Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners
Fandom: Fate/Grand Order
Pairing(s): Siegfried x Karna, (implied) Cú Chulainn x Diarmuid, Vlad III x Nero, Yan Qing x Sasaki Kojirou, Achilles x Atalanta
Genres: fanfiction, fluff, humor
Characters: Siegfried, Karna, Kiyohime, Yan Qing, Sasaki Kojirou, Gilgamesh (kid), original character
Valentine’s Day. Chocolate. Love confessions. Kabedon. And Servants.
Sequel to Sharing Warmth and A Drunken Mishap
“It’s called kabedon, KA-BE-DON.”
“Kabedon?” Siegfried mechanically echoed. The sound felt odd on his tongue even if he tried his best to imitate Kiyohime’s pronunciation. Despite having a couple Japanese friends, Kojirou and Kiyohime being his closest chums, not to mention his Master, he was still unconfident articulating Japanese names or words.
“What is it?”
“It’s super popular in Japanese pop culture, just so you know. When a guy uses that on his intended partner, his love confession will have one hundred percent chance of success. Works like A-rank magecraft.”
“Does it?” Siegfried asked, somewhat incredulously. He might not be an expert in the field of magecraft, but he had never heard about such a powerful… spell, or ritual, or whatever that ‘kabedon’ was – he still hadn’t learned of its form. Was it some Oriental secret?
“You baka dragon,” Kiyohime chided, not unkindly. Siegfried was sure her combination of words would be quite a painful prick in many linguists’ eardrums but he wasn’t going to point it out to her. “You know nothing.” This seemed to be her catchphrase these days – someone had spent most of her free nights binge-watching that fantasy show on TV, her most recent obsession beside their Master.
“That’s alright. Now, remember, no, learn it by heart, the key to kabedon is the force you put into your hands when you have him against the wall, or any flat surface. It shouldn’t be too strong or else he’ll mistakenly think you want to assault him and probably respond in kind, not to mention the risk of punching a hole through the wall, which I seriously doubt our Master’d appreciate. But it shouldn’t be too weak either, or else you’ll end up looking like a wimp. It should be gentle, yet intimidating, to highlight your masculinity…”
“Aren’t he and I both male? Why should I need to emphasize my masculinity?”
Kiyohime sighed deeply – she had a penchant for being dramatic, that dragon girl. “Needn’t I tell you everything? Hah, I’ll be blunt so you can grasp it. Do you want to be seme or not?”
“Uhm… I’m not sure what ‘seme’ means.”
“Geez, it means being on top, and you put your d*** into his b***! For goodness’s sake, do some research!”
Siegfried looked absolutely horrified like a little lamb in front of a furious lion. “Kiyohime, yo-your language!” Siegfried stammered. “That’s not lady-like at all.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve never thought of that before. I won’t buy it.”
Siegfried’s face went from ghastly pale like he’d seen a ghost to red as though a can of tomato sauce had just spilled beneath his skin. He admitted he had fantasized that a couple times, when he was sleepless and buzzing with energy – their young Master had a rather impressive pool of mana for a Magus of his age – and the quiet hours called for some dynamic activities. Nevertheless, he was deeply aware that although they might be sharing a bedroom and some body contact, the road to Siegfried’s daring fantasy to become a reality was still much long.
“I… I still haven’t told him my feelings.”
“Do you think they’re reciprocated?”
“I think so…yes…” Siegfried replied, his voice lower, bearing a hint of doubt. “He certainly doesn’t abhor the room sharing or the body contact. That proves we aren’t just friends, right? Then that one time he kissed me… it was a drunk kiss but once he knew what he had done, he didn’t seem disgusted or anything. And he also defended me against his brother…”
Kiyohime sported a serious look foreign to her countenance. Her eyebrows furrowed, her lips were set in a neat straight line and she stroked her chin. For some reason, looking at her, Siegfried felt a sense of unease. “You want to know what I think?” Kiyohime asked.
“I thought he liked you before, and that’s why I went to talk to you about this whole ‘kabedon’ thing, but I was wrong. He didn’t like you, buddy…”
Siegfried’s heart literally dropped. So… Karna didn’t really like him, and everything up until this moment had been his misinterpretation of Karna’s friendly acts due to their cultural differences. Or worse, his own shameful distortion of their friendship. Gott, from now on he couldn’t bear looking straight at Karna anymore, let alone staying in his room or fighting alongside him…
“Hey, Sumanai-kun, you listening to me?”
Kiyohime asked in a worried tone, waving her hand in front of Siegfried’s red-rimmed eyes before his self-flagellation trainwreck went further south. “I haven’t finished my sentence. I said he didn’t just like you, buddy, he likes you. So rest assured, the feelings are mutual.”
Siegfried had heard about the light at the end of the tunnel. This had to be it.
“Ho-How do you tell?”
“Maybe he’s always close to you so you haven’t realized but Karna is pretty distant to every other Servant and staff here. Polite, well-mannered but distant nonetheless. Even to our Master. I can tell he has a miniscule comfort zone and he doesn’t let anyone in easily. And you, you got right into the heart of it, invited and welcomed by him, no less. That’s saying something.”
Siegfried got elevated into the sky but his pessimism had to pull it down to earth; that way it’d hurt less when his bad luck kicked in. “What is that something?” he murmured.
“That something means he regards you highly, probably higher than he does the rest of us. He cherishes you, Dragon-kun, is that clear enough for you?”
“Is that so?”
“That’s right,” Kiyohime replied, patting his shoulder. “I’d say it’s the most opportune time to confess your feelings – though I suspect he’s already known. What else is Valentine’s Day for?”
So it was that time of the year in Chaldea. Technically Valentine’s Day lasted one day but in here, people kind of stretched it to a whole week. Although missions were still carried out – because the world was helpless in saving itself, there was no overnight ones as the evenings were saved for partying, boozing, playing games and, ahem, some adult activities of course; they were mostly grown-ups here save a few kid Servants. Since this was his first year in Chaldea, Siegfried was somewhat surprised by how lively this place became at this time. Then his surprise quickly turned into bafflement when he witnessed Cú Chulainn pulled a flustered Diarmuid into a shady corner and…
Well, he averted his eyes and went the other way, afraid that his presence was interfering with their intimate moment. That the two of them were courting each other, or to use the modern vernacular – hooking up, was no secret in Chaldea, and everyone here was perfectly cool with it. It was just they were usually a little less open with their affection.
By the time he witnessed Achilles offering a brightly decorated box of chocolate to Atalanta, who turned him down for like the twentieth time, Siegfried had gotten used to it. It was certainly fun to see the Servants engage in human activities, and it reminded him that before they were Servants, summoned here by the earnest wish to protect this world, they were human beings with emotions.
“So,” Siegfried turned back to the subject, “once I have him against the wall with that kabedon thing, what should I do next? Just say how I feel?”
“Of course that’s what you’ll do, but before that, you’ll look into his eyes and make sure your gaze is filled to the brim with your passion, as if he were the only person in the whole world you have your eyes for, the center of your universe.”
“That sounds… abstract and I doubt that I can pull that off.”
“You can, trust me. I’ve seen you gazing at him several times,” Kiyohime said with a wide, confident beam which made Siegfried redden. “That will have him speechless and his heart go fonder. As you entrance him with you fiery stare, you bring your face closer and closer to his, until they are only inches apart and you can feel each other’s breath. And then, in your sultry voice, you tell the three magic words.”
“I’m not sure that I have a sultry voice,” Siegfried meekly confessed. He was quite convinced that his voice was rather bland.
“Don’t worry. Just use that voice you used when you and Sasaki-kun performed that duet on Master’s birthday. Honestly I was surprised by how sexy your voice could be.”
The tips of Siegfried’s ears peeking out from his silver mane turned bright red.
“What if he rejected? I mean, it could be too sudden and—”
“Oh boy, you’ve gotta believe in the magic of kabedon. If a man did it to me, I’d surely melt in his arms and be his faithful wife for ever and ever.”
Only if you didn’t bake him first, Siegfried mused but kept his lips tight because Kiyohime was hugging herself with that absolute look of euphoria on her face, and everyone in Chaldea knew better than to intervene with her fantasies lest them got flambéed by her Berserker temper.
Siegfried waited for Kiyohime to come down to earth again with patience. She did, after a while, and clapped his biceps with a grin on her face. “Go for it, Dragon-kun. We shall wait for your good news.”
“We?” Siegfried echoed incredulously.
“Oops,” Kiyohime mumbled, covering her mouth using the sleeve of her black kimono. “Well, that you’re into Karna is no breaking news to us lot. You’re quite transparent when it comes to feelings, you know.”
“Right,” Siegfried heaved a sign, having already heard from Kojirou about the long list of Servants who had seen through his discreet growing affection for the Lancer. It still felt a little embarrassed, though.
“By the way, Emiya sent me a message to tell you to drop by the kitchen to get some chocolate. Before you ask what it’s for, it’s for you to give Karna and it’s complimentary, so don’t worry about paying him back later. And be hurry before Altria hogs them all. Emiya always has a soft spot for her never-ending appetite.”
Probably as adept in dessert-making as in weapon-tracing, Emiya had sort of opened a small startup of handing out chocolate on demand. That meant any Servants and even Masters who wanted to follow Valentine tradition or just simply yearned for some sweet delicacy could ask him in exchange for a little IOU at a later time – mostly just getting him some exotic cooking ingredients on their missions. All the heart-shaped chocolate candies Achilles had been using in hope of winning Atalanta’s heart had come from Emiya. For those who were a bit closer to him, mostly sharing the team with him, the red Archer, however, would offer them his culinary artworks without charge.
“I will, thank you,” Siegfried replied.
He just hoped Karna did have a sweet tooth for Western confectionary.
Siegfried was strolling along the corridor, an oval red box secured in his palm. This was what he had gotten from Emiya, and although it was rather small as compared to the Archer’s usual boxes, he had assured Siegfried that the quality was on par, if not a tad superior. This was his experimental récipe and so far he had only received positive feedback – had pleased even royal tastebuds like Nero’s or Vlad’s. How did he know? Well, after both of them had come to him separately to give compliment on the other’s chocolate. Anyway, since he and Siegfried was on friendly terms – those with shit luck tended to band together, to quote Cú Chulainn, the red Archer had thought Siegfried should try it.
The next step in executing his plan (despite its absurdity but that was what he got asking love advice from a Berserker) would be to find Karna and a suitable place, or alternatively, to find Karna at a suitable place. It was a bit difficult to meet the Lancer outside their shared room recently because one, he and Siegfried had been assigned to different tasks related to their class and as such, they hadn’t had a chance to fight alongside each other for a couple days; and two, when both of them actually had some spare time fighting-free, Karna was swept away by the newly arrived Arjuna, who had insisted on challenging his older brother to a duel whenever he could, or felt like to, which not only occupied all Karna’s time but also left him all wound up and frustrated when he retired to the bedroom. And that was really something because Karna rarely displayed his emotions. The brotherly feud was even worse than Siegfried had read about them, and as far as he was concerned, Arjuna’s obsession with Karna seemed to be treading on the thin line between natural – as they had been arch enemies in life – and unhealthy. In Kiyohime’s eyes, however, all of that was meant to minimize the time Siegfried could spend with the Lancer as a certain someone was red-flagging ‘brother complex’ everywhere and it had her feeling somewhat uncomfortable. Although Siegfried had no idea what a ‘brother complex’ was, if it was something that could cause even Kiyohime to be uncomfortable then he was sure he did not want to know.
Siegfried stopped short when he reached a turn and gazed at a spot on the wall with nostalgic expression. Right here, just a few months ago, that incident had happened. Embarrassing and crazy as it had been, it was also a fond memorial trinket. Despite the sore fact that it had been purely alcohol-induced, it was their first-ever lip-to-lip encounter and it never failed to heat up the tips of his ears every time the memory surfaced. Come to think of it, Karna could have drunk-kissed just about any of the Greek heroes at that table, even Hektor or Achilles, who was on good terms with him; nonetheless, somehow he had managed to perfectly time the exact moment of Siegfried’s approaching him. Coincidental or not, it proved that finally Lady Luck had graced him with her smile; perhaps, for once, he could allow himself some hope that Kiyohime was right about his feelings being reciprocated.
So engrossed in his thought that Siegfried didn’t sense the presence – or rather presences – coming towards him. Everyone in Chaldea exuded unique presence, although the nuance could be not easy to point out. Servants, however, could effortlessly distinguish between a staff member, their own Master, or a Servant. Still, that was only plausible when they weren’t spacing out like Siegfried was at the moment.
On hindsight, Siegfried couldn’t have detected the presences coming towards him given the nature of the Servants. That didn’t not make the experience any less mortifying on his side.
All of Siegfried’s scales on his tail stood on their ends when a hand tapped him on the shoulder, startling his nostalgia into shattering. He was one step from materializing Balmung when he heard a voice.
“Oi, Brother Dragon, why are you staring at the empty wall?”
The voice registered in Siegfried’s mind as overly familiar so he turned around and was faced with Yan Qing and Kojirou. Yan Qing had one arm casually slung on Kojirou’s shoulder, and Kojirou didn’t seem to mind the gesture. These two were getting rather close these days, Siegfried noted, and it made sense as they had a lot in common culture-wise. He had also heard that Yan Qing was Kojirou’s brand-new roommate.
“I was spacing out, honestly,” admitted Siegfried.
“Is that a chocolate box from Emiya?” Kojirou pointed.
Only now did Siegfried remember he was having something in his hand. Well, there was no use hiding something once it was spied, so he nodded, abashed.
Kojirou and Yan Qing exchanged a mirroring smirk.
“We just saw Karna talking to our Master,” Yan Qing, jerking his thumb towards the direction they had come from. “They’re likely still there.”
“And that troublesome brother of his has been accompanying his Master on a mission and probably won’t return until the evening,” Kojirou helpfully added.
Siegfried couldn’t contain an internal defeated sigh, fully aware that his affection for Karna was now officially the most badly hidden secret in all Chaldea.
“Well, best of luck, Brother Dragon,” Yan Qing said, “and if you want to surprise Karna, trying hiding that box somewhere other than your hands.”
And off he went on with Kojirou to do whatever Assassins liked to do in their free time.
It was either his luck had been upgraded overnight or his Master, like many Servants in Chaldea, could clearly read his motif, because by the time Siegfried approached the pair, their Master and Karna’s discussion had just finished. Leaving the Servants to themselves, their Master bid them goodbye to leave for the Master Hall, but not before he (un)intentionally winked at Siegfried.
The corridor suddenly became so engulfing with only the two of them.
The course of actions for his plan were spinning in Siegfried’s head like a roulette. Pin him against the wall, gaze into his eyes, confess your feelings, finish with a breath-taking kiss, his mental voice was undoubted Kiyohime’s. It sounded simple enough, the plan, and it was indeed simple, which required no-brainer, yet Siegfried found it to be the most energy-draining, nerve-wrecking thing he’d ever done in his entire existence. His heart was certainly not helping at all, banging its fleshy self against the rib cages with an iron will to be liberated.
But to chicken out at this crucial moment was not what Siegfried – not as a dragon-slaying hero but as a man – would ever do, so he balled his fists and made up his mind. “Karna…” he took one step up, swallowing the molasses in his throat and getting himself prepared for battle, urgh, for action; there wasn’t that much difference after all. But alas, fate was not so kind-hearted as to allow him this chance because Karna suddenly raised his voice, effectively halting Siegfried. “I have something to tell you,” he said in his ever-cool tone, not indicating any hint as to what he was about to speak.
Not expecting this turn of event, Siegfried postponed his intended words and looked into Karna’s pale face, which turned out to be a fatal mistake as he was instantly captivated by the Lancer’s intense gaze. He always thought Karna’s eyes, a clear, icy blue like a frozen lake during winter, to possess a mystic spell to pin someone’s down and demand their undiluted intention so that they couldn’t not focus on anything else but him. Sabers were known for their high magic resistance and still, more than once Siegfried had found himself at the mercy of that enchanted gaze. Or perhaps it was something other than magic, something more complex that subtly penetrated his consciousness to beckon his suppressed desires. Whatever it was, it was sure to get him every time. He wondered if Karna was aware of his effect on Siegfried as he slowly but steadily advanced, causing the Dragon Slayer’s feet to take unconscious steps backward.
By Karna’s commanding gaze, Siegfried was soon backed against the wall. His eyes not straying from the Saber’s face for even a split second, not even to blink, he raised his hands as if about to deal a blow. Siegfried knew he wouldn’t, though; it was completely uncharacteristic of him to attack a stranger out of the blue, least of all his ally and friend. Unlike his hot-tempered, irrational brother.
With a soft – but still edible – sound to let Siegfried be aware that he’d used a modicum of his god-blessed strength, Karna planted his palms against the walls, caging the Saber, and brought his face close enough to Siegfried’s that they could feel each other’s breath. His sharp, feline eyes were scrutinizing the Saber’s expressions. Despite his shorter stature and much leaner frame, Karna looked intimidating, predatory even, with Siegfried regrettably being his chosen prey. Worse, the prey had already given in the moment he got mesmerized by those frosty blue eyes, pitifully without resistance.
“Uhm… you have something to tell me?” Siegfried opened his mouth, struggling to find his voice, which came out a little hoarse. He needed to somewhat dispel the intensity in the charging atmosphere and his own anxiety of waiting for Karna’s response.
Being almost chest-to-chest, Siegfried could inspect the crimson jewel embedded on Karna’s flesh. It was a secret of Karna’s, which he’d discovered after spending months in close proximity with the Lancer, that his jewel seemed to convey his feelings far better than his impassive expressions. The stronger his emotions got, be that joy, grief, excitement or anger, the clearer and shinier the gem became. Siegfried was startled to see its gleam, which, coupled with his rising body heat, denounced that the Saber wasn’t the only one affected by their situation. Siegfried hoped against hope that nobody would pass by this corridor and ruined this moment for them.
“From the day we first accompanied our Master into battles,” Karna began rather solemnly, after a moderate pause, his eyes boring into Siegfried’s, “I’ve always considered you a reliable comrade, to whom I could trust to cover my back, an opponent worthy of my spear, and a friend whom I can talk and laugh with. But that isn’t all…”
The heat radiating from him was getting stronger, to the point that Siegfried thought it might sear his skin. Alright, technically it couldn’t, but he wouldn’t mind if it did.
“As a matter of fact, I really like you,” Karna hesitated, “and it’s much different from comradeship or friendship. It’s similar to the special bond shared between Diarmuid and Cú Chulainn, or Emiya and Altria, or Nero and Vlad…”
Siegfried just stared at Karna, his need to blink forgotten as he was stunned by the raw honesty in his voice and the earnest fire burning in his eyes. Even in his wildest dreams had he never dared to imagine Karna confessing his feelings to him, and in such straightforward manners. Sure he had heeded Kiyohime’s advice and gathered up his courage to tell Karna the exact same words, yet always a part of him, a not-so-tiny part, was prepared to take rejection, and possibly awkwardness following afterward. If Karna wasn’t having him against the wall, he might want to do the silly thing of giving himself a good punch just so he knew he wasn’t in a twisted dream.
Wait a minute! The caging, the intense gaze, the confession… all of these struck him as familiar.
“So, what do you say?” asked Karna.
“The three magic words!” yelled the chibified Kiyohime dressed in pink kimono with a pair of fluffy wings behind her back. Siegfried mentally winced at her shrill voice inside his head.
“Is this… kabedon?”
So much for the three magic words. The chibi angel Kiyohime banged her head on his shoulder pad.
In a rare astounded expression which Siegfried had thought as nonexistent in his repertoire, Karna widened his eyes. His jaws were slightly slack but no words came out. After a few good seconds, it was a curt admittance: “Yes.”
“Did you, by any chance, get it from Foxy Lady?”
Foxy was Tamamo no Mae’s nickname in Chaldea because her full name was a bit cumbersome. Technically she wasn’t a fox spirit but as she had once said, she didn’t mind being referred as one, having been mistaken by thousands before. That foxes were extremely adorable was an added bonus. Besides, what irked her much more than being mistaken for another species was being addressed by a generic name, which, once called, would turn at least a dozen heads around.
To put it short, the relationship between Karna and Tamamo no Mae was similar to that between Siegfried and Kiyohime: odd, yes, but genuine in spite of their vast cultural differences, beliefs and moral codes.
Another “Yes” came from Karna. Was Siegfried imagining or his pitch just got a bit higher?
No wonder, Siegfried thought. Those two Servants were very close friends and essentially partners-in-crime. He wouldn’t be too shocked if they had had this all set up.
“Funny enough,” Siegfried said, “Kiyohime gave me the same advice and I was going to tell you the same thing.”
“So…… that was why you came looking for me?”
An awkward silence stretched between the two grownup Heroic Spirits, who were staring at each other – no intensity this time – like two clueless adolescents who’d just learned that their feelings were mutual but had no idea what the next step should be because, well, they were utterly clueless. It appeared although both of them had carefully thought it through and carried it out, neither was prepared for the possibility that it might actually succeed.
Siegfried did know what to do. Back in his era and country, when a man proposed he’d just get on one knee, offer his intended partner a flower, preferably a red rose, and promise to fight and triumph all her other suitors… or try to win her family’s favor so that he could ask for her hand. However, that was only applicable when his intended partner’s gender wasn’t the same as his and he wouldn’t risk looking like a crazy fool or worse, provoking Karna to anger. Karna had never shown his temper but who knew how calamitous it could be. Best not to try it.
“So…” both said in unison and fell into silence again.
The faintest shade of cherry dusted Karna’s white cheeks, and the ice in his eyes had thawed enough to put a glaze over his irises. Looking at him, Siegfried was reminded of that New Year’s Eve, and of the drunken but turned out to be the most marvelous kiss he’d had in centuries. It ignited in him so fervent a desire to relive that scene right here, right now, that all the confusion and hesitation were swept clean. This time, their minds would be the clearest state and there was no one around to spoil this intimate moment.
So he stopped thinking and just sprang into action. His hand went to touch the side of Karna’s neck, feeling the cool warmth of the earring dangling near his shoulder, and as the Lancer’s eyes enlarged, Siegfried bent his head and gently capture his parted lips.
It felt natural when Karna, after a moment of stillness due to being taken off guard, responded with the same gentleness the Saber offered. His mouth closed, and his lips glided leisurely against Siegfried’s. It felt natural when Karna’s arms rested limply on Siegfried’s shoulders, caging him in a loose embrace. It felt natural when Siegfried pressed his body against Karna’s, immersing himself in the precious, one-of-a-kind warmth that emitted from the son of the sun god, and his hands palmed the sides of Karna’s slender hips. It felt also natural when Karna tried to press harder into Siegfried’s form even though it was impossible, and his fingers threaded into Siegfried’s silver mane, drawing idle circles at the sensitive skin on the back of his neck, sending shiver down his spine.
Everything in this moment felt just natural while nothing of it should, and truth was, both of them paid it no mind, focusing instead on the sweetly unique flavor that spelt of the other. Out of a taciturn agreement, they kept the kiss chaste as to commemorate the cement of their relationship, knowing this was their first true kiss, and with a swelling confidence, not their last.
A sheen of moisture coated Karna’s lips once they parted and he unconsciously licked them. Siegfried’s Adam’s apple bobbed.
“I, uhm, got this from the red Archer,” Karna said, rummaging through his fiery cloak for a while and pulled out a red square-shaped box. Siegfried was baffled to see that it had such use. Wasn’t it weaved of fire? Shouldn’t it burn? But the box wasn’t, though. Maybe Karna put a spell or a charm on it or it was just how the cloak’s magic worked – burnt not what its owner wished no harm.
The box looked perfect and Siegfried didn’t need to see the inside to know its content. Hadn’t him gotten a similar one from Emiya?
“Tamamo said it was a modern tradition to share this treat with your loved one…”
As he spoke, his fingers carefully unwrapped the ribbons and opened it to reveal… shapeless brown goo that might appear disgusting if not for its strong, pleasant aroma. Karna immediately paled.
Siegfried tried so hard not to laugh that it actually hurt. “I guess that’s why Emiya traced that gargantuan fridge first thing when he entered the kitchen. These chocolates can’t stand the heat, not even room temperature,” said Siegfried, clearing his throat. Being that close to Karna’s body, it was sure to catch some of his body temperature, which was tad higher than a normal person’s.
“Point taken,” Karna deeply sighed.
“I got some from him too,” Siegfried said, taking out the chocolate box he had hidden in his cloak of invisibility, hoping that his chocolate would fare better. His tone dropped once he saw the box in his hand. Inside, the once-beautiful oval box of chocolate, though not melted, had been misshapen and became the very symbol of a trampled heart. Must have been the result of his being backed against the wall.
“Yours is melted and mine is crushed,” Siegfried sighed, “we’ll make quite a pair.”
They both burst into hearty laughter.
This might be the first time he’d heard Karna laugh, loud and true, and the sound was music to his ears; he would much love to hear it every day from now on.
“But we can still have what they call,” Siegfried said, dipping a piece of his chocolate into Karna’s melted chocolate, “a mockery of chocolate fondue.” As he finished, he brought the piece to Karna’s lips, which the Lancer took into his mouth. His gorgeous eyes shone as he exclaimed, “It’s so delicious!”
“It is,” Siegfried agreed, licking his fingers. He bent down and claimed the second kiss only minutes after the first. Sure the chocolate was sweet, but the lingering aftertaste on Karna’s tongue was sweeter than all the Valentine’s chocolate combined.
I immediately noticed something weird as soon as I entered the main cafeteria looking for dinner after relaxing in a long, hot bath. I had taken my time in the bath, partly to soak my fatigue off and partly to avoid the rush hour at the cafeteria, when Masters and Servants came back from their missions, all clamoring for steaming-hot food and beverages. After that, they spread out to enjoy their leisure time, and the cafeteria would be mostly vacant save a few staff members.
But today was different. Rush hour had been over for at least half an hour, and still there was hardly an empty table in the space. On closer inspection, the cafeteria was occupied mostly by Servants, not Masters, and the majority of them being Heroic Spirits of the bow. Why they gathered here was a bafflement to me because the cafeteria wasn’t the Archers’ favorite hangout; they much preferred the training ground, where they could compete with one another to see who was the best marksman or markswoman.
I quickly grabbed my portion of foods – mashed potatoes, salads and honeyed chicken, and an extra-large cup of goat milk yoghurt – and strode to a table at a corner, who had been claimed by a Servant. A small one in both size and age, who was in contract with me, he had his eyes glued on the iPad screen, watching some sort of anime, and a spoon was dangling from his mouth while a half-full bowl of fruit salads topped with whipped cream sat on the table. Were he a normal kid, I would like to remind him it wasn’t a good habit to watch TV while eating, but to do that with the ancient king of Uruk, I’d risk exposing myself to a month of pranks. The king, no matter a child or an adult, never fancied being told what to do.
“Oh hi, Master,” Gilgamesh put out the spoon and greeted, peering at me through his golden lashes.
“This place is so packed today,” I commented. “Any idea why the Archers are gathering here like it’s an Archer convention?”
“Well, a certain Archer is taking the whole training ground as his personal punching bag and no one wants to get accidentally skewed by his divine arrows, so, here we all are.”
“And by ‘a certain Archer’ you mean…”
“Look around Master and see if you can spy the one who isn’t present.”
“Is that a challenge for me?” I asked, winking.
Gilgamesh winked back but gave no answer.
I did a quick scan of the cafeteria and quickly gave up. “Beats me. I don’t have hawk eyes like you Archers.”
“Lazy as ever, Master,” Gilgamesh giggled. “It’s Arjuna. He seemed to be in particularly foul mood when he entered the training ground, and before the Servants there knew what or who had pissed His Highness off, he was ready to shoot anything and anyone.”
“Any idea who or what?” My gossipy bone was tickled just by hearing this.
“I can’t be sure, Master, but I have a good guess.”
“And what may that be?”
“To your far left, Master.”
I did as I was told and found a table where Emiya, David and Robin were bickering about something. Again.
“Not sure how they are related to Arjuna.”
A puzzled look crossed Gilgamesh’s face. He stood up from his seat for the added height and said, “Not them, Master, behind them.”
I craned my neck to see what Gilgamesh was trying to show me. Once I see who were sitting there, a sense of understanding swept over me.
It was Siegfried and Karna at that table, sitting side by side. In front of them was a chocolate fondue, and they were taking turn dipping pieces of diced fruits or biscuits in the chocolate while having shining eyes and a wide smile on their faces as they did. It seemed they were tightly wrapped in their own pink bubble that neither was able to sense my stare. My Servants looked happy though, happier than I’d ever seen them, in each other’s company. My best shot was that one of them, or both, had finally worked up the nerves and worked out the tension between them.
Turning to the petite king, I nodded and said, “I think I have to agree with you.”
“Too bad Arjuna probably doesn’t,” replied the king in a childish voice and adult wisdom.
Much later, when all the suppressed feelings had been told and the chocolate converted to a minuscule amount of mana, as they were about to go to sleep, wrapped in each other’s warmth as they usually did, a question struck Siegfried.
“I was wondering about something,” Siegfried said.
“When Foxy Lady told you about this kabedon thing, did she mention anything about ‘seme’?”
“‘Seme’? What does it mean?”
Unbeknownst to Karna, Siegfried breathed a sigh of relief. “Never mind that, probably just some Japanese slangs she and Kiyohime picked up surfing the net.”
Compared to heavy warriors like Siegfried and Karna, Kiyohime and Tamamo no Mae were summoned to battles less often because their Master had a problem with the former’s mana consumption and the latter’s skills were better suited to specific missions.
Karna didn’t ask anything else, seemingly brushing the matter off as Siegfried had told him. But the Dragon Knight knew tomorrow he’d likely consult with his close Japanese friend. That was alright though. Better he hear from Tamamo no Mae than Siegfried himself.