Ch2: Sakura's Stalking
I watch them.
I watch from the distance, an older brother picking up his little sister from elementary school. A middle schooler with red hair and amber eyes, the "weirdo" who punched my older brother by "reflex", or that was how my older brother Shinji had explained it to me.
They're walking home just as they always do. He grips the smaller dark haired girl's hand so tightly as if she would disappear if he let go. They look happy. They're happy aren't they? As if they occupy their own little world.
They're so lucky, now only if there was a truck that would appear out of nowhere and deliver them to another world.
I'm a bad girl aren't I?
He quickly turns his gaze and glances in my direction and I quickly hide. Even though I can't see his face from behind the pole, I can feel his stare, fierce and unrelenting. Not anything like the gentle expression he had on before. He doesn't notice me. He doesn't notice me. I'm plain after all, completely uninteresting. No one notices me. No one notices me. So it would be arrogant to think he noticed me.
I have been watching the boy for a while now it seems. It would be fine if I was just a girl who was stalking the boy I liked, but I'm only following Grandfather's orders.
"Watch the Emiya boy."
The boy gingerly grips that small hand and continues walking. That girl is lucky isn't she? She has such a good brother. I watch them. I watch them. I watch them as they pass the overpass. I watch them crossing the street when the light turns green. I watch them across the street. I plan my route and continue my pursuit. I wonder why grandfather didn't just use familiars to watch him? Unless that boy too is a mage and can trace familiars back….no, it's impossible.
The way he holds that small hand, his considerate walking pace for someone smaller than him, such things are not things a proper mage should be able to do. For a proper mage, family members are just things. Things to be sold off. Things to be used. Like me.
Grandfather must have had a reason, but I'm just too stupid to understand it right?
I watch the pair or I should still have been watching, but I could see them no longer. It seemed I was lost in my stupid thoughts and lost them. How stupid of me right? Stupid stupid me.
My skin is crawling. It itches, but I'm used to the sensation. Focus Sakura. I slap my cheeks to get my mind on track.
As I run forward, I see the pair once again and see them stopping in front of a gate.
That's a very big traditional eastern-style house they live in isn't it? Quite rich aren't they? Not only does that cute little girl have such a caring brother, she comes from money too?
I'm really a bad girl aren't I?
Someone had grabbed my shoulder. I turn my gaze and see a juvenile looking brunette with a pony tail and tracksuit.
"You've been at this for a while haven't you? Being shy is one thing, but it isn't good to keep things the way they are."
I'm being lectured? The young brown haired woman takes my arm and we approach the two siblings at the doorway. The boy glances in my direction and I cannot escape the amazon's grip.
"Fuji-nee….wait you're….," the boy starts.
I try not to meet the boy's gaze, but he suddenly puts his hands on my face, feeling for it.
"Sak..ura?..," he whispers.
It must have been my imagination. I'm a bad, bad girl. There's no way he should have known my name. My train of thought is broken when the older woman smacks the back of the boy's head.
"What was that for?" he says as he rubs his head as the older woman scolds him.
"You have no tact do you?"
"From someone who calls herself a home security guard?" the boy muses.
"Stop putting words into my mouth, I'm a 19 year old college student," she says with a wicked grin, beating her arm against her chest.
The boy clears his throat and extends his hand.
"Sorry, I'm Shirou and you are?" he says with a smile.
"...Sakura…," I force myself to say.
I take his hand. The hand of a nice boy. It's warm, but…
If he's nice to me, then he's nice to everyone. I'm not special. The truth is cruel, then lies must be kind. Kindness is a lie.
I can't expect him to help me. I can't expect him to save me. I know how it ends for people who try. That's why, I won't expect anything. I don't want him to save me. I don't need someone to save me. It's not like he would even try if he knew. I'm a bad girl.
"How nice. You get to hold a girl's hand, but…..what was up with that vacant stare earlier, Shirou? Saw a ghost? Love at first sight?" the woman teases the boy.
The boy looks away, but the older...no…..young lady nudges the boy all smug like until the little girl tugs on her leg.
"Stop bullying my brother," she says with her cheeks puffed out while pouting.
It was cute. If only I could be that cute.
"Do you want to help with dinner?….Fuji-nee….," the boy starts.
"Hey, I might not be able to cook as well as…," the college girl interjects.
The mature little girl stares at the childlike woman.
"Right….even an elementary schooler is a better cook," she says dejectedly on all fours.
"Make yourself at home," the little girl says as she bows.
"Watch the Emiya boy."
Well, staying for dinner doesn't contradict Grandfather's orders. I resign myself to my fate. Just as I resign myself to everything.
I stare at the boy and take in his features. I didn't notice before when I was watching him from the distance, but the bags under his eyes are hard not to notice. They are not something that belong on someone his age. Nor is my vacant expression. The kind boy too has things he wants to hide. He's a liar.
Even so, lies are kind.
The months pass and become years. Watching him standing over the stove while I stand over the cutting board with knife in hand has become something of a daily routine once school was over. Enough of staring, I clear my head.
Vegetables are in front of me and I cut them.
I cut them. I cut, I cut, I cut. I cut them to pieces. The tomatoes and the cucumbers too.
They were botanically fruit, but I cut them like vegetables. I cut them like vegetables, because they were vegetables.
I cut them the way he taught me.
"Are you alright?" Miyu asks me with a worried look.
"I'm alright," I say as I shoot her with a smile.
A man and a woman preparing dinner while a little girl observes, while Taiga waits in the living room waiting for the food to be done. This must be what a normal family is like. That's a lie.
I cherish these ordinary days.
The days he spends fixing appliances around the school while I watch. Even my older brother comes to check on us from time to time. Which he shouldn't have.
"He's an idiot, but….he's a useful idiot," was my brother's way of complimenting someone.
Issei sometimes watches too. Though I wish he didn't.
The boy named Shirou is persistent and stubborn. When someone needs help, he'll comply, even if it's a hassle or even if it's impossible. I like it when he fails. I'm a bad girl.
He'll stubbornly insist that something can't be fixed can be fixed. His little sister doesn't help in this regard. After a few hours, Miyu would appear after she was done with the library and fixes it for him as if by magic. …..A grade skipping genius she is. A perfect girl that can do anything as long as she wishes for it. Something of a brother complex too…..
I follow him to his part time job as I take a position too.
I watch him fire arrows on the range. I like the way he does it. Not forcefully like others, but naturally, as if he was the bow itself. Like a machine.
I cherish these ordinary days…..and I'm sure he does too because we aren't ordinary.
These peaceful ordinary days won't last, but until then we will keep living this lie because the truth is cruel.
Senpai notches an arrow and draws the bowstring back.
"Do you have a dream, Senpai?" I ask, as he draws the bowstring.
"I'm living one right now... and I don't want to wake up," he answers. It seemed like something in him had chipped a little.
Even though there are things we cannot say to one another, I like to think we understand each other but that's only my delusion, my lie, my dream.
He releases the arrow and the cruel arrow strikes true.