Episode 33 The Vampire City
She had always been a busy woman, so much so that a casual glance at her profile would bring up waves of anxiety, as if she would turn to you the next second, asking “what’s up” with the sternest face and sharpest gaze. Yet when she lay in silent in the ward with half of her face covered in gauze, the hasty aura that always surrounded her faded, replaced by breezes of uneasiness.
Seiichi Munakata leaned over. He knew she was tough. Even though unconscious, she did not look like she was just viciously attacked by a vampire. Determination was written on her face. Megumi Iruma was her name, and he longed to call her Megumi-chan, but what came out of him had always been “Commander”, a cold yet honorable title.
Munakata was never a sentimental man. Over the past few years as GUTS’ vice commander and so-called “Leader”, the frequent contact with terror and death numbed him. He had learned to swallow up a lot of things. Pride, anger, hatred, pain… But it all felt different this time. He was not able to suppress whatever sentiment that poured out of his heart. The sight of wounded Commander Iruma left him indebted.
Daigo was there too. That kid also fought hard. Munakata tried to strike a conversation with the young man, but ended up retelling a story that he had told himself millions of times. Only this time out loud.
“Back in my defense force days,” he heard the hoarse echo bouncing off empty walls, “I made a mistake that almost cost me my life. “
Daigo listened closely. There seemed to be something, some connection, between Leader and Commander that the Inheritance of Light feared to break.
“Just when I thought it was over,” Munakata paused, brushing Commander Iruma’s face with a tender gaze, “she risked her life to bring me back from certain doom.”
And since that incident, Munakata had devoted his trust to this fierce, decisive, strong woman. Being promoted to GUTS seemed so long ago, as he did not even remember the last time the name Munakata was not brought up alongside Iruma. The sight of the white “IRUMA” against the red leather jacket brought him a special kind of comfort. And so did the woman herself.
Everyone in GUTS praised Munakata for his diligence, but few knew that burying himself in work was an escape. From screeching monsters, from spitting gunshots, and from whatever complicated feeling that this very woman brought him. It was like the Zelda gas, slow at first, creeping in from unnoticed corners, and then all at once. He did not know when or how it happened, only that one day, he looked at her for an uncomfortably long time, drowned in her ambience, and was snapped back to reality by Rena’s elbow and a suggestive cough.
“I am not ready for a world without you,” he murmured.