[Siegfried x Karna] A Silver Lining in an Otherwise Bleak Day (Alternatively I Ran Out of Ideas for Titles)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Fate/Grand Order

Rating: K

Pairing(s): Siegfried x Karna

Genres: fanfiction, AU, humor

Characters: Karna, Siegfried, Tamamo no Mae

Summary:

Featuring Karna as a part-timer as a café slash tea shop and Siegfried as a regular patron

Karna was having an abysmal day.

No, he didn’t have a penchant for being dramatic; on the contrary, ‘abysmal’ was still putting it mildly.

He hadn’t been born under a lucky star, that Karna had learned and accepted for a long, long time, but as far as he could recall, he had not ever experienced a day so choke-full of unfortunate incidents – except that day when he had been brought to live with his mother’s family after his father’s death – that he briefly considered flinging everything over his shoulder and left the city, perhaps the country, consequences be damned. He couldn’t, however, not before he graduated from college, got a degree and accumulated a decent sum of savings; free rent was the only provision he’d allowed himself to receive; everything else he would work to gain on his own. Until then he would grind his teeth and bear through whatever ‘trial’ – to think positively like his wise yoga instructor had said – life decided to throw his way.

Still, it seemed The Man Upstairs had wanted to test him because his usual moderately low luck had reached a new low today. Everything started when his senile but trusted alarm clock, the last gift from his late father, had perished quietly during the night, causing him to get up half an hour later than usual. Half an hour might not be long to other people, but to Karna, who had a pretty tight schedule consisting of studying and working part-time and who treasured time as much as money, this was catastrophic. In half an hour, he could dress, finish his breakfast of toast and last night’s leftovers, run to the bus stop and get himself a seat on his long way to his college. But since he had lost those precious thirty minutes, he had to cut a few things off his normal routine, his breakfast included, and rushed to the bus stop, yet still he was late for his usual bus and had to wait for another ten minutes for the next one. He would have made it in time to catch his bus if only Arjuna hadn’t nonsensically tried to pick a fight with him over some trivial matters he was unable to remember due to working a six-hour shift and going home completely drained. His relationship with his half-brother hadn’t been exactly the exemplary relationship between siblings, and since the very first day Karna stepped into their small family of three, claiming a portion of their mother’s affection and attention, Arjuna and he hadn’t been able to get along. Despite their mother’s endless efforts to bring her sons closer, renting an apartment for them to live together during college years being one of them, they remained at odds; on a good day, they left each other to their own device like two perfect strangers sharing a common living space, and on a bad day, they argued and fought over the smallest thing. Today happened to be one of those worse days. Having decided quarreling with his brother wasn’t worth his time, Karna played his best card: ignoring Arjuna’s tantrum and leaving him fuming in the living room to run to the bus stop. Arjuna would likely brought it up again tomorrow but he could deal with it later; at the moment, getting to his class on time was Karna’s top priority.

He arrived at his college’s gate fifteen minutes late, frustrated, worn out, and probably forming a few bruises under his clothes due to having been bumped against several muscular bodies during his ride. The bus had been packed like a tin of sardines with jocks from a nearby high school and it had been impossible to get a seat, and thus he had had no other choice but to spend the next forty-five minutes standing and trying not to get his feet stepped on. His day was bad enough without a stubbed toe, thank you.

If there was something more catastrophic than getting late to his history class, which was taught by the professor well-known for being the strictest in the whole department, it was forgetting his essay on the history of ancient India in the rush. In a rare display of mercy after hearing his truthful reason, Mr. Ronalds let him turn in the essay tomorrow morning, but not without a penalty of ten percent grade deduction. He could not make an exception simply because a student had gotten up late; rules were rules and should be strictly observed, he reminded the class. Even so, Karna was still relieved that he had gotten off easy – failing the class was a far more disastrous outcome to both his degree and budget.

“Rough day, huh?” Tamamo commented, looking at her best friend with both sympathy and pity.

Sitting opposite from Karna on a table in the cafeteria, Tamamo was idly slurping a humongous-sized vegan milkshake after having finished her light meal of salads. In contrast to her mostly empty tray, Karna’s had reached its capacity. To compensate for his sorely missed breakfast, he had grabbed two hamburgers, mashed potatoes and a portion of fries that had Tamamo cringe when she saw it. Unlike her who was always on a diet, Karna needed the extra energy for his two-to-six shift at a café slash tea shop near the campus. Tamamo had always envied his metabolism for burning all the calories he digested, leaving him almost no more fat than necessary to survive.

Karna nodded between his bites. He had about an hour and a half to have lunch before going to his part-time job. It was hard work but it paid better than any jobs he had worked so far. As an added bonus, it was near the campus so traveling cost saved.

Tamamo stirred the straw in her Styrofoam cup and cast her big, long-lashed eyes down. “You know, hearing that you’ve been having such an awful day makes me feel real terrible to ask you a favor,” she said, voice small and embarrassed.

Karna inwardly sighed; he knew that she was going to ask him something before she even opened her mouth from her telltale gestures. Tamamo was pretty predictable that way and having been friends with her since junior high school, he was able to read all her signs like he did his palm.

“What is it?”

“Eh?” Tamamo sounded surprised, the ribbons on the top of her head somehow perking up like a pair of fox ears; for them, she had gained the nickname “Foxy” during her high school years. “You sure it’s not too much for you, Karna? I mean, you have a bad day and once your shift’s over, you probably want to take a hot shower and curl up in your bed, watching the new episode of The Originals, don’t you?”

That was exactly Karna’s plan for tonight; Tamamo indeed knew him as well as he did her. And she could already guess that he wouldn’t refuse if his best friend asked him a favor. Yes, Karna was also predictable that way.

“I haven’t said yes. Still, as long as it doesn’t involved climbing to the top of the City Tower at midnight to watch a meteor shower than I may consider it.”

There was that one time when he agreed to climb to the top of the City Tower, carrying a heavy telescope on his back, because Tamamo had wanted to make a wish as “the stars fell down” (her words). Had the wish ever come true? That remained a mystery.

“It doesn’t,” Tamamo assured him with a beam and began rummaging the content of her satchel, on which a ton of colorful keychains hanged. Must be really heavy, Karna mused, every time. Once she pulled out some sort of ticket, she exclaimed gleefully, “There it is.”

“What? A ticket to a concert?” Karna asked, eyes wide as he examined the ticket Tamamo had just smoothed out and handed him. “SKDuo? What a funny name for a band. Sounds like a costly cosmetic brand.”

Karna had seen that brand on his mother’s vanity. Everything she used was expensive, that was a fact.

“You’ve never heard about them?” Tamamo exclaimed, shocked. “They were originally two amateur singers who performed and uploaded their videos on Utube. Made quite a splash and they got lots of followers, so a company recruited them. This is their debut concert and it’s gonna be HUGE. SK is the initials of their names. They have incredible voice, music-writing talent – they write all their songs – and most importantly, they’re super hot. You don’t know how many girls are ~crazy~ about them!”

“I get it, I get it, you’re one of those girls, alright? Does that have anything to do with you handing me the ticket? You want me to go with you to their concert?”

“The truth is,” Tamamo sighed, twiddling her manicured fingers, “I’d kill to go to their concert, I mean it. See, I’ve booked a ticket two months prior. Getting a ticket wasn’t easy at all, especially one that offers such a marvelous spot as this. I’ve fought tooth and nail for it, even having to pull a few strings here and there.”

Karna waited patiently for her to get to the point.

“But my project is due tomorrow and tonight I’m gonna have to stay late at the campus to finish it with my team. I wish I could just scribble something on the paper and be done with it like many times before but it’s a group project and it consists of thirty percent of my grade for this subject. Moreover, it affects the whole team and they’d seriously kill me and dump my body into a cement block if I blew it.”

“Meaning you can’t go to the concert tonight no matter how you want to? In that case, shouldn’t you sell it or give it to a fellow fan?”

Tamamo’s eyes glowed with menacing light as she spoke, “No way I’d give something I fought to get to someone else, not when it offers a backstage tour and a chance to speak with the boys since it’s a VIP ticket, not to mention a handful of super exclusive items.”

Karna started to get a hang of what his friend wanted to ask him.

“So, what I’m asking you is getting those items for me. That’s the least I can get to compensate for my money.”

“They sing pop music, right?”

“Yeah. That’s why they have many young fans.”

“You do remember pop is my least favorite type, don’t you?”

“I know, I know. ‘Cuz I’m asking you a big favor, I’ll buy you lunch for a month.”

“I’ll consider it.”

“Please, please, please.”

Tamamo was clutching his hands and was on the verge of climbing onto the table to squeeze his frame if he refused her, which he wouldn’t do because Tamamo was his weakness; Karna hadn’t been able to turn down his best friend’s request since the first time they spoke, when she defended him against a bully. “Alright, I’ll go after my shift is over. That’s not too late, isn’t it?”

“Not at all, you’re an angel,” Tamamo squeed in high-pitched tone. “You can catch the number nine bus and be at the stadium in no time.”

“OK.”

“I love you, Karna. You’re the best.”

Despite the many eyes around them, Tamamo pecked a loud kiss on his cheek, leaving a smudge of cherry lip gloss on his pale skin, which he scrubbed off with a piece of tissue and a resigned smile.

If this SKDuo band turned out to be as good as Tamamo said, perhaps he could bear through the evening, no problem.

Karna had no time to worry about the concert being a total bore and a waste of his time; in fact, once his shift started, he didn’t have a spare second to think about anything else other than the customers’ orders, coming in wave after wave.

His atrocious luck carried on to the afternoon, manifesting in the catastrophic news that his coworker had caught the flu and was now taking a day off, leaving him all by himself to fend off the horde of unreasonably demanding teenagers. Diarmuid, his coworker, was an extremely pleasant guy to work with: he was hardworking, helpful, friendly and would never mind covering Karna’s shift for him if he had to study for a crucial exam. He was everything Karna could ever hope for in someone who would work with him for a long time, except one small flaw: girls seemed to swoon over him – granted, he was good-looking enough to make straight men gay – and often flocked to the shop just to see him or have a chat with him, and more girls meant more customers and a lot more hectic work. But Diarmuid was an efficient guy, who was able to entertain the customers (albeit reluctantly, Karna soon realized) with small talk and finish their orders at the same time, mistake-free. Without him, Karna would have a helluva lot of work to do.

By the time the grandfather clock in the corner struck three, Karna had already been bone-tired and was very eager to flatten himself on the counter like a pathetic stale naan bread. As a small silver lining in his dark day, the rush hour had passed and the shop was restored to its serene state, no bickering couples or noise-making adolescents. The tables were mostly empty saved a few sporadic intellectual patrons who possessed a mature sense to appreciate the quietness. The warm sunlight filtering through the blinds were lulling Karna’s worm-out mind into a tempting nap as he sat on the high chair behind the counter, with one hand supporting his chin and his eyelids heavy like stone. Perhaps he would have dropped off right there but for the bells on the door chiming, signaling an entrance of a customer. Karna hurriedly rubbed his eyes, tired and red-rimmed, and slid down from the chair; the last thing he wanted was to be caught dozing off at work and having a scold and a minus in his pay.

“Welcome…” Karna said, his gaze landing on the customer’s face. Recognition settled in and the muscles on his face relaxed to form a soft smile. “It’s you.”

“Hello,” the customer greeted with a small gesture of his hand. He was a man in late twenty with long unkempt platinum hair tied in a casual pony tail reaching past his shoulder blades. Traces of moisture on his chest and the gleam in his aquamarine eyes spelt a good work out.

A couple weeks ago, this guy had walked into the shop around this time, dressed in the same black tracksuit, with the same duffle bag slung over his shoulder, and struck a conversation with Karna. From then on he had become a regular patron whose tidbits of his life and personality Karna had picked up from their brief chats, like he was a dog person, he liked motorbikes, he preferred beer to spirits, he worked out at the gym around the corner, and so on. Conversing with customers was more Diarmuid’s specialty while Karna tended to shrink away from small talks; still, something in this guy’s demeanor made it pretty easy for someone with poor communication skills (self-proclaimed) like Karna to talk to him.

“Quite a tough day, huh?”

Karna signed. “Is that showing on my face?”

The guy smiled and sat down on one of the tall chairs at the counter, opposite from Karna. “A little. But it’s mostly deduced from Diarmuid’s absence and the near-full tip jar.”

Ah, the tip jar. Another silver lining to brighten up his day.

“He’s caught the flu and is hospitalized today.”

“That bad?”

“He said it wasn’t that bad but his roommate insisted that he come to the hospital. He was kept in just for careful measure; there’s an outbreak out there.”

“Be careful not to catch it, okay, since you have to come into contact with many people.”

The genuine concern in his tone sent a warm tickle to Karna’s inside. Did he mention that the guy had a very pleasant cadence?

“I will, thanks,” Karna replied with the first happy smile in the day. “Now, what can I get you? The usual?”

“I’m in the mood to try something new. If you were me, what’d you think you should have?”

A strangely phrased question but Karna wasn’t too surprised. His command of English was perfect, yet sometimes his culture and mother tongue subconsciously got into his speech and the result was this.

“If I were you, I’d give the new coffee a try.”

“Oh? Something new? What is it?”

“It’s a blend of macchiato and matcha, with a dollop of cooled whip cream on top.”

“Now that’s an unusual combination. What goes with it?”

“Matcha lava cake is a match made in heaven.”

It was. Karna had been asked by the manager to try it once. He had thought that he’d recommend it to any customers.

“OK,” the man said, tapping his fingers lightly on the counter to a rhythm only he knew. “I think I’ll give this set a try.”

“Alright, one matcha macchiato and one matcha lava cake. Anything else you would like?”

“Make that two.”

“Sorry?”

“Two coffees and two cakes,” he replied, a hint of mischief in his eyes that Karna doubted he’d imagined it. “You don’t mind if I buy you a coffee, right?”

There was a small flutter in Karna’s chest like a baby butterfly’s wings. He willed himself not to color but knew that his cheeks had already tinged with the faintest pink. And there was that tickle in his stomach which seemed to get a little stronger.

“No, not really,” Karna said, trying not to stutter (this he could manage). “It’s just I’m not very used to a customer buying me coffee. No one has ever done it.”

The man smiled. “I’m glad to be the first. Besides, you look like you could use some coffee and a sweet treat.”

“Let me buy you coffee next time, deal?”

“Oh? You’ve planned a ‘next time’ already? Alright, it’s a deal.”

This time, Karna had no doubt the mischief in the man’s eyes – had become an unmistakable gleam – was very real as he held out his right hand for Karna to shake.

Karna left the shop precisely at six, thankfully without any last-minute order. The man had left around four, leaving a compliment for the coffee and the cake. After that, Karna had served some small groups until his shifted ended. Dressed in his casual attire consisted of a T-shirt and ripped skinny jeans plus a pair of sneakers, he headed to the bus stop.

To be fair, the concert wasn’t too bad. Despite the endless throng of excited teenagers – a healthy turnover – clad in all sorts of funny attire at the entrance and their occasional ecstatic screams whenever the duo on the stage pulled a stunt, it was surprisingly a decent concert. The music was pretty good too, different from what Karna usually imagined of a pop concert and frankly, much better; instead of cheesy love songs, they delivered messages of bravery, courage, friendship and the struggle to discover one’s value under the various metaphors of heroes embarking on journeys to conquer dragons and other mystical beasts (Karna had been listening), which was an odd but refreshing choice. He guessed that was what set them aside from other bands and granted them an edge in this merciless competition. Just for once, he had no ground to tease Tamamo’s taste in music and beauty standard – the two singers were actually quite pleasant to the eyes even when both were sporting unusually long hairstyles.

All these combined, Karna should be enjoying the concert; after all, he hadn’t the chance to let his hair down for some time – work was hectic and the study insane. He wasn’t though; as a matter of fact he had been pretty wound up since the moment he got off the bus and saw the giant poster of the concert. What was on the poster? The two stars of this night, of course. One of them had long, silky-looking hair tied up in a ponytail that was a reminiscence of the samurais’ in those period dramas Karna sometimes caught during late hours. That should look ridiculously outdated on someone else but not him; on him it was perfect, so much so that he’d look odd sporting a modern short haircut. The color scheme of his costume brought out his eyes and gave him an air of mystique to captivate the hearts of those who looked into his well-proportioned face a bit too long. Kudos to the Photoshop guys on their marvelous job.

The other guy exuded an entirely different air, even contrasting. His platinum hair was let loose in a wild, unkempt mane that looked like it could use a comb but actually was fine the way it was. Messy in a refining way. His skin sported a healthy tan which well complimented the muscles on his chest and completed the textbook definition of a hunk. Karna knew those muscles well, had stolen a glance at them from time to time while preparing the drink for the customer sitting on the tall chair, dressed in black tracksuit with the same duffel bag slung over his broad his shoulders every time Karna saw him. And that was the reason why Karna had been standing in front of the poster with a stupefied look plastered on his face, the ticket clutched in his hand completely forgotten as well as his purpose. He only snapped out of it by the influx of teenagers waving colorful light sticks and occasionally screaming. Still, the feeling lingered in his mind like the aftertaste of stale jerky on his tongue with no decent drink to wash it off.

It turned out Tamamo hadn’t boasted when she claimed she had spent a fortune for this ticket. That ‘fortune’ had given Karna one of the VIP seats providing a perfect vantage point to the stage. From where he sat, he was able to get a superb view of the singers’ faces and that only further confirmed what he had already learned: one of the singers – Siegfried was his name, Karna believed – was actually the regular patron who frequented his coffee shop and usually ordered hot tea instead of coffee; who loved motorbikes, German beer and big dogs; who had brought him a drink this afternoon with an informal promise of a date and thus brightened up his day; and who recently had been the cause of those naughty little butterflies in Karna’s stomach whenever their eyes met.

Later, if he ever reflected on that concert, he would discover several lapses in his memory, where he hadn’t paid the slightest attention to what was going on the stage, pondering instead what to say to Siegfried the next time he visited the shop for an afternoon tea, or alternatively what caused those butterflies in his stomach. That was why he missed both the grand finale and the reason the girls (and a couple guys) around were going wild with shouts, standing from their seats and waving their light sticks with all the zeal of the victorious liberators waving their banner. Then all of sudden a red jacket, still warm with body heat and exertion and emitting a concentrated scent of masculinity, landed squarely on his laps.

What in the world–

There was an uproar around him as Karna’s mind rapidly processed what just happened. To conclude the night, both singers had taken off their jackets – Siegfried’s red and the other guy’s blue – and thrown them to the audience.

Didn’t that just prove Lady Luck possessed an amusing sense of humor, Karna thought as he went from obscure to the center of attention in mere seconds. Some of the girls (and dudes!) were sending him glares of envy and the others eyed him, or the object in his arms, hungrily. They weren’t going to maul him for a mere article of clothing, weren’t they? Because he was going to save himself the tedious queue at the overcrowded merchandise booth and gave this jacket to Tamamo. Definitely beat the posters and T-shirts and badges and whatnots sold at prices higher than their worth, something this personal. She would be over the moon, no doubt.

Maybe it was just his imagination, but for a second Karna thought his eyes and Siegfried’s had met.

The rest of the night was relatively uneventful, aside from a small trouble finding his way out of the stadium. He had skipped both the backstage tour and the chance to speak to the singers – those were Tamamo’s things, not his. When he got home, back aching, feet sore and kind of peckish, he was thankful that Arjuna had already retired to his room instead of staying in the living room to watch TV. Probably had to pull an all-nighter for tomorrow’s test, or so he’d heard. Anyway, the last thing Karna wanted now was for his half-brother to pick up the morning fight and ruined the remaining hours of this day.

Karna made a sandwich with the leftover bacon and lettuce in the refrigerator and went straight to his room. The warm yellow light greeted him when he flicked the switch. Ah, his tiny, personal world where there was no nonsensical half-brother to quarrel with him. He took a moment to bask in the peaceful tranquility his room offered before going to the bathroom for a hot shower. Gotta wash off the grime and frustration this awful day had given him. After half an hour, Karna emerged from the bathroom only in his black boxers and a towel on his shoulders to absorb the water dripping from his hair. He enjoyed an episode of his favorite vampire show while munching on the sandwich before he decided it was time to bed.

That night, Karna dreamed of the concert. However, instead of two singers, there was only Siegfried, standing tall under the limelight with his hair let loose and his unzipped jacket, showing the refined muscles of his chest. And instead of a sea of screaming teenagers, there was only Karna, sitting in the center seat of the first row with his gaze gluing on Siegfried’s every move. In turn, Siegfried’s eyes never left Karna, burning into his face as he performed song after song, each one more sensual than the last. At the end, instead of throwing his jacket off, he extended his hand and leapt Karna onto the stage as though the younger man weighed nothing. Their bodies pressed close, their faces closer, their lips almost touched… and then the alarm on his phone dragged Karna back to the real world.

The dream stayed with him the whole tomorrow and the next, affecting his moods in a strangest way. He wouldn’t say it was an unpleasant thing, though, just very, very perplexing.

It was a relaxing afternoon where the customers were scarce and thus, they had few tasks to attend to. Diarmuid was cleaning the coffee machine and Karna was drying the glasses when the bells at the entrance happily chimed. He looked up to see a familiar figure, dressed in the black tracksuit with a duffel bag on his shoulder. However, today he was donning a black cap and a pair of sunglasses, which he only took off after spending several moments scanning the shop (Karna guessed, going on his pose), and deciding it was alright because there were only a couple patrons who were too absorbed in their business to care about whoever just entered. Karna couldn’t help a quiet chuckle. Did he honestly believe that such tried-and-not-true measure could enable him to blend in the environment without a throng of fangirls (and fan dudes) ready to decimate any chance of him enjoying a quiet moment at his regular shop? As if his stature and long, silver hair weren’t already a dead give-away to those who knew him – Karna had recognized him at first glance.

Somehow his thought made its way out of his mouth almost instantly. “Your height and hair is a dead give-away, you know.”

His fingers in the middle of turning the pages of the menu, Siegfried looked like he was frozen in his chair for a few seconds, his eyes wide and staring at Karna like a deer caught in headlights. Karna mentally cursed himself for his filter’s malfunction; he was so careful with his words that half the people he met, except Tamamo and Diarmuid, thought him arrogant and distant, and the other half thought he had speech deficiency. He blamed it on his frantic heartbeats and the tightening in his chest once seeing Siegfried. From that concert he had thought it over and over what to say to the older man, and yet out of all the options, there was none meant to make the situation awkward like this.

But what had been said couldn’t be un-said, so he took a breath and sought to start a conversation. “You know how fans are. They eagerly study every detail of their idols like it’s science.”

That was lame, he thought, but still better than the prolonged silence.

“I don’t think I’m that famous,” Siegfried replied with a small smile, finally snapping out of his trance. “I’m wearing the sunglasses because my eyes have been irritating since yesterday and sunlight makes it worse. As for a cap, I just bought it on the way here and thought it looked good.”

The whites of his eyes were indeed pink and the rims were where the color was the darkest, almost blood-red.

Karna wanted to curse himself. Out loud.

“You… knew it all along?” Siegfried hesitated.

“No, not at all,” Karna replied, deciding to go along, “I just learned of it the other night.”

“Ah.”

Siegfried let out a surprised sound. Somehow he sounded… relieved.

“I have a friend who couldn’t come to a concert because she had to finish her project, and so I came in her place to get her the merchandise she wanted.”

“So, you were there after all…” His voice went softer, nearly a mumble. “I thought I was imagining when I spied a familiar face in the crowd.”

So… when their eyes met for a moment, that wasn’t his imagination.

“How did you find the concert? I’m willing to take criticism.”

“It was… okay, I guess, better than a handful of concerts I’ve been to, but you know well pop isn’t my thing so can’t say I’m in the position to give constructive comments.” A beat. “Throwing the jackets to the audience was a bit over the top, though.”

Siegfried laughed, a bit louder than Karna was used to. “It was all the manager’s idea. Kojirou protested against it all day long and still lost at last.”

“Thanks to that I didn’t have to line up to buy the merchandise,” Karna said, trying to keep a straight face. “My friend certainly liked it more than any key chains or posters.”

“I’m glad she did.”

Then the two of them fell into silence, each searching for what topic to continue the conversation.

Thankfully Karna’s quick thinking had found one, a natural one.

“What do you have for today? The usual or something else?”

“Anything special today?”

“We have imported some Earl Grey to go with scones and clotted cream.”

“Right about tea time,” Siegfried commented. “I think I’ll have that. Didn’t know your shop served British tea as well.”

“Our boss has just come back from London and the British charm hasn’t faded on him,” Karna replied, placing the kettle on the cooker. “Expect a couple British treats on our menu for a while.”

“Right. I remember last time he went to India and your shop had chai for almost a month.”

Several moments of comfortable silence passed with only the indistinct chatters in the background while Karna prepared the scones, stealing glances at Siegfried every now and then. The man was typing something on his old Nokia, likely texting. He wasn’t using an iPhone or any other branch of smartphone, a fact that had never surprised Karna until now. Too distracting and time-consuming, he had once explained his choice, and Karna had thought he belonged to a rare subspecies who weren’t very technology-savvy. Looking at him and learning what he really did for a living, Karna found it astounding that this casual, everyday neighborhood guy and the glamorous star burning brightly on the stage were one and the same. Such vivid contrast caused his heart to hammer in his chest. It wasn’t that Siegfried hadn’t interested him before; it was just the desire to get to know him better had been fanned by that dream after the concert and was now a wild flame.

“You said you played in a band,” Karna hesitated, trying not to sound accusing. He placed a steaming cup of Earl Grey on the counter, together with a china plate containing some scones. “I always thought it was an amateur band, not this… big.”

“It was an amateur band,” Siegfried stressed. “Kojirou and I were just fooling around by recording and uploading our videos online. Never thought they would go viral. Then out of sudden, a company came with an offer.”

“I was wondering: is he the K in ‘SKDuo’, since your name starts with an S.”

“Actually SK is also the initials of his full name – Sasaki Kojirou. It was he who took up on the offer and convinced me to do it since I was unsure. Had never thought about making it big, you see. But he won me eventually. By the way, the original name I thought of was D-Busters.”

“And D stands for?”

“Dragon,” Siegfried chuckled. “Dragon Busters. It was promptly squashed by the manager.”

“So… is that the deal with heroes fighting dragons? Not that it’s a terrible idea but isn’t romance pop songs’ main inspiration?”

Karna didn’t expect Siegfried to laugh out loud, causing a few heads to turn and look at him quizzically. Embarrassed, he quickly bowed his head slightly, wearing an apologetic smile.

“You have to promise not to laugh first,” he cleared his throat and said in comically serious tone.

“I won’t.” Karna was intrigued.

Siegfried took a sip of his tea. “When we were kids, we often went to each other’s house to play video games. 90s’ kids’ most favorite pastime. There was this game ‘Dragon Slayers’ that got us both crazy about and well, naturally it became our inspiration.”

“You’re kidding,” Karna suddenly exclaimed.

“Sorry?”

“I was so obsessed with Dragon Slayers I begged my father to buy me Trevor’s costume one Halloween.”

“Now you’re kidding me. Trevor’s my most favorite Slayer too.”

At this point, their conversation veered entirely into the 90s video game dimension, with no sign of returning to the original topic.

Siegfried left the shop around four and a half, when it started to get more customers, promising a busy evening for Karna and Diarmuid.

At the end of their shift, when they were dividing the tips, Diarmuid found something in the tip jar: a bill wrapped around a piece of napkin.

“I believe this is for you,” Diarmuid said, throwing him a knowing wink as he handed it to Karna.

With a dumbfounded look, Karna unwrapped the napkin. On it was crisp masculine handwriting which said:

“I think we still have a promise of a date. This is my number so feel free to call or text me: 012-xxx-yyy.

PS: Actually, just text. Call-shy, sorry.”

Neatly folding the piece of napkin and putting it in his pants pocket, Karna shook his head with a smile playing on his lips.

End

Remember that White Day CE featuring Siegfried and Kojirou as two singers? It is the main inspiration for this AU fic.

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Plus, Junichi Suwabe (Siegfried’s VA) sings really, really well, FYI.

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