Loop 36

Day 4

Streets・Day 4 Big pursuit! Two teachers, an elf, and an apprentice

“Here, I bought the one asked for. Um, "cookie crumble blueberry rare cheesecake," was it?”

“Good work. Here, the money.”

Caster took the triangular crepe box without looking back, casually handing me a 500 yen coin.

“Um... that's not quite enough. It was 80 yen more than that.”



No good. She's not listening.

It can't be helped, I'll just eat my own portion.

Mine is the clerk's recommendation: Banana with fresh chocolate caramel cream.

―――Delicious. This is really tasty.

Even considering how hungry I was, it's superb.

The name's way too long though. I guess it has to do with the crepe's luxurious taste.

I only thought about it after leaving, but the food cart seems to have a good reputation. I think Sakura might have mentioned it before.

However, even though it seems abnormally high in calories, it's easy on the stomach. Sakura had better avoid it.

“―――Now then.”

Caster on the other hand, as if the taste was unimportant, stuffed her mouth greedily, crushed the wrapper into a ball and threw it behind her.


I let out a sigh while catching her garbage,

and lovingly sent it into the waste bin with an overhead shot.

Glued to a van parked along the street, she's secretly spying on two people walking together a little further away.

The first: Caster's silent husband, Kuzuki Souichirou.

The other: My unfaithful older sister and a teacher, Fujimura Taiga.

For the time being, they're behaving like work associates... yeah, that makes sense. Good.

Come to think of it, while on the way to meet Issei at the temple, I'd been caught by this witch, forced to stand-up my appointment, and had been marching around the city like this for about an hour and a half.

Right about now, Issei's probably furious.

Before I realized it, somehow we had left Miyama city and were in the middle of Shinto.

We made our way across the big bridge, moving from pillar to pillar on the roadway to hide ourselves, all while being continually peppered with blaring car and truck horns.

If those two haven't noticed us already, I can't help but think there is some sort of magic at work.

The saying, "a young maiden is blinded by love" seems to hold true.


What's with this sudden sense of unease?

Maybe I should just tell this "maiden" in love to reluctantly give up.

Along with the target, we continue to move forward.

I poke Caster's shoulder as she's standing in the shadow of a bus-schedule sign.

“Hey, Caster?

Personally, I think we should just give up following them any further...”


No response.

“...Hey, Caster.”


Again, no response.

“Hey, Casty, come on already.”


Your heel...! Your heel is...! Is breaking...! My...!

“...gasp... M-Ma'am?*(high pitched voice)

Innocent-bolero-jacket-wearing young wife?”

“Oh, what is this? Can I help you?”

“That is, it's just... though I've already asked before, could you possibly share with me one more time why I've been roped into something like this stalking play?”

“Something like this?”*

She grabs me by my neck and pulls me in front of her, underneath the shadow of the plaza's objet d'art. A blue flame can be seen burning in her eyes.

“You don't have very good memory do you? It's obvious isn't it?

I'm keeping an eye on that wicked woman. I must guard Souichirou-sama from any unhappiness and prevent him from doing anything he may regret!”

As I said, that's the most incomprehensible thing.

“Yeah, but, you know... that's Fujimura Taiga over there, right?”


That's why, being your guardian, shouldn't she be taking care of you right now?”

Rather than my guardian or caretaker, is Fuji-Nee some kind of heinous criminal?

Well, I'm not going to disagree that she looks after me.

The problem lies somewhere else―――

“Next to her, that's Kuzuki-sensei, right?”

“Indeed, it's Souichirou-sama.”

“...Uh, you mentioned something about "unhappiness befalling him," meaning?”

“How foolish. Naturally, when a man and a woman are alone together, an extreme situation is very possible to occur.

Maybe it's too early for a boy like you to understand?”

“So you're saying that―――”

“Ah! Souichirou's heading inside the building! Let's go, walk!”

“Ow ow ooow!”

From hiding place to hiding place, I'm led by the neck at a bent posture while stealthily following them.

On the other side of the street, a kid with his family points and laughs at us.

“What do you think you are looking at, kid!? I'll turn you into a pig!”


Stop saying those things with such a serious face!!!

“Wait, calm down Caster.

Listen. As far as I know, within Fuyuki city, no, all of western Japan, the last person you'd need a "marital investigation," "household search," or whatever for, is the person who doesn't care about marriage or the other sex: none other than Miss Fujimura Taiga.”

“―――Achoo! Umu~”

“Compared to Fuji-Nee, my work place's boss would be more realistic.”

“―――Nyachoo! Oah~”

“What's this, Neko-kun? Caught a cold? It's a good idea to drink at times like these.”

“Huh...? That's strange, which one's which?

No, whatever the case is, it's just too unrealistic!”

―――But, facing her with such fervor, Caster's eyes don't show even a trace of understanding.

“You're trying to insist that this female tiger is harmless!?

However! In reality, those two setting such an obvious tryst on display makes you not convincing in the slightest!”

“As I said, that's―――”

...Wait a minute, what's Fuji-Nee doing?

Early this morning, she left for no specific reason I thought.

“Well, I thought it had to do with work. Preliminary inspections or something.”

“Today's supposed to be a day off for Homurabara. If he's doing extra work or overtime, Souichirou-sama tells me without fail!”

“Oooh. That's a newlywed for you, how considerate.”

“Yes, that's right~

"I'll be late. Eat without me please." he would say.”

“Oh. Speaking of overtime, in Fuji-Nee's case, "Shirou! Pork cutlet lunchbox, with cabbage, extra-large portion, need it now!"”

“How I envy you...

I too wish I could gaze upon Souichirou-sama as he works.”

“During class, does Souichirou-sama speak?”

“Well, if you don't talk then it's not a lecture.”

“Sounds nice...”

“Eh, what does?”

“Listening to him in class.”

“Certainly it would be a sweet and pleasant way to pass the time.”

“......It's not like that.

Besides, it's an ethics class.”

As expected, Kuzuki-sensei doesn't seem to talk much at home.

Caster doesn't seem unsatisfied, but deep down she probably wants to hear his voice more often if possible.

“All right. Then, treat this like a rehearsal.

Just like we would heading to the staff room, let's give them a small greeting.”

Then, no sooner than I started walking, my arm is pulled back.

Turning around, I see Caster shaking her head vehemently from left to right.

“*N-*No, absolutely not!”

“Why not?”

“I-Ignorant child!

While awaiting the return of their husband, a wife should―――”

The moment Caster raised her voice, Kuzuki-sensei abruptly turned around.

“Ah, Sensei, hay fever?

Lately it seems even autumn is difficult right? I don't have any problems, though.”

“No. Just for a moment, I thought I heard a familiar voice.”

“The more you gossip, the worse the pollen gets they say.”

“......Is that... a new urban legend?”

“Hah... hah... too close...”

“As I thought, Kuzuki-sensei is suspicious.”


Hiding behind a shop's clothing display, Caster scowls.

“Who dares to say such a thing!?”

“So, "if it's about the husband in question, I don't want to hear it," it's like that, huh?”

“......I wonder what you're talking about. I think you were a little cuter when you were being obedient.”

“Are you saying I'm gullible?”

That's kind of upsetting.

However, they say you should take a fresh look at a man you haven't seen for even three days.

“Even I have changed.

Getting caught up in a household that has become absolute pandemonium, whether I like it or not...”

“Really, what could those two be doing?

Ah, they're moving again.”


...isn't listening.

She just goes wherever she wants...


“...Seriously though, I'm getting hungry. I think it's about time I go home.”

Caster turned around in a flash, sinking her nails into my shoulders.

“Just hold on one moment!

Saber is the only one here that can be cute when she's hungry! For a man, it's just unsightly!”

“Well then, good luck on the rest.”


W-Wait, wait, waiiiit―――!!”

Holding onto my leg, Caster gets pulled along, sliding across the smooth floor like a snow sled.

I disregard her and walk briskly.

“It's not like I don't understand your worries, Caster.

However, it isn't a good hobby; following people around like this.”



Shocked at seeing Caster sitting formally on her knees and in tears, I finally stop moving.

“B-But for me to keep following them alone is―――

I would be some strange person, no, more like someone's wife following her husband's illicit love affairs!”

“That's exactly what you're trying to do though.

...But okay, I don't mind. The only risk is a bit of police questioning. Don't be embarrassed, you're probably better off coming right out and saying it.”


“"I'm Kuzuki Medea. The one and only genuine wife of that man!"―――Just like that.”


Caster had been in the midst of staggering, when suddenly her expression rouses.

“......R-Repeat once more(Said in English).”

“Eh... What?”


“Uuum, Kuzuki Medea?”


“...Kuzu...ki... Medea......”

“It... It's... so nice.

Perfect. that's it. Kuzuki Medea!”

“I have to have Assassin carve that into the nameplate when I get back!”

“No, you're still a freeloader, you know.”

Caster is twirling about, with both arms wide open like a spinning top.

“Everyooone! I aaaam!

Kuzuki Medeeeeea!


“Hahaha, you're shining, Caster.”

Though, you've also become a suspicious person for real now.

...Or perhaps I should say, my situation has become dangerous. Isn't this like dealing with hazardous materials that will explode with no more than a pinprick?

“Huh? Where'd Fuji-Nee and company go?”

“Kuh, that damn tiger woman. She gave us the slip!”

“Ah, they're coming back.”

“Get down!”

I've already become accustomed to hiding myself by now, how pitiful.

Both of them are retracing their steps, returning from the shopping mall's restaurant area.

“Sorry for making you walk. Are you bothered by this?”

“Walking doesn't bother me at all.”

“That's a relief. Whew.

This time we'll do it, for sure.”

In the end, the two of them leave the shopping mall and head off in search of their next destination.

Looking over my shoulder, the shops were completely crowded during the holiday lunch hour.

However, it's not so crowded that they couldn't sit two more people.

“They've been following this pattern for a while it seems.

Just before they get into a store, they turn and leave. Are they not looking for any particular shop...?”


“Boy, is that―――”

“I'd like to graduate from "boy" any time now.”

“In that case, junior.”

“"Junior," huh...?”

The exit of an Italian chain restaurant.

Inbetween us and where Caster is pointing are the figures of three girls wearing school uniforms.

“It's Saegusa and the others.

Seems like they're on the way to or from club activities.”

Caster's expression becomes grim.

“...As I thought, it's better to stay out of sight after all.

Ah, boy? Junior? Why are you hiding all of a sudden?

Finally decided to flee?”

I'm being given cold looks as I cling to the back of the escalator.

“N-No, as much as I'd like to go, I have my own circumstances. If those guys get a shot of us, explaining things could get complicated.”


Caster bites her lip.

“You men... are such...!”

T-This is bad!

The way we are right now, no way we don't look suspicious.

D-Damn it. Whose fault does she think this is?

“Let's hurry.

They can't have gone far.”

“Let's wait just a bit until after―――Uwawa!”

Again, I was briskly pulled by the scruff of my neck.

I was exposed, "naked," to the public view.

Behind me I felt like I could hear Makidera's, “Ohoo! Tomorrow the morning newspaper's front page is mine!” and Saegusa's, “Eh? What is it Maki-chan?” and Himuro's, “Hmm.” but now was not the time to worry about that...



Now that we've run as far as halfway around the mall, the parking lot security guard has started yelling at us.

I already don't care how this looks anymore.

“Isn't that them?”

The two of them right then, climbing up the log staircase of what looked like a cottage style store, disappear inside the door.

“...A coffee shop... it seems?”

“Appears so. Aah, what a relief.

It's not a love hotel.”

“Now, let's go.”

“Yeah, of course.”

My bangs are important,

but as it turns out, my life is even more important.

That mysterious sword, it cuts better than expected.

With precise timing, we slip in through the shop's open door right as another customer is leaving.

“Welcome!” The waitress attempts to greet us, but becomes completely rigid after the first word.

Almost as if being stared down by Rider.

From the back, I put my index finger to my mouth, appealing to her with desperate eyes. I'm afraid she may mistake us for a duo of robbers and report us to the authorities.

―――Fortunately, that didn't happen.

《In any case, we're customers.》

《We have no intention to cause any trouble.》

《Could you please show us to the most inconspicuous seating arrangement?》

《Please don't worry too much about this woman.》

And so on, trying my best to explain with gestures.

The result, was that my sincerity and enthusiasm seemed to reach the waitress, and she led us to a table situated as far from other customers as possible.

...Thanks to that, she didn't hang around to take our orders.

Looking around the tidy interior of the shop, Fuji-Nee and Kuzuki-sensei were situated diagonally across the saloon from us, next to a window.

Thanks to a thick pillar standing in the middle of the room, they haven't noticed us. I hope.

The ambiance is that of a true coffee shop, calm and relaxing.

We might be able to overhear their conversation somehow if we listen carefully. Nice positioning.

“Your order?”

Some time after the two of us sit down, a waiter finally decided to show up at our table.

I scan through the menu in a hurry.


Restlessly eavesdropping on the conversation of the targets she's tailing, Caster rudely gives her selection with her back still turned.

“Is that going to be ginger ale?”

“Absolutely nothing with "ginger" in it. In that case, wine...”

“I'm very sorry, ma'am. If you want to order any alcoholic beverages you will have to wait until after 5pm.”

“This shop has nothing then? Fine, water will do.”

“This store is known for its black tea, so...”

...The waiter's also trying hard it seems.

As for me, I'd like out of doing battle with this menu that's devoid of explanation as soon as possible.

Assam? Kirman? I don't get it.

Something like Nuwara Eliya or Rabusa Souchon, what the heck are they? Local greetings? Newcomer Servants?

As someone interested in cooking, my curiosity is piqued.

“If I may, we have an Irish style blend which was made especially for today and―――”

“Black tea is just colored water. Doesn't matter how you spin it.

That's enough, can you be quiet for a minute? If you want your order, that boy over there will have 2 or 3 cups of something.”

Uugh, how cruel. That's too much.

She is misguided on tea. I'll have to fix that when her mood improves.

“A word if I may, ma'am.

Did you know, in Ireland they say that tea is thicker than blood?

Hey, oi!”

That's right, you tell her.

That's the first time I've heard that saying... wait, "Hey, oi"!?

I look up from my menu in a panic and―――

“Even though you're not ordering anything, you're ordering me around like you're a real customer? Was it this ear ignoring me? Huh?”



The one holding Caster up by her ear is unmistakably Lancer!

“Yo. You guys like remote places, huh?

This your idea of a secret meetup with a companion, missy?”

“No, that's not it.”

“What thoughtless words. I-I can't believe you!”

“...Lancer. Changed jobs again?”

As I remember, even though my recollection is extremely vague on this matter, Lancer was working somewhere else wasn't he?

“The last store managers begged me in tears.

Pleading me to take somethin' like flowers or the stuffed toys strewn about instead of the usual severance pay.”

“I see.”

Aren't they just making him clean up?

“Whatever, just get your dirty fingers off me.”

“Whoops, my bad.

I wanted to try feeling those ears. Just once.”

“I know what you mean, Lancer.”


Involuntarily, just as he was letting go, Caster's ears twitch.

““They moved!””

“How rude. Souichirou-sama is the only one who can touch my ears!”

“Hooh? He's touched them has he?”

“Shut your mouth, you stray mutt! Mongrel! Cur!

Dogs that can't be tamed should be chopped up and used as shark bait!”

“The equivalent nowadays would be a gas chamber.”

“That's fine as well.”

“Hahaha. That's the spirit, Miss Witch! Now aren't ya acting more like yourself?

―――So. You're not actually gonna tell me you came here to order water right?”

Taken aback, Caster makes eye contact with me.

Bringing up a menu as a shield, we quickly hide our faces behind it.

“Hmm? Looks like there's some noisy customers today.

Even after going through all the trouble of trying to find a place that looked quiet.”


“By the way, how is it, Sensei? That Noodleberry's flavor?”

“It's "Nilgiri."”

“We weren't found out... I think?”


Caster's face comes very close to mine and I can see her break into a cold sweat.

Though she had been crying and fuming for the last while, now that I look closely at her, she really is an unbelievable beauty. Who would leave a wife like this alone to go fooling around with another woman...?

“What're you two doing?

Hm? Don't want another customer to spot you?”

Lancer smirks as he watches us.

“Actually, the truth is...”

“...tch... Don't say anything unnecessary.”

“Okay, boy. Order anything you like. We'll look suspicious otherwise.”

“This is your treat right?”

“We'll take separate bills, obviously.

I didn't come here for a date with you, boy.”

Then, why we came here,

was to commit a crime?

“How about this?

The Kenya and Rwanda blends. I tried them, and they're surprisingly splendid.”

“Fine, we'll go with that. Two of them.”

Caster tries to shoo Lancer away.

What staggering rudeness.

“Understood. Just one moment please.”

Lancer steps back in a very well mannered fashion.

He's acting like a genuine waiter. He's so courteous, it makes me wonder if he isn't more suited toward the service industry rather than fighting.

Then, after getting distracted by thoughts of the Servant next to me, reality comes crashing down as I study the menu carefully.

One, seven, circle, circle.

Eh? What? 1,700 yen?

There are beverages that are expensive enough to have commas in their prices?

Possibly, they provide a whole pot. However, one cup still shouldn't cost more than 500 yen.

Not to mention, the bottom of the menu is filled with prices over 2,000 yen.

Do they even drink several servings of this a day?

Ireland, what an amazing country!

That explains how cheap junk food like Fish and Chips became a staple in their diet.

Now then, I concentrate on listening in on the conversation at the table of the two in question.

As usual, Kuzuki-sensei isn't saying anything while Fuji-Nee is talking up a storm.

Still, something seems completely out of place with her tone.

There's tension mixed in with her voice. Like she doesn't know how to bring up what she really wants to talk about.

Caster throws them a glance while stooping downward.

“For a while now, it seems like they've been avoiding places where there are students or others who may know them, don't you agree?”

“...If you think so, probably.

Though with the mistakes Fuji-Nee tends to make, she could just as easily head to a restaurant and end up at a laundromat.”

“Is that even possible?”

“More likely, she was just lured in here by the "Grand Opening Sale" sign.”

“For such a reason...”

“That's even if there was a deeper meaning to her actions. Personally, I think the "human" known as Fuji-Nee has always been beyond comprehension.”

“...Then, even when she came out of that model shop shouting, it was probably because the epoxy was sold out―――”

“Huh? They stopped by such a place?”

“That's right.”


“Why is Souichirou-sama, with such a woman...?”

Caster bites her nails.

“No, like I said, don't look too deep into it.”

“Just because they were out of stock...”


Even though this is such a high-class shop, I've never been so uncomfortable.

Fuji-Nee, this is all because you didn't take action early on to clear up this misunderstanding.

Quickly, even one of your typical teaching stories would ease the tension.

I'm depending on you. Do it!

...Then, at the side of my elbow resting on the table as I prayed, a face appears.

“It'll get cold.”


“When did... I didn't even notice you...”

Steam rises from the cups as Lancer sets up tea for two without so much as making a sound.

“Who do you think I am?

The Son of the Light of Ulster. The Waiter of the King's Spear!

Drink up before it gets bitter.”

“Did you brew this?”

“As I just said, I'm the waiter.

The brewing was done by that demon of an old man hidin' back in the kitchen.”

Squatting near the table without drawing attention, Lancer's eyes narrow.

“Your targets are those customers?

That's Kuzuki, ain't it?”


The atmosphere changes.

While not looking away from the teacups, the spear user's overpowering presence comes flowing to us.

“Oi, oi. Stop it.”

While acting innocent, Lancer freely pours from the pot of tea.

“I'd be ruined if I turned my lance against a customer.

I'd get canned again, which I'd rather avoid if possible.”

“Be serious.”

“Got it! I am a diligent soldier.”

“Only those with no merit have to wag their tail to an employer.”

“Yeah yeah. Ah, it's best if you don't mix anything in.”

Keeping her stiff expression, Caster brings the cup to her lips.

Then, her expression softens with a surprised look. Her ears twitch again.

“...It's good!”

“It's true. This is... I see, something this pricey should be.”

“Right? What'd I tell ya?”

He says with a self-satisfied smile.

The tea swirling inside the cup has a very dark copper-like color, yet is also completely transparent. There is barely even a hint of bitterness in the flavor as well.

There's even a slight sweetness. With this, it's actually better without milk. This flavor brings out the very essence of tea.

The malicious aura surrounding Caster dissipates as she lets out a sigh, the tension in her shoulders is slipping away.

The background sounds return.

“By the way...

It's the first time meeting your Master, but I recognize the lady he's sitting with.”


“She's my fishing pal after all.

That girl, the only thing she's concerned with is food.”

Aah, so that's why... Embarrassed, I bury my face in my hands.

“Sounds just like her, that thieving tiger.”

Sorry. I'm an accomplice.

“Hey, lad. It's about time you fill me in.

All this. What's going on?”

I give a brief recount of running into Caster and the circumstances leading to us tailing Fuji-Nee.

“I see now. Caster's anxiety is only natural then.”

“Your understanding is appreciated. However, you say that with an unpleasant persuasive power.”

“Alright. Then, I guess I'm off to do a bit of snooping.”

“Wai... Lancer...!”

“Whaat? The investigation service is on the house.”

He's playing detective.

“How about another serving of tea?”

“Gimme anoth... I mean, please. It was really delicious.

But, are refills included?”

“On this day of the week at this time, we offer refills to customers wearing stripes.”

“Eh, striped service?”


“That's too bad. Next time you wear stripes too, Sensei!”


“Souichirou-sama, your underwear is striped!”

“Listen, I shouldn't even have to tell you what's wrong with that.”

“Excuse me, the young wife here, have we met before?”

“Eh? W-W-Wiiife!?”

“Th, T-That's not~ ...uhaah, oh my.”

“Oh? Did I jump to the wrong conclusion?

Just like your tea set, you match each other well. Perfectly.”

“B-But, you know~. What to do~”



“She stabbed the table, she stabbed through it!

Put it away! Put away that strange blade!”

It's a state of emergencyRun For Your Life Fuji-Nee!

Requesting heavy support, ASAP!

The table won't hold her much longer!

“What's this, could you possibly be, Mr. Aloha Shirt?”

“Ah, it seems you finally noticed.”

“Wah, You're completely different! I could barely recognize you.”

“An acquaintance of yours?”

“Yes. I'll introduce you.”

“We often meet at the wharf, and he shares the fish that he catches with me.

He's an amazing fishing expert, Mr. Aloha!”


“Hahahaha, you speak too highly of me.”

“It seems like you don't have any fish today. Ah, where's your shirt?”

“That's because I'm in the middle of my shift. By the way, the shirt has nothing to do with fishing itself.”

Like that, Lancer and Fuji-Nee start talking about the different kinds of black porgy caught at the harbor, enthusiastically discussing different methods to gut and drain the blood. In an instant, the complexions of nearby customers turn pale.

Eventually, the young waitress we met earlier poked Lancer in the back, and lead him back to the restaurant's interior.

And so, I wait a few minutes.

Smiling brightly, Lancer made his way back to our table.

“Alright, I think I've got the gist of things now.”


“You probably saw me get in a bit of trouble back there as well.”

“Just a little.”

“Well, now it's like this...”

Bending over again, he brings his face close to Caster's.

“If you be quiet and watch carefully, you'll figure it out.”

“Only that much is not acceptable.”

She hits the tip of Lancer's nose with the menu.

“Heh, you saw through me, huh?”

“Indeed. I know your type especially well.”

“Ooh? Actually, I have a good nose for sniffing out the intentions of others.”

“But to be honest, I have no flippin' clue what that strange lady is thinking!”

He forcefully asserts this.

“However, Kuzuki's another matter, and I think I get the gist of it.”

“You didn't get a single word out of him though?”

“Even so.”

“...Tell me what you found out.”

“Hm. Let's see...

Weeell, he's the type who's happy being used by women.”

“He's acting too helpful; listening to selfish requests and opening his wallet too easily.

Unhappiness feels good, like he's some kind of masochist.”


“After all, before being a man and woman, there's the relationship between Master and Servant. You shouldn't just do things on a whim. Right?”

“So, you've been watching me?”


Caster bites her lips and turns away.

“Selfishly saying whatever you want...”

“Oh? Mad?”

“I am simply ashamed of myself, for listening to your thoughtless words seriously.”


Have you caught wind of the rumor then, that the married couple at Ryuudou Temple are just playing pretend?


For a moment, she was about to lash out in anger.

However, she faltered, turning her face away again.

Probably “It's not pretending!”, was what she wanted to say.

However, she was not able to.

Seeing this, Lancer kept going.

“Give it up.

No matter how much you say it, people are going to get suspicious after a while. It's best to do it properly.”


“Lancer, are you trying to throw the Kuzuki household into disorder?”

“Ah? Oi oi. Don't you make that face too, lad.”

Lancer scratches his head, disheveling his hair.

“My bad. I didn't mean to play dirty.

In short, my point is to take it easy. When you're married you don't need to be so stiff. You'll just be tired all the time.”

“It's finally time to relax and have fun.

If you make the same mistakes again, are you going to be able to keep standing back up?”


“Well, listen. Even I've been a married man. The father of one child.

People will have many different ways of thinking. If you find yourself at a loss, it's not like you can't keep learning.”

“Just for example. Let's say he's having an affair.

After all, anyone would see that as a mistake. Would you break down, dispelling your anger in a fit of rage?”

“If you did that now―――it would certainly be unforgivable.

If that happens, you probably won't know what to do.

However, with only one mistake, is it really alright to let go of everything? That's one fragile relationship.”

“...A strong couple then, is one who can compromise on anything?”

“Exactly. The Japanese Rowan branches are very flexible, which makes them strong. Neither storms nor snow can break them.

Let's say you have a lake and build a little dam. If you only let a little water through, the lake below will dry up and the pressure will soon burst the dam no matter what you do.”

It seems Lancer is encouraging her in his own way.

That said, a drawback of having three people talking while ducking low and clinging to a table is that it's impossible to create a serious atmosphere.

“The other partner should also have a safety valve. So, even if I were to have an affair, it shouldn't matter―――That seems to be the conclusion in your evasive words.”

“However, even for you, there's a sacred oath, right? By no means can you yield. Though I think that might only exist in the world of men.”

“A sacred oath, eh...? There was something like that, the unbreakable kind and all. What was it called again? It's definitely not something to think too hard about.

That kinda thing should simply be kept. You should look back on the right or wrong only on your deathbed.”


The binding of oneself is not something that can be handed over to another.

Lancer's saying it's not something to be analyzed when received, but something to be protected in silence.

...This is where the greatest difference lies between the user of the spear and the user of the bow.

Though both are obliging people, this person here will follow that advice at every error, attempting to continually adapt himself.

This person will tolerate even the errors, and in turn do his best to help, following in silence.

“......Hmph. For how many human lifetimes do you think I've been alone?

One who lives like a vagabond without an established Master like you has probably never felt truly alive, right?”

“Well, maybe. Life is a cycle after all.

That aside―――Those two over there seem ready to start the main event.”

Certainly, taking a look I can see Fuji-Nee's clumsy elbow position and fingers locked together.

As one would expect from a sentry and scout prodigy. No matter what the situation his eyes are always alert.

“By the way, um, about today.

Everything went pretty well today, didn't it?

There's actually, something I want discuss with you, Kuzuki-sensei.”


“Um, me being a single woman... what do you think about that?”


Fuu, Fuji-Neeeee――――――EEE!


With a dull sound, Caster grips Lancer's ear fiercely.

“―――! ―――!!”*

Lancer looks like he's screaming, but no sound is coming out. His piercing is going to be ripped out. It's a relief I'm not sitting beside her.

“Chahaah, I said it.

M-My apologies.

There must've been a better way for me to say it, but you know me.”


“Truly, I'm sorry.

It was a bit sudden, I know. But, I think it's best to put your honest feelings out there.”

“...My feelings, right?”

“Yeah, it's no good if it's not from you.”

“―――――! ――! ――!”*

《I-I-Give! I said I give!

Hey, Caster!》

Uwaaah, it's being torn right off.

Caster's eyes are wide open, but somehow my worried face and Lancer's image contorted in agony aren't in her field of vision at all.

He's trembling and flailing his arms all over.


I'm not seeing the full story. Could you please walk me through from the beginning?”

“Ah, aah, that's true. I'll tell you.

Geez, I keep doing that...”

Fuji-Nee slapped her cheeks and downed her tea in one gulp.

That's right. I'm begging you Fuji-Nee, calm down.

The existence of Lancer's ear is in a precarious state.

“The truth is, the other day, I had a consultation with a student.

It was a girl. Love troubles, you could say.”

“I've had these kind of discussions in the past before.

It's definitely not the first time. Though it doesn't happen regularly either.

Well definitely, they relied on me because of my position as a teacher I think.

Giving it my best in my own way, I listen patiently and then offer to think things through with them together.”

From what we could hear, considering the worst that could have happened, I was a little bit relieved from what I was hearing.

In response, Lancer's ear was also released and he was soon squatting on the floor and holding the side of his head.

The spearman suffered an atrocity. It's a relief that it was only an ear, he savors this happiness.

“But, y'know...

the other times they were really thankful, so I guess I kinda got ahead of myself?”

“Meaning you weren't successful.”


“It's not as though they went so far as to hate me, but even when we talk now, they no longer confide in me like before.

Like they had lost faith in me.”

“I won't say a word of this to anyone.”

“Thank you.”

Fuji-Nee is starting to tear up a little.

...Something like that happened? I never knew.

“And ever since then, I've been wondering about what she told me. I thought this time, I'd be the one to ask someone else for help―――

Well, it's pretty shameful of me though.”

“What were you told?”

“Well, that child said to me,

"You don't have a boyfriend, and you're not divorced. Everything you say is meaningless."”

“...Meaning, you can't give good advice with poor life experience.”


“Hmmm, hmm.

So then, like an adult playing with fire, she especially singled out Kuzuki.

She seems to be enjoying her steamy immoral adult life to the fullest. Way to go, Nee-chan.”

The blade of a knife is suddenly held just under the nose on Lancer's self-satisfied face.

“How'd you like these two nostrils to become one?”

“Hee~ heheheeiheaa~”

“I agree that I'm really inexperienced, but...

Even so, she also said something else that hit home...”

“"Since Sensei likes and is liked by everyone, you wouldn't understand," "No one's ever told you 'I don't think anything about you,' right? You can't even imagine people avoiding you, right?"...”

“I know what it's like to like somebody, whether it's about a boy or a girl. But what she wanted to say wasn't that, but―――”

“If not like, then hate, or nothing at all.

Looking for a clear decision, without any middle ground.”

“Well, if you want to be blunt about it, that's right. Ahaha.

I've never heard such a story in the world around me.

Here in Fuyuki city, no, maybe even in all of Western Japan, I might be the most unlikely person to get married.”

N-No, something... like that... is...

“That doesn't mean I'll be helpful.”

“That's it.

There are plenty of other teachers with experience dealing with romance, but for them it's, forgive me, something in the past. For me to ask them for help when it's like that makes me a bit... you know, uneasy.”

I must have wanted to think this was a worry that would have solved itself in time.

That Fuji-Nee is holding the same feelings as the students who asked her.

Even though I think it's good to have more self-confidence...

“Kuzuki-sensei has just been married.

In other words, I should mean pretty much nothing to you.”

Caster agrees strongly.

Even Lancer is nodding together with her.

Thankfully, he still has two nostrils.

“So that's why, today―――

Not as a teacher, but as a woman, I want to hear you say you have no interest in me.”


“No, I'm already aware that this is a completely unreasonable request.

But, Kuzuki-sensei was the only one that would seriously think about this.

You know, even if you "think nothing" about someone, you'd normally think something about them right?”

“Like "she's rude," or "she has no fashion sense," or "she eats too much," or "she eats and then just falls asleep," or "she's a tiger."”

“So, haah, sorry.

I'm just rambling endlessly on my own, geez. Let's drink some tea?”


That's just Kuzuki-sensei being his quiet self―――but more importantly...

This... is going to be difficult.

Fuji-Nee called over a waitress and ordered another one of the strange teas.

When I turned my line of sight back in front of me, Caster, now free from her suspicions, wore an expression as clear as the Autumn weather.

Lancer, on the other hand, continued to look intently at Fuji-Nee, as though trying to work through a difficult problem.

“Aaah, Souichirou-sama.

You could have just said you were going to assist a colleague with her troubles, I can keep a secret. Still, that's so kind, to be looking out for a coworker.”

“Hmm, I wonder if that's really the case.”


We have no need for a laundry pole salesman.”

“Bamboo~ Bamboo~♪

As if! My lance is not something you dry your underwear on!”

“But we can't be sure it's just about hearing her troubles.”

“You mean, there's something else?”

“Dunno. Really not a clue.

I'll be blunt. How could things go wrong...?”


You just like riling people up, don't you? Didn't you want to say you figured out something in hindsight?”

“Hahahaa. Fufufuu.”



There's no man who could answer Fuji-Nee's question easily.

For starters, even if there's nothing behind it, you'd at least hold back a bit.

To begin with, why can't a simple neighbor turn into a romantic interest?―――That's just not how people usually think.

To begin with, people aren't conscious about it.

Fuji-Nee is asking the impossible out of whoever she asks. Seriously.

So, assuming that you can answer―――

if you are ready to experience life in its own way,

if you have the peace to look back at your past,

if you have the sincerity, or perhaps the cruelty to point out the other's flaws... would that be the right person?

For all I know, the man in question...


Absolutely not.

I wonder if... that's Kuzuki-sensei after all.

Well, but,

what they're talking about now, like "they might hate me" or "it's troubling for them" are normal anxieties for people.

As long as they're not extremely self-centered―――or extremely naive like a certain somebody.

Maybe it would end up as shock therapy for that certain someone?

Taking a sip of his fresh tea, Kuzuki-sensei sternly spoke up.

“Whether or not I am capable of solving your problem I do not know, but I believe I am capable of answering enough to respond to your request.”


“As you have said, I have no interest in you.”


Caster makes a small triumphant pose.

“As a man, I also have no feelings of desire towards Fujimura Taiga. Of course, that is also as a target of romantic interest.”


Fuji-Nee, having a hard time as expected.

Beside the triumphantly beaming Caster, Lancer was shaking his head and grinding his teeth.

“I would not mind if I were to accompany you out, but only as coworkers.”


Fuji-Nee visibly shrinks.

Please, please have mercy already.

It hurts. Just listening hurts more than I expected.

“That is how I thought.”


You "thought"?”

Lancer rises abruptly as he hears this.

There is a fiery glint in his eyes.

As I thought, he likes this kind of stuff after all.

“I am not interested in things such as human beings in general.

The joy and suffering in life. What do others think of themselves? Is there love here or has it turned to hatred?

How things weigh on a person's mind, whether or not one is dead or not, things such as that.”

“Eh, eeeh―――!?”

Fuji-Nee's voice could be heard over the entire store as she leans heavily onto the table.

“B-But, don't you have a wife?”

“Yes, I am married, but it was not a marriage of love.”

“Eh...? Th-Then, a marriage interview?

Or maybe your family forced this marriage on you?”

“If I were to say, it was like an arranged marriage.

However, rather than being forced upon from one side, it was more accidental.”

I fearfully watched Caster.

Caster's head was tilted downwards to the point where her facial expression, concealed behind her bangs, could not be seen. Lucky.

Even Lancer backed away a little, as if flinching.

“Wh... wh-wh-wh... wh-wh-wh...whhh... wha...”

With massive effort, Fuji-Nee takes a deep breath and somehow manages to calm herself, becoming as serene as the time she listened to a recital of Kenji Miyazawa's poetry.

She inquired again, with a still tremulous voice.

“W-What do you mean?”

“Even being indifferent to other people, I am able to live.”

“In my class, I teach that a human is a creature that cannot live alone, nowadays you can say that it's referred to as mutual security.

Though in practice, if you think you can do everything individually, you don't need others.

Tools, or objects even. Partners too; you need to think of other people as such at all times.”

“For example, with an efficient craving for possession, an animal consciously hunts alone, claims its own territory, mates with a partner to leave offspring, and drives others from its territory. In some cases, killing.”

“Aah. They say that female spiders eat the male after mating.”

“It would be typical to use the opposite sex for survival, don't you agree?”

“However, can it be said that the relationships which use love are efficient?

If you lose the favor of a partner you perform work together with, wouldn't you not be able to make a living?”

“I-I suppose so.

The need to consider the self-interests of your partner... is not necessary. You can survive.”

“Yes. It should be sufficient. If you just live alone.”


Looking back, I was astounded.

Lancer was moving his fingers towards the brooding Caster's bangs, all while smiling teasingly.

No, no way.

There's a bit of morbid fascination, even.

Is he planning on unleashing hell here?

I lean forward to try and prevent any reckless actions. I reach forward, but it was too late.

And in the next moment...

A fingertip slips into place and raises her bangs.

And what appeared―――

didn't look upset at all.

What appeared―――was a firm set of blue eyes.

It was a gentle smile full of confidence.

“Th―――That's no good!”

Fuji-Nee stood up abruptly, shaking her chair.


“You have to cherish your wife!”

Her face was turning red, and she was flailing her arms.

The tiger had appeared.

“I've never met her before―――

But I've seen the lunchbox you were eating in the staff room!”

“It wasn't extremely well made like our Shirou does it but, um well, if I had to say, well, it didn't look very good, or there was a real issue with its quality―――

But, it was something she poured her heart into!

I can tell, because I can't cook either!”

“Ah, wait, I'm not trying to say that she's not being helpful to you!”

“Besides, I heard from Shirou!

About how she's a foreigner, but she's still trying her best to get used to Japan. About how elegant and graceful you two are together―――”

“Sensei. Please put your cup down.

If it spills, you might burn yourself.”

“Oh, sure, sorry about th-”

Fuji-Nee tilts her head blankly.

“Eh... What the?

Umm, is this turning into one of those lovey dovey conversations where it's like I'm asking you to move on...?”


“I'm sorry!”

“I-Is that so? You're right.

Again, I'm such a thoughtless person.

But... Phew, I'm glad.”

“Me too.

I do not know how to respond to such a varying conversation.”

Kuzuki-sensei stretched his back, and took his hands from his lap and clasped them on the table.

Shining faintly on his ring finger, was a silver ring.

“Honestly, I don't have any words to answer your question directly.”

“Then, what you said a moment ago...?”

“That was simply what I believed in the past.”

“I-I see.”

“As your students have pointed out, you may be experiencing the anxiety of being single.

While recognizing what you lack yourself, you continue as a teacher―――wondering whether or not you can come to terms with yourself. That anxiety.”

“If that is the case, I as well have anxiety.

What should I do as a man with a wife?

What are the surrounding expectations?

How should I treat other women?

These matters are not clear to me.”

“The reason why such thoughts came to exist is for no other reason than meeting my wife.

We have no past with each other.

From the beginning, we simply were in the form of spouses.”

“There is a saying, "In form only." This is it exactly.

I was hollow. There was nothing to support my brittle existence. Thinking back now, I was saved by that form.”

“But now, can you say you love your wife?”


“W-Was that something I shouldn't have asked?”

“...I'm sorry.

I do not understand my own feelings. Or rather, it is that I do not have faith in them.

They are... something I should not have. For this reason, it is not possible for me to speak clearly of my own opinions.”

“Huh? So it's no good to have faith in yourself?”

“No, don't worry, my own self is one of the few things I have faith in.

...Well, I cannot definitively express this in words with the current state of things, but―――”

"Ahem," Kuzuki-sensei coughs softly.

“...Feelings, are a foolish and idle thing.

Right now, you may feel strongly about something, but to have those feelings wither by the next day would not be unusual.”

“For that reason, within this constant repetition of days, even if little by little, perhaps I am starting to recognize sentiments of my own.

However, instead of relying on the heat of the moment―――if I do not nurture them closely, they may not come to fruition.

Perhaps someday, even my hollowness will change. Yes, that is what I believed.”

“It might even be called, a weakness.

If there is nothing to protect, nothing to be lost, there is nothing to lose.

However, while you may be just as much alive―――it's also the same as being dead.”

“Even if I do not say it, my wife and I are a couple.

I am not a capable person, so maintaining the form of a couple requires all my effort.”

“I am not talkative, so I most likely look like a calm person, but I still feel that same anxiousness in front of my students.

However, to understand one's own imperfection and to continue to work one's hardest, is an admirable thing, is it not―――?”

“Yup. So it's a "fight" until the day I become a splendid teacher?”

“...And so the talk turns to martial arts...

Perhaps in this short life, the path to teaching others will be an endless road.

I think that it is a reliable attitude to continue devoting oneself tirelessly to study without losing one's head in pride.”

“That is all of the story that I am able to tell you, Fujimura-sensei.

It is an unpleasant tale, but if this helps you overcome your weakness as a teacher, I am satisfied.”

As he says this, Kuzuki-sensei lightly bows to Fuji-Nee.

Fuji-Nee's eyes begin to fill with tears.

“H-How refined! I want to get married! Aaaah, um, er...”

“Thank you very much.

I received an amazing energy boost!

Same here, as long as I can be of any help!”

Fuji-Nee suddenly bowed deeply, banging her head and arms on the table.

“As expected, that sure is an interesting woman.”

Lancer laughs freely.

“Even though she's a long way off from Souichirou-sama, she sure did cause a fuss.”

This one was laughing as well, but she was most likely seething with rage inside.

“Hah hah hah. Well, he's an honest man after all, I knew from the start.”

“...Lancer. His "Luck" ranking was just now updated from E to F.”

“What a fool. Hah hah hah.”

“You're paying for the tea. Since you were such a bother (whisper)”

“Ha ha hah... what?”

So as not to be noticed, we would slip out from the front entrance.

―――but as that was impossible, while stealthily creeping across the floor, we head towards the toilet, and tumble out from a narrow window, somehow or other succeeding in our plan.

“I caused some trouble, for you as well.”

I smile bitterly while dusting off my pants.


“However, I was happy to see another side of Fuji-Nee.”

“That person? She's such a bother.”

Caster shrugs, but somehow looks content.

“Be sure to serve her the largest dinner possible to fatten her up.”

“I will. And you too, don't be so mean to Issei... Issei...?”

“I can't guarantee anything. I am a witch after all.

...What's wrong? Your eyes are bulging.”

“Oh crap......

I completely forgot about Issei......”

“You had an appointment? It can't be helped. I'll help smooth things over for you.”

“Ack... S-Sorry...”

T-The shame. All the debt she owes has instantly gone back to zero.

After I saw Caster off, I recall the image of Lancer as a waiter.

I get the impression that he's going to have some trouble at his part-time job early on, but I feel that somehow, this one could last a while.

Emiya Residence・Start of Night Things to do