Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 3 – The Bell of War
“Hey, hey, Archer! Western clothes, Western clothes!”
Rin firmly grasped Archer’s hand as he tried to quickly pass by the children’s clothes store.
“…We have plenty at home.”
Archer confronted Rin, looking up at him with eyes full of hope, with an air of firm denial. Sparks flew between the two.
“…The pretty western clothes we have? Archer, have you ever seen the idols on TV wearing the same clothes?”
“Right? If they’re pretty, you just hand down the same clothes year after year, don’t you? That’s unacceptable for the adorable super idol Rin! Not to mention for the world!”
“Where does the world come into all this…”
“So let us pick out one that we want!”
“Ah ha ha…”
To the side of the shocked into silence Archer, Sakura forced a smile and scratched her cheek. But the eyes looking up at Archer carried a hint of expectation.
“…Honestly. Wasn’t the plan today just to eat out? …If that was all it was, the Mount Miyama Shopping Center would have been fine. So, is that the reason you made me come all the way to Shinto?”
Two shocked faces looked at Archer.
“D-, don’t be stupid! I don’t want anything to do with that super spicy Mabo tofu!”
The two’s faces became dejected at the memory.
“Hey, if we’re going to eat into time in a place like this, we’ll fly past noon into night, and we can’t eat that.”
Trying to drive them on, Archer pushed the two small backs into a trot towards the escalator.
“Ah wa wa! I’ll fall down!”
Archer smiled wryly at the two beginning to run in confusion and drove them on.
The Fuyuki department store. It was a place of business true to its home city. The store’s history was truly a long one, one that started out as an old and traditional kimono store owned by its parent company which opened in the Meiji period and then remodeled into department stores in tandem with the city’s development. However, due to the progress of the current Shinto redevelopment, it was slated to be demolished this winter, and it seemed the Fuyuki Department Store, in the midst of a going out of business sale, was reaping great dividends everyday.
Today was a holiday, and perhaps for that reason the building was jammed with people.
Sakura began to reel on her feet from the teeming throngs of people.
“…Hey, are you alright?”
Archer lifted the discombobulated Sakura into his arms.
“Geez, you’re weak in crowds, Sakura! …Are you okay?”
Rin stared up at Sakura, looking worried.
“Ah ha ha, it bothered me a little bit. I’ll be fine if I rest a little.”
“Then let’s rest on that bench over there.”
They all sat down on a bench placed to the side of the descending staircase midway to the escalator.
“Ahh, I’m sorry…”
“It’s nothing to apologize for. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
Rin giggled and gently brushed the prone Sakura’s head.
Archer stared gently at the sisters and then rose from his seat.
“Huh? Where are you going? The Bathroom?”
“Servants don’t need to do that kind of thing. I just thought I’d get some drinks.”
“I’ll have a soda then!”
“I’d like strawberry juice.”
“Understood. Wait a moment.”
After hearing their order, Archer went towards the stairs in search of a vending machine.
Archer scanned the buildings map and proceeded down the stairs; he could hear the sisters chatting happily at his back. A flurry of conversation on the intermingled likes and dislikes of young girls.
“Just what are they talking about…”
Archer made a wry smile and ignored the conversation, diving into the sea of his thoughts.
Could this really be such a peaceful and happy time? It was a time of happiness… happiness to an extent that had been impossible in his own life.
Kill someone, and protect a smile.
For the sake of someone out there who’s crying, kill someone.
Save one hundred, and lose one.
Save ten thousand, and lose ten.
That was all he could do. Simply protect the happiness of someone. However, when he did, the one who was lost cursed him. The hundred he had saved vilified him. But even so, that was everything to him, the very thing he came to desperately live for.
His hands were always stained blood red. There was never a day when he was not showered with the blood of someone. There was never a day when there wasn’t someone crying. He noticed that, even more than there were people smiling, there were people crying out.
That was who he was.
But for the sake of protecting two girls, he had been able to pass over a year of warm days, unsullied by blood. Day surrounded by kind and trusting smiles.
And so, recently, Archer had begun to ponder it.
Is this no longer enough for you?
“Ah, there it is.”
On the floor of the side of the staircase where several payphones were lined up was a vending machine. After confirming it sold what had been requested, he opened his wallet to put in some money.
Boom…! Crash! …K-thoom!
That was a sound he had become much too familiar with in his “ordinary” life. An explosion, the sound of glass shattering, walls collapsing due to of the blast- Things he had never heard in his days of peace. Those sounds were the ringing call of battle.
A switch went off.
The things he must do, must accomplish. His own dreams. He awakened the mind’s eye that had begun to rust.
Situational Hypothesis: An explosion on the top floor of the building. Provisional Routes: Escape route, shelter course, emergency route, locations of fire hydrants: understood. First priority:
Rescuing his masters!
He heard screaming and shrieking, and the sounds of fleeing footsteps. In the ensuing pandemonium, Archer began to run. Running towards the two he must protect.
Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 3
The Bell. The Bell of War that shatters that peaceful time. That very sound forces the Bowman to remember the place he should truly be.
Run. That’s what you’re living for, right?