lously malnourished and frail, she looked somewhat cleaned up. Her body was still covered in bruises, and her ribs still showed, but those were all problems that could be fixed.

Those problems, however, would have to wait. Quarta hadn helped the girl out of the kindness of his heart. There was something he wanted to know.

”Prota, right? ” She nodded in reply.

”Im sure you have questions for me. I have questions for you, too, ok? So… how about we take turns? ”

The girl stared at him suspiciously. Life on the streets had taught her to be cautious, but… who else had taken her in? This man had given her a bath, clothes, a warm place, and food, for now at least, and he didn seem like he had any ulterior motives. And besides, if he tried anything, she could always…

She nodded.

”…uh… ok, you can start. ”

Wordlessly, she pointed to Zero.

”Oh, him? You want to know who he is? ”

Prota nodded.

”Well, hes my slave. He does everything I ask, runs the bar, prepares my meals- ”

Quarta stopped as Zero slapped him across the face. While Prota had seen the ghostly figure float through everything else, he was apparently capable of physically interacting with his carbon copy.

”Huh? Am I wrong? ”

”Shut up. ”

”… ” Prota stared, unable to comprehend what was going on.

”Just kidding, ” Quarta said with a sheepish smile, rubbing his cheek. ”This guy… well, hes me, I guess. Its a bit hard to explain. ”

She cocked her head to the side, confused.

Quarta shrugged. ”Really. I don know how to explain it. No one else has ever seen him, and I didn expect you to be the first. Im sure well get into it fully another time, but for now Im going to ask a question, ok? ”

”Ok. ” Quarta was surprised to hear the girl speak. Her voice was quiet and timid, but she still had actually responded.

”Are you a ”demon ”? ”

If possible, Prota seemed to become even smaller, squeezing her eyes and sinking into the sofa as if trying to disappear from existance. Quarta was about to say something when Zero held him back. Both watched as whatever she was going through passed. Finally, she looked up at Quarta.

”No. ”

While quiet, the words were spoken with more firmness and resolution than Quarta had ever heard anyone in this world speak with.

”…ok. ”

Prota looked up at him, confused.

”Is there anything else you want me to say? I believe you. Is there a reason for me not to believe you? ”

The girl hugged her legs and curled up, but it looked like a weight had audibly been lifted off of her. She didn see Quarta bury his face in his hands as he sighed, rubbing his face before lifting it back up.

”Ok, your turn. ”

She looked up, surprised. ”What? I said wed take turns asking questions, remember? ”

She thought for a bit. ”…? ”

Quarta cocked his head to the side. ”Huh? ”

”…why are you doing this? ”

Quarta looked down, rubbed his chin, sighed, and then shrugged.

”Uh… well, out of the goodness of my heart? ”

Prota looked at him. It was such a terrible lie even she could see through it.

”…does there have to be a reason for something like this? Maybe I really am just doing a good deed. Maybe I just want to help a kid out. Is there a problem with that? ”

”I… I could kill you… ” the girl protested.

”So what? I don have a lot to live for, anyways. Any life is worth infinitely more than mine. So, if I can save just one life… ”

”Why not go for it? ”

He was surprised to see Prota sobbing, but it didn sound distressed. It was more… like a release of emotions, like the pent up stress shed been building up was finally released.

”Did… did I do something wrong? ”

These words were addressed to Zero, but they were not spoken out loud. The two possessed a sort of telepathic communication capability that didn require magic or energy. It was as if by being the same person, the two shared a special bond as well.

”No, ” he said, shaking his head. ”Just let her cry it out. ”

Quarta sighed. He could have told her the real reason hed went out and found her, but that wouldn really help. There was one last question to ask before he was done with everything, but he very well couldn just kick her out of the house.

”Prota. One more question. ”

She looked up through wet eyes and nodded.

”Have you ever seen something that looks like a glowing red orb, something that radiates pure energy? Anything like that? ”

Prota shook her head, looking confused. She didn even recognize the description. Quarta sighed and nodded.

”Ok. Thats all. ”

After a while, she just feel asleep. Quarta took a towel and wiped her face, drying the tears, and took the now dry cloak hed given her and draped it over her like a blanket.

Quarta went downstairs, filling up a mug with a strong liquor. He was only seventeen, but it was his bar to run, and besides, everyone thought he was at least twenty or so. His finished it with an explosive ”pah ” and slammed the glass onto the counter.

”Shes a kid, man, ” he sighed, shaking his head. ”Thats just so **ed up. ”

”Its not a fair world, Quarta, ” Zero shrugged. ”You did what you could. ”

Quarta stared out the window at the full moon in the sky. The rain had finished, and the clouds had parted to display the night sky in all its beauty.

”…shes six. You know how old I was when I went through all the shit I did? I was fourteen. Hell, I was technically way older than that. Whats with the fear of touch? Does she think Im going to hurt her? ”

”Why are you acting like you care so much? Isn she just a character? In the end, you were just trying to see if she had your memories. Admit it. Someone who kills with just a touch. That sounds like a lead on your memories, doesn it? Thats why you asked her if shed seen the orb. You just thought she was a lead to something more. So Ill ask one more time: why do you care so much? ”

Quarta rubbed his chin. ”You know, she asked me the same thing. I really don know. ” he sighed and shrugged. ”Is there an issue with helping a little kid? ”

”Youve killed little kids before. ”

”What does that have to do with helping them? ”

Zero remained silent. Quarta had scored a point.

”Is it because she reminds you of Emma? ”

”… ” a shiver went through Quartas body as he heard a name from another life.

”No, ” he said finally. ”They
e not the same. ” He took a deep breath and sighed once more. ”Whats with all the questions all of a sudden? ”

”… ” Zero shook his head. ”I wanted to see if you would realize it yourself. She reminds you of yourself, Quarta. Her lack of emotions is a barrier that protects her. She finds it hurts more to feel and be betrayed, and so refuses to feel at all. ”

Zeros eyes stared deep into Quartas which were upon close observation lifeless, unlike the smile he sometimes wore. If Prota had cared to look into Quartas eyes at any point during their conversation, she would have seen the same thing.

Soulless, lifeless eyes, devoid of emotion.

”She refuses to feel, ” Zero repeated. ”Just like you. ”

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