Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners
Fandom: Fate/Grand Order
Pairing(s): Siegfried x Karna
Genres: fanfiction, AU, humor
Characters: Karna, Siegfried, Tamamo no Mae, Yan Qing. Other Servants may make an appearance or be mentioned.
Siegfried and Karna went on a date.
Karna walked the aisle the third time in a row, his sneakers making skidding sound with the tiled floor. Then he stopped, also the third time, in front of the pyramid shelves displaying the latest music albums of this month. His fine eyebrows knitted as his winter-blue eyes were glued on a particular CD, the one in the most eye-catching spot on the top shelf with a small label of five yellow stars attached to its neon-reflecting case. He was familiar enough with the entertainment industry to know what those stars represented: this month’s number one hit. Although the type of music wasn’t his cup of tea, he couldn’t help but agree that those stars were much deserved. He knew personally that how much sweat had been spent on composing that album.
Two teenage girls in school uniform walked up to Karna. Standing just a couple feet from him, the girls only glanced at him for a second and then automatically converted him into an inanimate object, their attention focusing instead on the transparent plastic case claiming a respectable space on the top shelf. He heard them squee in delight and then mumble between themselves. Something about the price and how they would have to save more in order to get it on their own shelf. Indeed it was a bit out of a conventional student’s budget, Karna’s not being an exception, since it was a silver limited edition. After a few minutes, he heard them sigh and they left him to inspect another aisle. His hands in his jacket’s pockets, Karna munched on his lips, an unsanitary habit he had developed since childhood that often left his lips chapped and bloodied. As an adult, he had tried to gotten rid of it but sometimes, it unconsciously resurfaced when he was debating with himself over some matter. A sharp sting registered in his mind and the tip of his tongue tasted copper. Mentally signing, he carefully licked the wound, feeling more blood oozing from it. Tamamo had given him her favorite brand of translucent lip balm and urged him to use it, especially when the days were getting colder and his lips were more prone to dryness. Still, he had only ever applied it once, and it had made him hyper-aware that he was using girl’s product, to the point he had waited anxiously for someone to point it out. Up until today, the lip balm had silently remained in his drawer, almost as new as the day it left the store.
The surface felt smooth and cool on his fingertips when he reached for it. The cover caught his eyes so he spent a few seconds to study its details. On the front cover were the two singers of the rising band SK-Duo. The theme appeared to be feudal Japan, and both were appropriately styled as such. Kojirou was originally a Japanese immigrant so the makeup and outfit perfectly matched his original look; he didn’t even have to wear a wig to complete his costume, although Karna thought he wouldn’t look half as good with one. With his hair tied in a high ponytail with a white ribbon, one of his cobalt sleeve slid off his shoulder, showing a fair portion of slender bones and unblemished skin – that explained the girls’ squee, and an overly long katana in his hand, Kojirou looked like he had crossed over from a fantasy feudal Japan game to the real world in order to make fangirls swoon. Kudos to the editing team again, Karna noted. But Kojirou only briefly caught his attention; it was the other man that had him engrossed. In contrast to Kojirou’s neat look, Siegfried was sporting a rugged appearance. His silver mane was untied and his outfit was dirtied and tattered at the hems. He had his chest mostly bare as usual; however, there was an artistically grotesque scar spanning over the sun-kissed skin that reached his cheek. Instead of being grossed out, Karna found himself strangely fascinated by the shape of the massive scar. His finger traced the plastic surface as if caressing the artificially marred skin, which colored his pale cheeks with a bright blush once he realized what he was doing. Consciously he looked around and was mildly relieved he was the only customer in this aisle, but he doubted anyone would care if they saw a young man putting a CD into his shopping basket while blushing like a genuine fangirl.
Karna couldn’t remember since when the sight and thought of Siegfried, his regular-patron-turn-friend, started to heat the skin of his face and speed up his heart rate. It was mortifying. Truly mortifying.
Karna stood in front of the music store’s entrance, allowing the cool autumnal wind to cool his face. In his hand was a plastic bag on which the store’s logo of a smiley face was printed in purple ink. Inside the bag contained his prize of the day: the recently released album of the SK-Duo. He felt kind of bad when he thought how disappointed those girls would be when they returned to purchase it only to find out it had been sold, but well, first come, first served. With this CD, half of his preparation for Tamamo’s birthday gift was done. The other half was what would truly make his gift special and different from one brought at last minute with little heart put into it.
Tamamo’s reaction was the same as his expectation. Once the pastel wrapping paper was peeled off to reveal the cover, she did exactly what very fangirl in her shoe would: letting out a high-pitched squee that turned every head in the cafeteria towards the two of them. Her cheeks rosy, Tamamo sported a rare sheepish look that was entirely unfitting to her bold and vibrant personality as she sank back into her plush seat. But that was before she squeezed Karna’s body in a hug so tight that his bones rattled; despite her slender body, Tamamo actually possessed the strength of five men combined, not to mention the aggressiveness of a mother bear. Not a soul in her judo class doubted it.
“How did you get it?” The first thing Tamamo did after sitting down was firing a question while staring at Karna with the intensity of a detective in the interrogation room. “Attaining their signatures is one thing but to have them handwrite the birthday wishes… Did you know someone in the entertainment industry?”
“Nah, tell me tell me.”
At Tamamo’s round sparkly eyes and pleading tone, Karna recalled the moment he laid the CD, wrapped in its plastic seal, on the counter, in front of Siegfried’s inquiring eyes.
“Huh? Never knew you were a fan?” His tone had an amused note to it.
“Still not, sorry,” Karna replied. “But my best friend is.”
“Oh, the one you gave the jacket to.”
Karna momentarily cringed at the memory.
“Yes. Her birthday is around the corner and I figure she’d be very happy if she got a personally signed album. Is this favor too much to ask?”
“No, not at all. In fact, I can get Kojirou to write a happy birthday note for you friend…”
Karna was surprised. “Eh?” He had anticipated that Siegfried would agree without any problem, given their progressing friendship, but to get the other singer to do the same hadn’t been exactly on his plan. Getting Siegfried’s signature was fuss-free and easy as he frequented the coffee slash tea shop; asking Siegfried to bring it to his friend, get the signature and then bring it back seemed like too much a bother, and one thing Karna hated the most in the world was to bother someone, especially when that someone was a friend.
Siegfried’s lips curled into a smile as he continued his unfinished sentence. “… under one condition.”
Karna didn’t see it coming at all. “What is it?” he asked cautiously.
“Are you free this Friday evening?”
“Yeah, after the shift ends at six, I’m pretty free, but why’re you asking?”
It was Friday night and naturally, it was most students’ unholy night of clubbing and partying. However, ‘most students’ didn’t include Karna, who preferred a quiet, uneventful night in his cozy bed, with the headphones over his ears and his favorite book laid open in front of his eyes. It might sound boring and nerdy to many of his peers but hey, everyone were entitled to their own form of entertainment.
“May I borrow your evening?” Siegfried asked.
“Sorry?” Karna was dumbfounded not by his strangely worded request but rather by its meaning.
Siegfried cleared his throat – he often did that before explaining himself, Karna noticed. “I mean, if you have no plan for Friday evening, can we go somewhere and… you still remember we have a ‘date’, don’t you?”
Oh shoot, Karna mentally cursed. He had entirely forgotten about that unofficial ‘date’ in the flux of assignments, deadlines and exams. Life of a student juggling both his study and his part-time job wasn’t easy, you see.
“You haven’t forgotten about it, have you?” Siegfried’s voice contained a hint of disappointment.
His cheeks felt heated. He needed no mirror to tell he had colored.
“It’s alright,” Siegfried said, breaking the awkward silence. “So, is it a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’?”
“Ah, yes,” Karna blurted without giving it much thinking.
“Great!” A big smile brightened up Siegfried’s handsome face. At the sight of it, Karna’s skipped a beat. “I’ll pick you up at six fifteen, alright?”
“Just tell me the address. I can go there by myself.”
Karna prided himself on being a bus-route connoisseur; he could ride the bus to anywhere in this city.
“Nah, just let me pick you up. I insist,” Siegfried said.
Could Karna say no to such an earnest gleam in those eyes which always conveyed his thoughts better than his speech? The answer was a resounding no.
“If I told you I’d sold myself to get that, would you believe it?” Karna half-joked.
Tamamo’s pretty face visibly paled, her round eyes wide, her mouth agape, and she placed a hand on her breast pocket as if her fragile little heart could break free from her ribcages any moment.
“Just kidding,” Karna laughed, unable to contain himself seeing his best friend’s dramatic reactions. “Sometimes I wonder why you chose to major in East Asia culture instead of acting.”
Tamamo’s face spotted a rare serious look that was comically unbefitting of her cheerful nature. “Don’t scare me like that ever again,” she stressed. “As your childhood slash best friend I have the responsibility to watch out for your chastity.”
Karna winced. “Thanks, but I’ll pass.”
“Anyway, do you have any plan for Friday night?”
At the mention of Friday night, Karna was instantly reminded of his ‘date’ with Siegfried. “Well, I’ve already have an appointment.”
Tamamo pouted, stirring the straw in the iced banana milkshake she hadn’t touched in the last half an hour; today she had decided to try something new on the menu but the new item seemed to have disappointed her tremendously. “I planned to take you out on your birthday but you’re already booked. What a shame. How about we going a day earlier, on Thursday night?”
Realization dawned on Karna’s features, which, of course, didn’t escape Tamamo’s keen observation. “Don’t tell me you forgot your own birthday?” she exclaimed in her signature high-pitched voice, causing a few near heads to turn towards them. Again.
Karna did. Since his father, who had always cherished his only son’s birthday and made it the most special day of the year, passed away, his own birthday no longer held much significance in Karna’s heart. To him, his birthday was just like any other day, where he had to go to school and then to work. If it wasn’t because he had to occasionally fill out some forms, he might have totally forgotten such a day existed.
Tamamo, on the other hand, took it upon herself to remind him of the day he arrived in this world by plucking him out of his mundane daily routine. “I can’t believe someone who remembers every detail in the Mahabharata can forget his birthday. You’re one of a kind, you know that.”
At her accusation, Karna shrugged. “Thursday night it is.”
Tamamo snapped her manicured fingers. “That’s it. We’re going downtown and we’re celebrating. BIG.”
To be continued