Upon hearing Onuki's request, Kanai left to the gym for morning practice, and Orisa took the girl back to the dorm, as their room seemed to be the most secure and secluded place available.
They were sitting on their beds in complete silence. Onuki looked down at her feet, while Orisa was staring at the girl expectantly with a rather calm expression. On the inside, however, she was panicking and screaming in horror, not knowing what to do or what to make of this situation.
A few more minutes had passed before Orisa decided to break the silence:
"How are you?" she asked, but there was no reply. The only change was that now Onuki was looking at Orisa with a studying expression. "I understand that you hate me now, both for what I did yesterday and who I am. I can only say it again, I'm-."
"Be quiet, would you?" she interrupted Orisa's apologetic plea with a slightly irritated voice.
Onuki kept staring at her for a few more minutes before she finally began to talk:
"You were not kidding? You are a man?"
"Why would I, especially after your confession? Well, I was a man before. Who or what I am now is yet to be discovered."
"Tell me briefly about yourself, your life, who you were before," she continued with the same voice showing a hint of irritation.
"Um? Well, okay, I guess. I was 33 years old when a vehicle hit me, and I ended up here. Before that, I had been working in the entertainment industry for eleven years. Started small, ended as a team leader, had a few somewhat successful projects. I was never married, had no kids, the last relationship ended a few years prior to my death."
"So that's why you are more into girls?"
"Well, of course. I won't deny that this body tends to react to men from time to time, but the idea is sending me chills, ugh," after Orisa's answer, Onuki became quiet again. Orisa couldn't bear that silence and decided to ask, "how do you feel right now? By the look of it, you are more or less-."
"Don't talk unless I ask something. You are getting on my nerves," Onuki kept glaring at Orisa, and then suddenly said, "So all this time in the shower, during our workouts, every time we were changing, you kept staring?"
"I wasn't staring! You won't believe me anyway, but all this time I was agonizing over that fact, I even despised myself at first!" Orisa let out a long sigh while recalling her mental anguish. "Later I got used to it, of course. But I never stared at you or any of the girls. I mean, I'm not some teenager who has never seen a girl in his life."
"Why did you want me to tell my story? Don't lie!" she shivered after remembering the night talk.
"Because I got addicted to the things you did to me, and wanted to get more. But my conscience would have killed me if I did something to you without telling," Orisa's tone became serious, and she was absolutely honest with Onuki, maybe for the first time, "Also, because of the squad; it's a grave mistake to have a healer who may falter when getting into contact with a male squad member. I wanted to know to understand if it was possible to overcome your issues and bring you into the squad permanently."
"And what do you think now?"
"About what?" replied a slightly confused Orisa.
"About me overcoming these issues and staying with the squad?"
It might have been Orisa's imagination, but she sensed a faint trace of hope in Onuki's voice.
"I don't know? I mean, you went through hell and was deeply wounded in the process, but somehow you were able to work with the squad in the Dungeon," Orisa paused, looking at Onuki with a puzzled expression. "Why are you asking me that now?"
Onuki was silently staring at Orisa with a raised brow, which made her shuffle uncomfortably under the girl's intent gaze.
"Don't you hate me now? I thought you were going to leave after everything."
"Do you want me to leave?" Onuki asked angrily.
"No, of course not!"
After a few more minutes of silence, Orisa tried to ask again:
"How do you feel right now?"
Onuki let out a depressed sigh and dropped on the bed. Looking at the ceiling, she started talking:
"I'm alive now, but the night was not as great..."
"I'm sorry for leaving you alone. I just thought that-."
"Are you going to listen or talk? Pick one," level of irritation in her voice grew further, so Orisa promptly shut up.
"You forced me to dig up a lot of shit I never wanted to remember, and it messed my head a lot. Then your part came up, and you run away like a complete bitch, oh sorry, like a complete dick, leaving me to go through everything alone."
Onuki was staring at the ceiling and chewing on her lips in frustration. For the first time in her life, she felt such a mixed set of feelings; hurt, depressed, frustrated, disappointed, and lost. Even after thinking about her situation most of the night, she still didn't know what to do, how to feel about it, or what would come out of this whole ordeal.
"At first, I thought I wouldn't make it. After going through everything again instead of receiving the support, I got another shot from you of all people. It was hard to breathe, you know?"
Onuki was not used to telling people how she really felt. She silently opened and closed her mouth a few times, trying to say how lonely and hurt she was back then, but no word came out. Her cheeks burned from embarrassment when she imagined talking about this; for some reason, it was way harder to talk about the things she felt now than it was about her past.
"I didn't know what to do. At first, I wanted to pack and leave this goddamn place. And you know what?" Onuki let out a bitter laugh. "Where was I supposed to go in the first place? Leave the Military? And do what exactly? Go to a basic division where god knows what was waiting for me?"
Onuki couldn't say out loud the most important part, but among other things she still liked Orisa. She felt better in her presence as well. So the first thing she did after meeting Orisa today was to try and gauge her feelings towards a newly discovered person. That's why she had been staring at the girl this whole time.
"The awesome truth is that I don't have anyone or anything besides you and your dumb happy-go-lucky friends. And the more I thought about it, the more obvious it became. I neither can, nor do I want to leave, alright?!"
Onuki earlier inspection revealed that something was, without a doubt, broken in the image of the girl she had been looking at today. As if looking at a painting with a hole at its corner, Orisa now had a flaw to her that made Onuki feel alerted and wary. And this sensation was constantly clashing with her previous feelings towards Orisa. She felt that she could trust that person, but didn't want to approach her; she was needed and welcomed here, but at the same time felt a hint of repulsion towards the girl. Hot and cold, sweet and sour, soft and hard, the mixture of these feelings was maddening.
"If you hadn't told me, nothing would have happened. But I'm sure I would have died right on the spot after learning the truth somehow, so at least for that, I'm thankful to you."
"Honestly, I hate you," Onuki said after a long pause, and a pained expression appeared on Orisa's face. "But I'm not dumb, so I understand your situation. Maybe there was a better choice? Maybe you could have done it properly? But I do understand that it was tough to be in your spot, so I can't bring myself to hate you."
She rubbed her eyes in frustration. This situation was a huge mess that she couldn't find a way to fix. Despite its horrible drawbacks, her previous life taught her to be strong but reasonable; it made her be a good judge of people's characters. And she, to an even bigger frustration, understood that Orisa was not a bad person. And she didn't want to leave that girl's side even after everything she learned.
"Now you have a chance to throw me out because your awesome squad has no need of such broken and crazy people right?" Onuki sat on the bed to face Orisa. After a few seconds, she added with an irritated voice, "You can talk."
"I don't want you to leave, but I also don't know how to help you get better with your condition."
Orisa was able to relax and start breathing now. She dreaded the outcome, but it appeared to be way better than she hoped and deserved. Onuki was both strong-willed and smart, thanks to these traits she managed to fight a huge pile of crap Orisa unloaded onto her. And that made Orisa feel relief and joy.
"As if I know that. But as far as I'm concerned, you are a perfect candidate to practice my social men skills, since you are somewhere in the middle."
"Do you mean it?" Orisa still could not believe it.
"Are you an idiot or something? Actually, let me test something."
She stood up in front of Orisa and pulled her shirt up. The moment before her chest could be seen, her hands stopped. Orisa saw that both her fists turned white from how tense she was clutching them. The girl shivered and slumped back onto her bed, panting and sweating.
"Are you alright!?" Orisa jumped from her bed and dashed to check on Onuki.
"No touching!" she groaned in a hoarse voice. Ten seconds later, she finally caught her breath and said, "test failed."
"You don't need to push yourself too hard, gosh," Orisa said uneasily. "Look, I can leave the room for you. I can't even imagine how hard it is for you now..."
"And how am I supposed to get better then? Don't be stupid, that's the whole point of hosting a lecher by my side."
"I'm not a lecher, damn."
"Anyway, I'd like to rest a bit. Do you need something from me right now?" Onuki was pale and sounded tired.
"I need you to be my friend, is that okay?" added Orisa smoothly.
"Like hell. After what you did to me yesterday, you'll need to earn it from scratch," she grumbled and turned away from Orisa, covering her whole body with a blanket.
"Gladly! And thank you for staying with us."
When Orisa was in the doorframe, she heard a barely audible whisper coming from Onuki's bed:
"Thanks for not giving up on me."