if he was sleeping soundly.
Carefully, I reached out and took Emilian’s body temperature.

It was hot.

‘The fever hasn’t gone down yet.’

Emilian’s hair was drenched in sweat.
A small groan escaped between his chapped lips.

“Ugh…”

Seeing him suffering from fever, my previous resolution felt meaningless. 

‘I was going to leave after checking his condition but… I can’t just leave him like this.’ I sighed a little.
Then, I dipped a towel in a bucket of water and squeezed it.

[tl/n: Just checking but you came with water and a towel? AHA]

These were the items I brought just in case after stopping by the warehouse.
I carefully placed the towel on Emilian’s forehead.
His long eyelashes twitched and trembled as the cold wet towel touched him.
He tossed and turned a little, but that was all.

‘Phew~ luckily he didn’t wake up.’

The cold, wet towel quickly became lukewarm.
Time passed as I changed the towel a few times,

‘Yikes- I have to go.’

Emilian’s fever went down a bit as if it was worth it to wipe his forehead until my wrists were sore.
Looking at him with a calmer face than before, I feel somewhat relieved.

‘…I thought I said I should keep our distance.’

Only this one time.
The experiment will be tough, it bothers me if he’s sick.
I’m really not going to pay him any more attention starting tomorrow.

Like that, on the way back to my room, I kept repeating my new resolution in my heart.

 

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