Part 96: Boy meets girl (V) / Present / Parting at the bridge
Most shops open at ten, but cafes and bookstores are already open.
There are already many more people than there were at Miyama City, and this place is as crowded as it is on weekends.
Music: Surrounded by Smiling Faces
Getting off the bus, Saber looks around unhappily.
It's only natural.
Saber was against this date and people passing by are looking at her curiously.
She must not feel too good about that.
" Ugh. Come to think of it, this was bound to happen if I brought Saber here in the morning."
But that's going to follow us around for the whole day.
If there's a way to calm it down, it's to make Saber have so much fun that she forgets about the people staring at her.
Sounds like an exhibitionist's line of thinking.
I pound a fist and turn to Saber.
He pounds his fist a lot. In the shed. Next to the poster of Archerkins.
"Saber. I'll ask you first. Is there any place you want to go? We've come all the way here, so we should at least do whatever we want today."
"I do not know. I have no place that interests me. Before even that, I have no knowledge on which to base such a decision."
"Really? That's too bad. Then I guess it's really up to luck. The future looks bad if you don't have anywhere you want to go and I don't have any idea where to go."
" I don't want to ask this, but you do not have a plan, Shirou?"
"Hm? Well, I have a few, but no details. Let's just go to random stores."
Well, that's still difficult.
I know places where I won't get bored, but I can't even imagine where a girl would be happy to go to.
Geez, if it's going to end up like this, I wish I'd gone out with a girl just once
" Honestly. Please do not take offence, but there is something wrong with you. Your plan to take a rest is fine, but how can you not even have a plan for that rest?"
Oh, Saber enters her scolding mode.
This is the first time she's started to complain about something outside of the dojo.
I don't think that's entirely accurate.
I knew she was irritated not being up for this and being looked at by curious eyes, but I didn't think she was this irritated.
"I have always wanted to object to your lack of planning. You are closely aware of everyone around you, but you treat yourself too carelessly.
As a result, you yourself have to pay the price for this discrepancy.
Are you listening to me, Shirou!?"
"I am. So basically, you're not happy about being here right now, right?
Well, it's natural you wouldn't like it since it's pretty obvious it's going to be boring going anywhere with me."
"I know that too. But I won't listen since I've already decided to have you accompany me today.
I won't change my mind no matter what."
I look at Saber.
Saber just looks back at me in shock.
"But I'll listen if you have something to say.
I'm sure you have complaints, so tell me them right now. I won't have to worry about making you unhappy if you do so.
If you say you don't want to go on a date, I'll think of something else."
"Um no, I do not think you need to go that far I, um "
Saber averts her gaze and runs out of words.
"You have no complaints? Then let's go.
You have no requests, so don't get mad at me wherever we go."
I'm considering an ordinary place like an aquarium.
I decide and grab Saber's hand.
" ? I don't want to waste time, so we'll be running for a while. I'll show you the way, so follow me."
"Eh no, I cannot do so in a situation like this !"
I start to run without waiting for Saber's reply.
Since I've talked big to Saber, I can't act miserable now.
I just have to take her to every possible place I can think of.
I run, holding Saber's hand.
She must have accepted it as Saber finally stops complaining and follows me quietly.
Well, it's before ten o'clock.
I'll make the two hours before lunchtime worthwhile and surprise her
Music: Gentle Everyday
Summarize?! In a Nasu story?!
We went to a boutique I usually don't go to, and we played bowling while I taught her the rules.
I couldn't find an aquarium, but we fed some birds in a park.
We also went to an antique store, and I still think it was best not to go to the movie theater.
Anyways, I kept taking her to places a girl might like for the past two hours and there were many results: honorable defeats and total defeats.
But I don't think this is what people would call a date.
This is more like a contest, a fight to the death where the first one to give up loses.
Saber is the same as usual no matter where I take her, and she sometimes goes so quiet that I seriously start wondering if she's really mad.
She gives no reaction, so I became desperate to make her happy at the next place I take her to.
As a result, I became obstinate about making Saber smile and ran around different places all morning. But it's already noon without much success.
As Saber reminded me it's time for lunch, I decided to take a short break, but
Music: Time Together
I complain once we're seated at a table.
That was the only advice Tohsaka gave me last night.
I trusted her and chose this place, but I never thought it would be so fastidious.
I look at the menu.
Fortunately, the menu has a version in Japanese as well, so I have no problems reading it.
But the trouble is, I can't understand what kind of food it is from the name and the prices are outrageous.
" Am I on Mars? I seriously don't know what I should order "
I groan, looking at the menu.
"Shirou ? Did we not come by here to eat lunch?"
I hear a rather frail voice from the other side of the table.
"Yeah, but it's too different from what I'm used to "
I raise my head.
There is Saber, with an expression like a cornered rabbit.
"If this place is not suitable for lunch, let us return to the mansion. I prefer the food you prepare, Shirou."
"Eh you mean, you want to go home?"
"No, I do not want to go back home, but, um today has been really exhausting, so I am more tired than usual."
"Really? I see, I thought about going out into town again after eating, but if you're tired, we can rest here for a while."
"No, that is not what I meant! Tired was not the word I meant. Um, it should have been "
The small gurgling sound was fortunately small enough that only I could hear.
Oh. If she was hungry, she could've just told me.
"Excuse me. So in other words, I am saying it would be helpful for us to have lunch quickly."
"Roger. Yeah, it's no fun, but let's order something safe and get our food quickly."
It's simple if all we want are light snacks.
I order two things from the lunch menu and decide to eat quickly.
I consider what to do in the afternoon while drinking the after-meal coffee.
What I learned this morning is that anything physical is not good.
Saber gets serious when it comes to contests.
That's good for me, but it makes Saber stand out even more.
After we finished a game, Saber got angry because she caught all the attention she wanted to avoid.
"So we should avoid anywhere that involves moving around
Hey, Saber? I'm asking for the second time, but is there anywhere you want to go?"
Saying so, Saber lifts her teacup.
Saber ordered English tea and it seems she really likes the taste.
We don't have much English tea at my place, and even if we did, it's all instant tea-bags.
It seems Saber was a bit dissatisfied with the drinks at my house as she seems to like English tea.
I should put that into consideration starting tonight.
Saber is sitting there and drinking tea.
She doesn't seem happy or bored.
If I had to use one word to describe her, it'd be that she looks natural.
She drinks her tea, sitting up straight in the shadows of the streaming sunlight.
Even though this is the first time I've seen such a thing, it doesn't seem strange. It feels like I've seen such a scene before.
Why do I feel that?
The Saber I know is a tense girl, who's always holding a sword and fighting.
"Oh, I see."
But it's only natural.
I also know her attitude after she lets go of her sword.
Once she stops fighting, Saber has always been calm and gentle.
This scene looks natural rather than new because this is her true nature.
No matter how superior she is as a swordsman, it is natural for Saber to be like this.
Rather, it's abnormal for her to hold a sword at all.
Everyone knows that all girls should sit quiet and look pretty, right? That's what they were meant to do.
I once thought in my dream that she wasn't suited for fighting.
I don't think I'm wrong.
No matter how superior her technique or no matter how many battles she's experienced
As long as she is who she is, it can't have been a comfortable place to be.
Music: Tender Scenery
I don't know if it's because I'm getting used to it or whether Saber is complying.
Saber still isn't talkative, but if I look closely, her expression isn't like it is when she's mad.
There's a feeling of accomplishment and happiness when I see Saber leave a shop with light steps.
Considering many factors that might make Saber happy from many angles
I'm a bit dubious, but I've determined that this shop will be the best suited for Saber.
Music: Time Together
Saber stands there dumbfounded.
I don't know if her shoulders are shaking because she's angry or because she's deeply moved.
"S-Shirou, this is ?"
"The biggest stuffed animal shop in town. I've never been here before since men aren't allowed in."
Of course, there's actually not a rule like that.
But since there're only women and no men, it's like an unwritten rule.
To prove it, there are only girls in here.
The golden-haired Saber is being stared at, but being a guy, I'm being glared at.
I'm sure they want to tell me not to come into their sanctuary.
I feel the same way.
I would not approve of men entering this place.
"Well, let's ignore everyone and look around since we're here. Saber, is there an animal you like?"
She asks me with upturned eyes.
I look away instantly and contain my laughter.
The funny thing is, Saber is strange for thinking she's strange for thinking lions are cute.
" Shirou, that gesture was unnatural. I feel unreasonable anger, but perhaps it is just my imagination?"
"Oh, sorry. Liking lions is so like you, so I had to laugh."
" ! How dare you laugh at other people's preferences!? There is nothing wrong with lions!"
"I'm telling you I'm sorry. I'll take you somewhere good as an apology, so don't get mad."
I go into the store while trying to hold my laughter.
Well, it looks like the stuffed animals are that way.
It's taken about an hour to go around the store.
I looked at Saber staring at stuffed animals and felt really nervous with all the girls there. Anyways, it was the most tiring hour so far.
But the worst part is, we've only looked through half the store.
It took us this long to look at just half of it because Saber was frequently paralyzed I mean, Saber kept staring down stuffed animals.
It looks like Saber is interested in the other half too, so I'll have to accompany her
"Shirou ? Why are you sighing? Are you tired from walking ?"
"Hm ? Yeah, I'm a bit tired. I'm usually not so weak, but this place is special. I guess I shouldn't be doing things I'm not accustomed to."
I let out a big sigh.
I don't mind being looked at by other people while walking with Saber, but a girls-only place like this is really uncomfortable.
Boredom sometimes tires one's body.
"How about you? This must be your first time in a place like this. Tell me if you're tired."
"I certainly do not feel calm, but you look more uncomfortable. Not just here, but you seemed this way in the previous store and the store before that.
I do not want to think this, but are you choosing places you do not wish to go to?"
Saber's words are enough to cast away my worries.
"Yeah. To be honest, I'm choosing places I don't like."
" As I thought. Why do you continue to choose places you are unfamiliar with? You will "
"Well, because these kinds of places are suitable for girls.
I'm the one that started this whole thing and today's your day as well."
Clearly, men and women are destined to like completely different things at all times. Therefore, something Shirou does not like must by definition appeal to Saber. This is simply natural law.
"And it's not that uncomfortable either. It's fine since you're with me. I have such a cute girl with me, so people might get jealous, but I'll never be out of place."
"H-How ridiculous. I am a Servant even though I am not armed. You do not need to treat me as a woman just because we are not fighting. Please treat me as a Servant as usual."
"You're the ridiculous one. You're a girl to begin with. It's not like I'm treating you differently today. Am I acting any differently?"
Saber opens her mouth as if she's just realized that.
"No, you are the same.
You are acting the same as always, Shirou."
"Yeah. So you don't need to worry about me.
So let's go. We're going to buy the one you like the most, so we have to go look at the remaining half."
I take Saber's hand.
Saber silently follows me.
" That is right. It has been like this from the start, but I did not realize it until this moment "
She murmurs to herself.
Music: Madder Red Town
It's not like there was any memorable moments nor were it so boring that I regret doing it.
That sentence makes me cry.
To be frank, this was nothing.
Saber might have been happier if we'd stayed at the mansion and trained together.
But today wasn't bad.
It wasn't fun or boring, but I can be proud of it in the end.
After the battle is over and everything goes back to normal
It would be too sad if all the time Saber and I had was spent fighting.
Even if it's something stupid, she has to spend some time not fighting, or there's no point in her being here.
So I can be proud of myself for now.
The end is near.
When everything comes to an end and when there's no more need to fight
If Saber will remember this moment and remember that this happened, that alone is enough for me to be proud of.
There's some wind now.
The vivid setting sun is lighting the bridge red.
Saber notices something and stops.
She is watching a mountain of rubble.
It's not that tall even though it's a 'mountain' of rubble.
Steel frames and the likes are piled right up to the water surface and are slightly distorting the flow of the river.
I don't know why, but it seems like a ship sank or something, and pieces of it flowed into a mountain.
I heard the local residents have been demanding its removal for a long time since it damages the beautiful sight.
" ? What's wrong, Saber? Did that catch your attention?"
"No, I was noticing that it still remains because I was the cause of it. I used the Noble Phantasm here, having fought on water in the previous war.
The only damage was that the river dried up, but I also destroyed the ship that was unfortunately anchored there."
"Huh? You mean Excalibur!?"
"Y-Yes. But fortunately, nobody was on board and the damage was minimal. The river is back to normal, so you should not get so mad.
" I regret it as well."
I should watch out.
I have to take care to only use Excalibur in an open place like this.
"Eh? No, I'm not mad. I was just surprised. And I was just thinking how many traces there are from the last war.
The rubble in the river shouldn't be a problem compared to the wasteland in that park. Well, I guess it was unfortunate for the owner of that ship."
"Please do not worry as Kiritsugu said the owner had insurance. He parked the ship there as a buffer, so he used the ship as a wall to reduce the power of the Noble Phantasm."
When I tried to guess which three times Kiritsugu spoke to Saber, I didn't quite guess that one of them was to tell her, "Don't worry. The owner had insurance."
" Oh. So you destroyed the ship knowing it was there?"
"I did not know! Kiritsugu prepared it without telling me.
I think Kiritsugu knew how the battle would turn out. I did not notice since he never said anything before or after he prepared the ship."
Saber looks down at the river yearningly.
The water surface reflects the sunset.
The wind coming from the river is a bit strong and flutters Saber's hair.
Is it because she looks so beautiful like that?
"Saber, did you have fun today?"
I was assaulted by a sudden fear that Saber might just disappear, and I ask something I don't need to ask.
"Huh? Did you say something, Shirou?"
"Yeah. I asked you if you had fun today."
Saber opens her eyes in amazement.
"Yes. I would be lying if I said this was not new to me."
She says so in a voice of hope.
As if such a thing will never happen again.
Music: Ever-present Feeling
I knew what her answer would be.
All I can do now is nod and just go home.
Everything can return to the way it wasjust like that.
I nod, looking at Saber.
"Then let's go again. It's not like this has to be the last time."
And I say something I won't be able to take back.
She must have realized what I want to say.
She shakes her head, looking directly at me.
As if saying there won't be a next time.
As if this mistake is only for today.
I know Saber's answer.
But I ask, not liking the answer I expect.
"I do not even need to explain. Servants exist to fight. A day like today is merely denying my own existence.
I obeyed since you decided to take a rest, but I believe resting should not be necessary from now on.
There are only a few enemies left. I would like to start searching for Lancer right now if you would order me to "
She looks at me with eyes full of fire.
Saber is saying she will start fighting right now if I order it.
Causes me to get mad about all the things I can't approve of.
"What's with that? You really want to fight that much?"
"Of course. I draw closer to the Holy Grail the more I fight.
Battle should be prioritized over everything. You should know that as well."
"Yeah, I understand. That's why it's strange.
I've always wanted to say this, but you're contradicting yourself.
You say fighting is important, but you don't like fighting. You're fighting against your will because there's no other way, right?"
"Wha that is not true. I do not hesitate to fight.
I have already told you that I will do anything to win."
Yeah, she did say that.
But that's not a reason to like fighting.
"As far as you can manage, right? Look, Saber.
If you just want to defeat other Masters and obtain the Holy Grail, you could just attack people and take their power. But you don't want to do that, right?"
"That is "
"It's not that you don't want to involve innocent people. You know well enough that people will be dying once you start fighting.
That's why you want to minimize the battles. People will die if you fight, so you want to end the battle as quickly as possible. In other words, you're frightened of fights with victims."
After opening her eyes as if she's seen a ghost, she grits her teeth and straightens her stare.
"You are wrong. I do not fear battles."
" Yeah. I don't think you were ever scared. Because an individual's fear must have been suppressed by what you call the king's mission."
"But you still fear battles.
You were strong and good at fighting. But that's not a talent you ever wanted, right?
I'll say this honestly. Fighting doesn't suit you. You must have hated even pulling out that sword.
Your claim that fighting is your only objective is just an excuse to try to deceive yourself."
Hey guys, did we mention that women shouldn't use swords yet? Because they shouldn't. Use swords. Women, that is.
It's so simple.
Why didn't you or anybody around you notice it?
"Shirou. I will not tolerate any more insults even from you."
"You can't stand it because it's the truth, right? You won't be able to fight anymore if you admit it."
She grits her teeth.
Saber glares at me in anger.
I can't back away.
If I believe I'm right, I can't run away.
" So, you should stop. You want to stop too, right? You must know fighting doesn't suit you. So just quit it.
Stop being a Servant and do something that suits you."
She needs to regain the happiness she should have had as a human.
For that, I
"How ridiculous. I have no choices besides fighting. I only exist to obtain the Holy Grail.
I submitted my body to fulfill my promise as king. I cannot allow any other use for myself."
'I only exist to obtain the Holy Grail'.
That annoys me the most.
Why does she say ridiculous things like that as if to convince herself?
Everyone around her took her word because she kept saying things like that.
"You idiot! That's not true ! There are infinite ways! You're here and different from before !
Soyou have to live for yourself.
Don't make any mistakes and don't use the Holy Grail "
The final wish she's permitted.
" Don't use it for people you don't care about.
If you're here, you need to be happy here."
"I cannot accept your words.
I made a contract to obey you, but I did not give you my heart, Master."
She replies with a strong voice.
King Arthur's goal is to obtain the Holy Grail. Even if I achieve that goal, I will not return to being Arturia.
I have only ever had one wish. This wish has never changed since I pulled out the sword."
" Why? That's not a thing you have to do.
It's wrong for you to be unrewarded for your actions.
You don't need the Holy Grail. And "
And Saber's wish won't come true.
It's impossible to erase everything that's happened.
"Saber. You can't redo what's already done. No, I think it's something you mustn't do. You should know that."
" No. That is not true."
"I'll tell you.
However bad the result, you can't change what's happened.
Wanting to redo something because you couldn't do it is just childish selfishness !"
Our words end there.
Saber doesn't say anything, and I don't have anything to say.
The wind has stopped as well.
The wind hasn't stopped, it's only died down for a second.
"Is that all you wanted to say after wasting this meaningless day?"
A cold voice.
It contains only rejection.
"Do not be so conceited. What makes you think you understand me?
You have no right to invade me.
Do not fight? What are you saying when you need me to protect you? Please, give me that nonsense after you are able to fight on your own.
Humph. I do not think that will ever occur."
"Noit's not nonsense !"
"It is nonsense. Think about myself? That goes for you as well.
You do not consider your life.
You say I am mistaken, but you are even more mistaken.
Only corpses consider others more important than themselves.
How can a fool who does not even know the value of his own life address me so?"
"WhaSaber, you "
"Did I annoy you? Then I will not mind if you dissolve your contract with me. You do not need the Holy Grail anyway.
I will defeat the remaining Masters by myself and obtain the Holy Grail myself.
If you do not wish to fight, you can go and hide somewhere far away."
"Saber. Are you serious?"
I ask with a trembling voice.
My teeth are chattering because I'm suppressing my emotion.
"Of course. My only goal is the Holy Grail. Everything else is unnecessary.
You are no exception, Shirou."
But I can't stop my emotions.
I yell what sounds like an excuse and run away from Saber.
I get away from her.
Romance is so fleeting when you're six.
But, for a moment.
I think I see Saber standing there absent-mindedly.
'Everything else is unnecessary. You are no exception, Shirou.'
I grit my teeth hard and stop myself from yelling out.
Just remembering it makes me white out and I might run into a pole or something.
No, it would be easy if I could do that.
If I was just angry at Saber, I could just take it out on something.
But that's not the cause of this fury.
It's not just Saber that I'm mad at.
It's so vexing, and I keep running so hard because I hate how weak I am.
'I thought you would understand, Shirou'
" ! Damn it! You idiot, I don't understand !"
I spit that out, then regret it so much that I almost fall.
What was it about?
Her voice like a farewell sounded like she was crying.
Come to think of it, maybe those words were the only honest thing she said.
Those words murmured with her head hung.
A voice of hope, disappointment, and wishes.
Who was the betrayer, and who was betrayed?
Music: The End of Reminiscence
"HaaHaa, haa, ha"
But my body is still burning.
My heart feels like it's splitting open and my lungs are desperate for air.
I ran full speed from the bridge to here. My body must be exhausted.
I haven't run enough emotionally, but my body is telling me to calm down.
"Haa haa, haa, ha"
I slowly calm down.
I take a deep breath and let it out.
"Haa haa haa."
And after I settle my breathing.
All that fills my head is the question of why I was so enraged.
I don't even have to think about it.
I ran as if throwing something off me because I was so powerless.
I can't save Saber.
That fact is so vexing that I was angry at myself.
I can't do anything.
I promised to make her laugh.
I promised to protect her, but I can't do anything. That makes me furious.
" But what can I do? It's useless for anyone to say anything if Saber herself doesn't want happiness."
That's why I tried hard, so she'd be able to find her own happiness.
But she told me that was meaningless, and on top of that, she called me a fool.
"A fool who doesn't even know the value of his own life, huh?"
What can I do when she says that?
I value my life as well and I don't want to do anything that might endanger it.
But this has nothing to do with Saber.
I think it's unfair of her to bring it up right there.
No matter how stupid I am, I'm sure Saber's wrong.
But if she denies me like that, I can't do anything
I don't care about Saber anymore.
If the Holy Grail is so important to her, she can go marry it.
So when can we pull out the sword of time and play as adult Shirou?
She is so obstinate that she doesn't understand after I've told her this much. I'll be burned if I associate with her any more.
No, I'll be seriously hurt.
I've already been hurt, though.
Not just burned.
I met her, fought with her many times, and even had sex with her even though it was just to survive.
The heat of that night wasn't a burn, but it almost killed my brain.
WhyWhy do I recall such a thing when I'm so pissed off?
If I recall that, it won't matter what Saber says.
" Something only used to fight? Then don't show your weak parts "
Anyways, Saber is unfair.
I don't know what's so unfair, but I think it's unfair that I don't know what's unfair.
After looking at the Japanese script, I think a better translation is: waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh
I can't hate her even though I'm this mad, and the more I try to ignore her, the more I can't. It's such a contradiction.
Her whole existence is unfair.
I can't hate her no matter what.
"Damn it. I guess the one who's in love loses "
But I can't help it.
If I can't give up no matter how useless she tells me it is, I have to keep trying until the end.
No matter how much Saber hates it or rejects me, if I believe I'm right
I remember her face, about to cry.
In the future.
Will she make that kind of a face every time I repeat this?
The Nasu ideal of romance - apologizing is something women do.