Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 38 – The Red Boy.
The evening sun striking the window illuminated the room. Knitting his eyebrows as his shoulder throbbed periodically, Archer ran his eyes over the room’s interior.
You might say it was Western style- the varieties of gaudy furniture and upholstery were pleasing to the eye, but the guest room appeared to have been left unattended to. Scattered piles of accumulated dust simply ruined the effect. It seemed to have long been abandoned as a passenger boat. The decaying state of the room made a deep frown cross Archer’s face.
“The old ship, huh…”
With a little “You can’t let them find you, right?”, the young boy had guided Archer to his “secret base”. Waiting beyond after passing through a rotten fence with a “Private Property” sign adhered to it was the pier along the riverside. “The base” was anchored to the quite harbor, lined with old construction cranes and warehouses. It was the old ship Archer had noticed from the bus on the bridge the day of the explosion at the Fuyuki Department Store.
“Neat, huh? This is my secret base!”
“…Just how are we going to get in there?”
“Okay, look close at the crane that’s stopped over there. The tip is touch the side of the boat, right?”
“Hm? …I see. Yes it is.”
“We can get in from there!”
The cargo loading crane had contact with a portion of the boat’s side, and there was a gap large enough to enter part of the a corridor on the first floor deck.
“What a rough mooring… Is it because it’s wearing out? But I guess kids wouldn’t know it was scary…”
“Don’t come here anymore. You would get hurt if you fell.”
“…Oooh. B- but, you’re here this time Mister, so it’s fine, isn’t it?”
“Honestly… In any case, it’s practically in pieces. I can’t be scrapped, could it?”
“I dunno. But after I found the boat, no one else found it, and I didn’t see anyone ever.”
Unable to waste magical power, Archer did not attempt his Structural Analysis magic, but in so far as he relied on a sixth sense regarding matters related to sorcery, he could not feel the uncomfortable sensation peculiar to a magician’s encampment. After confirming there were no signs of people in the nearby area, Archer entered the old ship, carrying the boy.
“Thanks for waiting!”
The red haired boy opened the door and stepped inside carrying a large emergency box in his arms. He appeared to have hidden food, snacks, toy weapons, and other items out of some survival kit inside the ship, and calling it a secret base did not necessarily seem like an inaccurate representation.
“Okay, I’ll put them on, I guess.”
Ascertaining the condition of Archer’s wounds, the boy began his first aid, and spoke without taking his eyes off of his work.
“…What is it?”
“You’re a liar, even though you’re an adult.”
“…There’s things you’re better off not knowing in your life. You’ll understand when you grow up.”
“When you talk about fancy stuff, aren’t you just going in circles? When adults starts saying stuff that’s convenient for them at times like that, they’re usually covering up something bad. That’s what my mom says.”
“…She’s quite a mother.”
Archer spontaneously made a wry smile. The boy smiled happily as if he had scored a point. But the boy took his eyes off of the wounds for only a moment, and then he returned to the treatment.
He was probably the same age as Rin and Sakura. He was in the Boy Scouts, wasn’t he? But the boy’s enthusiasm for “fixing” and his concentration was not that of a child, and his zeal no doubt strengthened his skills. It was care far more thorough than the one-armed Archer had done.
When he reached his shoulders, the busily moving boy stopped his hand.
“…Hm? What’s wrong?”
“…Ah. No. I won’t ask.”
“…? What do you mean?”
“Umm… Last year, my dad got into a car wreck, and he was really hurt. We got a phone call in the middle of the knight, and mom got really upset and started crying, and I didn’t know who to do. I kept saying it would be okay, and we went to the hospital together.”
“Dad was really badly injured. Mom just cried, and I didn’t know what to do either. I couldn’t do anything… So, I just cried too.”
“We couldn’t do anything for Dad. But… When the surgery was done, Dad survived. I was so happy.”
“…I-, I see… I’m glad.”
Unconsciously lured by the boy’s happy face, a smile of relief appeared on Archer’s lips. Losing family members. It was good… He hadn’t had to experience something so sad. Seeing Archer’s expression, the boy also grinned.
“Heh heh… Thanks! Then, I said thank you while I was crying to the doctor who came out of the operating room. And then…”
“He said he was glad, and it was fine… now… And with a really gentle face… He cried. And smiled at me.”
The boy wiped the tip of his nose, and then started directly at Archer and spoke.
“…Mister, your smile just now was the same.”
“When I met you for the first time, Mister, you made that girl calm down, right? The doctor made me smile too… When I was just crying. I wanted to make someone smile like that, and I wanted to be a strong man who could get my mom calm down.”
“I treated a friend of mine who was hurt. It was the first time, and I was really clumsy, but he said ‘Thanks!’ and smiled at me. …I was really happy! So I’m going to do what I can do, to make other people smile. I’ve decided!”
A smile across his whole face. But the smile dimmed a little, and the boy turned his eyes to the wound on Archer’s shoulder.
“…All of this stuff that happened to someone like you, Mister. You definitely got hurt protecting someone, right?”
“Heh heh, so… I won’t ask. It’s kind of embarrassing to say all of that stuff out loud… Plus, you’re super cool, Mister! It’s cooler when you don’t know the hero’s identity, right?”
Rubbing his nose shyly, the boy smiled.
“Ah, I said it… I-, it’s not cool, huh? Keep what I just said a secret, okay!?”
Lit by the evening light, cheeks died red like an apple. An embarrassed smile, radiant.
That. That gesture. Those feelings.
The boy shining bright red and illuminated by the fading sun.
And the target that must be destroyed that slept inside Archer. For the first time, they joined.
He had thought about their meeting. He would have searched for him if they had not met.
He would… Kill him.
The boy’s name was Emiya Shirou. The name of his old self.
A fool of a man who had fallen chasing his mad dream.
Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 38.
If the two should meet.
The beginning and the encounter should be different. The childish dreams the boy spoke of resembled what he himself had once embraced far too much. That was why he noticed. That was why he noticed just who the boy was.