oneill: Haibane Renmei - Kuu, Rakka, and Hikari on a shopping trip (買い物 )
[personal profile] oneill posting in [community profile] sutepri
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Scrapped Princess | Canzonetta of the Unforgiven | The SpecOps Combat Technician, Once Again | Part 2/3

"Umm . . ."

Winia tipped her head to one side as she walked down the shopping avenue, holding in one hand the scrap of paper on which she had jotted down her shopping list. Two types of spices. Wheat flour. New dishes. Lamp oil. And nine other items of various types. That took care of everything.

"That should do it . . . I think."

"Great," Shannon said, leaning a bit to his left as he walked beside Winia.

This was because he wore his sword at his left hip as always, and on top of that, he carried nearly all of their purchases--in just his left hand, at that. He was strong enough that none of the items was especially heavy to him, but they were bulky and randomly arranged, which made walking extremely difficult. However much he tried to regain his balance, his body ended up leaning to one side.

"I was just thinking I wouldn't know what do to if we got any more than this."

"Why don't you carry them in both hands?"

"I like to carry stuff in my left hand," Shannon said, and then he abruptly reached his right hand out toward Winia.

". . . Eh?"

A soft whump.

The sound of a ball striking the earth overlapped with a child's flustered apology. Shannon's right hand had just barely managed to knock it away, but from a distance, it had probably looked like the ball hit Winia in the head.

"Whoa, there." Even as he staggered under the burden in his left hand, Shannon used his right foot to halt the fallen ball, then kicked it in the direction of the voice.

"Thanks! Thank you!"

"Pay attention when you're playing, now," Shannon said in an apathetic voice ill-suited to giving advice.

He resumed walking. For a moment, Winia stood stock still, without quite understanding what had happened, but then she hurried to catch up and walk beside him.

"Th--thank you."

"Don't mention it."

Shannon's tone, of course, made it sound as though it had been a bother. To all appearances, not a thing in the world was any concern of his.

"Really, I'll carry half."

"Pass. It'd be a pain in the ass, handing things over one by one."

So saying, Shannon picked up his pace a little. Not venturing to catch back up to him this time, Winia smiled wryly as she gazed at his back. It seemed he had absolutely no intention of allowing her to carry their purchases.

He was a blunt and awkward young man, but Winia liked him . . . at least, compared to the smooth-talking men they had in those parts.

Truly kind people did not go around making an unabashed show of that kindness.

She walked along as she thought these things over, and then--

A vast field of jet black spread out before her eyes.

"Mmph--?"

She had bumped into Shannon's back after he came to a sudden stop. Grabbing her sore nose, Winia raised her voice to his black back.

"Shannon . . . san?"

For one moment.

A sensation raced through her, as though every hair on her body were standing on end.

She did not understand why. But Shannon's profile--as he stood in the middle of the road, staring into space--was lurid.

"U--um . . . ?"

The quiet clink of metal.

Shannon had tightened his grip on his katana; Winia had not seem him reach for it. He had carelessly dropped their packages to the ground and pulled his sheath near, as though ready to draw it at any moment, and with the greatest of speed.

Feeling cold, Winia unconsciously took half a step away from him.

"Uh . . . um, er, l--let's not stand around in a place like this. Let's hurry back . . . Pacifica's going to get angry again, you know. Saying, 'You're late!' Um . . . I know it's a bother having to carry so much, but, but still, er . . ."

Even as Winia babbled incoherently on in her confusion, a sober part deep inside her mind thought, No. What am I even saying?

Shannon had not stopped over something like that. She knew that, that the stupid things she was blurting were completely off the mark. But she could not find the words she should say instead.

. . . It's an enemy.

Most likely, another enemy had arrived. Their bloodlust, or whatever it was . . . Winia could not imagine it, but Shannon had probably felt those signs and so taken his weapon in hand.

But Winia did not want to acknowledge that. She had a feeling that if she did, then he and Pacifica, and Raquel, would go far away . . . to a world entirely different from her own.

The blunt yet kind Shannon. The Shannon who considered everything a bother, but who put his whole heart into everything he did. The Shannon who had a soft spot for his little sister, even though he was always getting into fights with her.

And yet.

Winia's eyes moved to his waist . . . as though drawn by the longsword that he gripped.

A sword. A lethal weapon. A tool for murder.

He gave off two contradictory impressions.

Winia gazed at the back before her eyes, her blood chilling.

Had he ever killed a person? To protect his little sister . . . to safeguard one life, had he ever taken another?

". . . Was it just my imagination?" Shannon murmured. Then, as though noticing Winia for the first time, he looked back over his shoulder. "Oh . . . sorry. What'd you say?"

"Ah, um . . . That it's almost dinnertime, so we should hurry back . . ."

"Oh, right."

Shannon gathered up the packages, dispersing the previous moment's tension as though it had never been.

The packages jingled.

". . . ah."

"AHHH!"

Upon realizing what that sound meant, Winia cried out despite herself. She looked at Shannon, and found "Oh, hell" written all over his face.

"The dishes!"

Apparently, they had shattered the moment they fell.

"Oh, I knew it--some of them shattered. This is why I told you to be careful . . ."

"Well, uhh . . ."

Excuses briefly passed through his mind . . .

". . . Sorry," Shannon said, innocuously bowing his head.

"Please go on ahead, Shannon-san. I'm going to buy replacements."

"Eh? But that's--"

"A bargain like that doesn't happen every day. If I don't seize this chance, I'll miss out."

So saying, Winia broke into a run.

Shannon ran after her reflexively . . . then, on hearing the sound of broken tableware, he stilled his legs. If he were to run under these circumstances, even the unbroken plates would probably end up as useless fragments.

"Well . . . whatever."

After watching Winia vanish into the evening crowds, Shannon turned on his heel to head back to the Big Bear.



The sunlight that came in through the windows had completely turned the color of the setting sun. It was time for the inns and the dining halls to begin preparations for supper, and soon even ordinary households would as well.

"They're really late, those two," Pacifica said, as she drank tea with Raquel in the Big Bear's dining room. The Big Bear had never had such opulent effects as mechanical clocks to begin with, though, so she did not know the exact time.

"Mm-hm."

Raquel--who was recovering from her cold--nodded along indifferently, a book in one hand. Incidentally, it was titled The Encyclopedia of Spells. Simply put, it was something like a dictionary that recorded those casting rituals officially recognized by the Royal Institute of Sorcery for the implementation of magic.

It listed only fundamental spells, and of course no mention was made of military-grade magic (the study of which was strictly regulated) or specialized spells.

However, a mage of Raquel's caliber could combine casting rituals, thereby fabricating new rituals with different effects. Apparently, she had gotten various ideas for new casting rituals while she was convalescing in bed, and she had spent yesterday and today in the dining room, fairly buried in her books.

"When she said she was going shopping, I didn't think she could mean that much shopping."

"Mm-hm."

"I wonder whether something happened."

"Mm-hm."

". . ."

Pacifica stared coldly at her elder sister. Perhaps Raquel noticed her little sister's gaze, and perhaps she did not; either way, her eyes carelessly followed the book's writing across the page.

"Like maybe they went on a date."

"Mm-hm."

". . . Winia's Shannon-nii's type, yeah?"

"I've heard that he prefers long hair, though," Raquel promptly replied. "Well, he was popular in Sunday school, so I'm sure he's developed an eye for girls . . . Oh, that reminds me. I remember him saying something about not being picky about breast size or slender ankles."

"You've always been like that, haven't you, Raquel-nee?" After dropping her gaze to her own chest for a moment, Pacifica glared sidelong at her elder sister. "You look completely out of it, but you're right on top of things."

"How rude," Raquel said, sounding completely out of it. "I am not completely out of it."

Raquel closed her book and looked up. Pacifica noticed that her carefree expression held a mischievous smile, and she recoiled momentarily. When Raquel wore that expression, it boded ill.

"Wh--what?"

"Honestly . . . You really are an oniichan's girl, Pacifica."

"Y--yeah, right!" Pacifica shouted and then turned away.

"'I don't want you to take Oniichan 'way!'"

Raquel spoke in a voice like a spoiled child--an impersonation of someone, perhaps--and Pacifica's blood climbed into her face all at once.

"Do you remember? When you were five--"
Scrapped Princess - Raquel Casull smiles mischievously at Pacifica's embarrassment.
"I forgot! Forgot! I don't remember that at all! It's the truth! It's passed completely and totally into oblivion!"

Pacifica pounded both hands on the table as she shouted. However, Raquel continued as though she could not see it.

"--and Shannon tried to go play with a neighbor girl--"

"UNUAAA, STOP! IT!"

Pacifica wrapped her arms around her head and rolled over onto the floor. She seemed quite embarrassed.

. . . In the end, when Raquel had finished recounting her "example," Pacifica lay exhausted on the floor.

"Ooh . . . you're so mean."

"But Pacifica, you never want me to baby you like that." In a sense, Raquel's slightly sulky tone made her seem far more childish than Pacifica.

"I don't want ANYONE to baby me!" Pacifica shouted as she resumed her seat.

". . . Pacifica."

Hearing the subtle shift in Raquel's tone, Pacifica blinked.

"Wh--what?"

"Don't worry."

Her elder sister's eyes seemed to see right through everything. Raquel reached her white hand out to touch Pacifica's hair.

"Shannon's not going anywhere."

A brief silence. Understanding the meaning of those abrupt words all too well, Pacifica dropped her gaze to the edge of the table and said, "I know . . . but--"

"Neither am I. Even if we're just 'playing house' . . . Which is exactly what makes what we have all the more precious than if we just took it for granted that we'd be together. That's what I think. So don't worry. Because it's not out of a sense of duty, or obligation, or anything like that . . . We're by your side because we want to be."

". . . yeah." Looking a little bashful, Pacifica gave a small nod.

---

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Date: 2012-04-25 05:16 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] badtzhobby
Thank you for part 2 and so soon, too.
... and that's how things get started!
I really like the scene between Pacifica and Rachel. It's so poignant. Rachel and Shannon stand by Pacifica against everyone.

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