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Fushimi had never felt anything as strong as rejection by his mother. Fushimi Kisa paid about as much attention to Saruhiko as she did to the walls: she was aware if he happened to be around.

Even so, the first time the Lieutenant, Awashima Seri, thanked him for a report and a job she thought he'd done well, she gave a tiny barely there smile and said, "I'm glad we have you."

It startled Fushimi. He'd received praise before but never like this, never from someone like her. He nodded stiffly and left quickly.

It felt vaguely, warmly, like acceptance.