Part 248: Matou Sakura (II)
A mysterious red knight lures Shirou away with vague promises. When later questioned about his peculiar perversion, he only responds, "a man never tells."
Shirou passes a murder scene on his way to school. When he arrives, he runs into Mitsuzuri, who complains about Shinji. At lunchtime, Shirou shares a private lunch with his pal Issei. Totally not gay. They also talk about the murder.
Yet another choice that didn't appear before. It should be pretty clear which one keeps you on the Sakura path.
Music: Surrounded by Smiling Faces
" Dammit, Sakura will be at her club too."
Well, I've come this far.
I'll go to her classroom, and when I've checked she's not there, I can head to work.
There's no one in the classroom.
All the students have gone to their respective destinations.
In that red classroom, a lone shadow remains.
I enter the red world and call out to her.
The face, covered by her long hair, looks even more lifeless than this morning.
"What is it? Do you have some business here?"
"No, I have nothing to do here. I was just worried about you. You seemed a bit sick this morning."
Sakura makes a gloomy face.
She's clearly not doing well.
"Sakura, if you don't feel well, you should go home. I can walk you to the intersection, so let's go together."
" No, I'm fine. I don't feel bad.
I'm going to go to the club as usual and have dinner at your place after that.
I'm okay, so please don't worry."
She picks up her bag and starts to walk like she's running away.
Sakura almost falls over just from being grabbed.
I quickly pull her hand back.
The body I'm dragging is surprisingly light.
"Y-You surprised me Sakura, are you really all right?
You're not standing steadily at all."
Sakura looks away apologetically.
Geez, what's wrong with her today?
"Anyways, you're skipping the club today. I'll skip my work too, so let's go home."
Sakura is silent and does not answer.
She doesn't shake my hand off, but it also seems she won't go home obediently.
"What's going on, Sakura? You know it's pointless to go to the club like that."
" You're right. But Nii-san wants me to, so I have to go,"
If she says so with a face like that, I can't respond.
It seems the circumstances at Sakura's house are complicated and they're not something I can meddle with.
No matter how much I think she is part of my family, her real family is the Matous.
Whatever I say, they're just the words of an outsider.
" You're only going to watch at the club?"
Sakura likes to watch.
"Huh ? Oh yes. I know myself that I can't shoot right now."
"I see. So you're basically just preserving Shinji's authority."
I pull out a chair and sit on it.
I also pull another chair out from the desk next to it.
"Just sit down. I won't try to stop you from going to the club, but rest for a while. You can tell Shinji I held you up and made you late."
"I-I can't say that ! If I do, Nii-san will, uh "
"Shinji messes with me all the time.
It's nice that he has something to talk about every day.
And it's not a lie, so you shouldn't feel guilty saying it."
I urge Sakura to sit down.
Sakura sits down quietly.
"All right. Then, wait here for a while. I'm going to go and steal some tea from the student council room. You're forbidden from standing up until I come back."
" Huh? But you might get into trouble "
"Only if a teacher finds me. Hey, I'm used to this. There's no problem unless I run into a teacher in the hallway, so you can wait here."
"I-I can't. I can't wait here while you're doing something dangerous. Senpai, I don't care about the tea."
"I'm saying it's not dangerous. Just sit down. Drinking tea in the classroom is a good thing to try once."
Music: Madder Red Town
Time passes slowly since we're not talking.
Sakura isn't the talkative type, and she often just stares at the scenery.
I guess she's more relaxed by herself.
Come to think of it, Sakura wants to be alone a lot.
It's not like she's excluding herself from the crowd, but she wants to isolate herself within the crowd. She looks outside the crowd more than in it.
That must be why she stayed here in the classroom.
Sakura doesn't actively try to spend time with others.
Fuji-Nee and I are special.
Even I wouldn't have known her if I hadn't met Shinji.
I sneak a glance at Sakura.
When Shinji introduced me to her 4 years ago, she was just a small girl.
Now she's my junior who comes to help around the house, and her childish image is disappearing.
Sakura has grown beautiful.
No, she was beautiful before, but I think she's become too beautiful as a member of the opposite sex.
On top of that, she's thoughtful and gentle.
With that many good qualities, I can understand her being called beautiful alongside Tohsaka Rin.
But it's strange, I don't understand it.
Sakura is alone often.
She doesn't seem to have any friends in the archery club, and seeing how she's alone in this classroom, she might not have any friends in her class either.
Come to think of it, I only know Sakura from the archery club and from my place.
I don't know how she is at school or at home.
While I think about this, looking up at the red sky
"Senpai, do you remember?"
Looking outside, Sakura asks me a question.
" ? Remember what?"
"It was a long time ago, back before I met you "
"Um, you mean before we knew each other ?"
"Yes. It was four years ago, right when I entered this school.
I wasn't used to the school, and I was walking about aimlessly when I saw something strange.
" Yeah, I really wonder how it ended up like that.
Even though it was after school and the track team had left, someone was still running around alone. When I looked closer wondering what he was doing, I realized that he was doing high jumps by himself."
It must be a lovely memory, as Sakura is smiling happily.
"It was a really red sunset. Everything was red and beautiful, but so lonely.
In it, he just continued to run alone. Running, jumping, dropping the pole, and repeating. There was no one around and he clearly couldn't jump over it, but he kept on trying.
"It wasn't something that could be done with effort. The pole was way over his head.
Even I could tell that it was impossible, so he must have known as well."
I understand, but I wonder what she's talking about.
I don't think it's strange to see someone practicing even after school.
" Wow. Maybe he was on the edge? Like the next day was the test, and he wouldn't get chosen unless he could jump that high?
"No, that wasn't it. He wasn't on the track team or anything."
Oh, I see.
Well, that's fine But why are you smiling, Sakura?
"And then, while I was watching him, I realized. He didn't care about what he was doing. He just happened to run into something he couldn't do, and he was obstinate about not losing.
The sun set, and he just cleaned up and went home. He must have been really tired, but he walked away calmly like nothing had happened."
"I don't get it. If he quit, that must mean he jumped over it, right? So how high was it?"
"Ahahaha, well, the thing is, he couldn't jump over it. He tried for 3 hours, but he was convinced at last that he couldn't jump over it."
"Man, that's some ending."
He's probably someone very dependable.
But that made me feel uneasy and lonely."
Her voice itself sounds so lonely, it seems like it will be swallowed by the red in this room.
"Okay, I understand the story But what about it, Sakura?"
"No, it's okay if you don't understand. That just means that even though it looked that way to me, it was just an everyday thing for him."
Despite her gloomy mood earlier, Sakura smiles sweetly.
And then, even though I'm pretty dull, I understand when she puts it like that.
I don't remember it myself, but four years ago was right after my father died.
Back then, I did lots of reckless things, so I guess I did something like that.
Back then, he was so small that I thought he was my age."
I wish she wouldn't talk about my height back then.
Well, I'm not that tall even now, but I did grow, you know?
"I-I see. That's the first time I heard that."
I look away. She saw me during an embarrassing moment.
"Oh, the bell."
It's been thirty minutes since I stopped Sakura. The clock says four-thirty.
"I guess I held you up too long. I'll clean up, so you can go on ahead. You feel better, right?"
Sakura gets up.
It doesn't seem like she's bluffing as she really seems well.
"Yeah oh, sorry Sakura. I have to go to work now. I'll be late today, so you don't have to push yourself to come to my place."
"I understand. Then I'll just cook your dinner and leave."
Sakura bows and leaves.