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Chapter 3 - The Setting Sun

The bracers' questioning went by quickly, and they released me once I was able to explain the situation. The other man was released as well, though not before a stern lecture.

'Sheesh. You're a real pain, you know that?'

When I ran into Henry the next day, he was already annoyed with me.

'I told you to wait, didn't I?' he said, the crease in his forehead growing, 'What would you have done if you got hurt butting in like that? What even possessed you to jump in, anyway?'

Usually Henry didn't lay into me like this until much later in the day.

'Clementine was in trouble. You told me if I helped her, she'd like me, right?' I responded.

A flash of anger spread across Henry's face. This was his usual reaction when my matter-of-fact responses got under his skin. Sure enough, it was quickly replaced with his usual look of exhausted resignation.

'After you left, she asked for your name, and I told her.'

'Oh. Thanks.' Despite my dull response to Henry, my mind started racing.

'Now you've gone from 'just another customer' to 'that crazy guy who almost got beaten up',' he said with half a smirk. 'She was disappointed she didn't get the chance to thank you.'

'Really?' My head started swimming at the news.

'When I stepped in to that argument...I could see she was shaking,' I said, thinking back.

'Well, of course she was,' Henry said, 'Anyone would've been scared in a situation like that. She must have a pretty strong will to have kept her cool like she did?

'Yeah,' I said, 'I think she's a strong woman. If something like that happens again, I want to be there to help her.'

'Oh, yeah?' Henry shot me a sardonic look, 'Well, I'm not gonna save your ass next time.'


My head suddenly stopped swimming, and the gears in my brain started turning at full speed.

'You're the one who called the bracers,' I said, thinking back to the night before. I had seen him taking out his Comm orbment before I got up.

'Yup. I'm just glad they got there before SOMEONE got his face caved in.' He grinned.

' You're a real pain in the ass, Henry, but you're a good guy at heart.' I smiled back at him.

'Right?' he started to laugh, before realizing what precisely I'd said. 'Wait just a sec! WHO'S the pain in the ass, here?!'

I went to the restaurant that afternoon. Clementine noticed me come in and hurried over.

'This way. I'll show you to your seat,' she said with a smile.

I followed her to a corner of the restaurant. A table had been set up away from the other customers.

'I was a little worried you wouldn't come back after what happened yesterday,' she said, sheepishly.

'Don't worry. Something like that isn't enough to scare me off.' I laughed. 'But what about you? How are you doing?'

'I feel terrible,' she said, hanging her head a little, 'Maybe if I'd handled things better, you wouldn't have been dragged off by the bracers.'

'That wasn't your fault. I just jumped in because I felt like it,' I said, puffing out my chest, just the tiniest bit.

'But--' she started.

'Besides, you stood in the way to protect me, too, right?' I smiled at her. 'We helped each other out.'

She smiled back, blushing ever so slightly.

'Even so, I still want to show my gratitude. Today, your meal's on the house, so get whatever you like! The same goes for your friend.' Clementine quickly looked around, realizing Henry wasn't with me.

'Oh, he couldn't make it today,' I said, 'So I guess I'll just have to eat his meal, too.'

Both of us burst into laughter.

By the time I left the restaurant, the sun was setting.

'Thanks again for the meal,' I said, 'I really enjoyed myself.'

Clementine walked me to the entrance.

'I'm glad to hear it. To be honest, I was worried you might have been bored. You had this dreamy sort of look on your face.'

'What? No! There's no way I could've been bored. After all, I--uh, I mean...'

I stumbled over my words and trailed off. Clementine tilted her head at me, confused by my babbling.

'I-I mean,'s so nice today! Yeah, that's it.' I stammered out the first thing that popped into my mind, but it just confused her further.

'Huh? What does that have to do with anything?' she asked.

'Um. I guess it, uh...doesn't,' I broke down into nervous laughter, but Clementine just giggled along with me.

'You're so funny, Edgar. I hope you come back soon. I'll be waiting for you,' she said.

'I'll be waiting, too. Anything you need, just let me know. You can count on me whenever,' I told her.

'Huh?' She still seemed a little confused, but she smiled at me. 'Right. I'll do just that.'

'I'm serious,' I said, 'I want to be there for you. Any time you need me.'

She let out a little gasp. They were a little roundabout, but my words had gotten through to her.

'If you'll excuse me, then.' I gave her one more smile before I headed out.

I began walking home, but after a moment, I heard someone calling my name from behind me.

I turned around to see you there, waving at me. Your bright smile shone all the more brilliantly as the golden light of the setting sun washed over you.

第3巻  「茜さす君に」

「そうだろ? ……って、一言余計だ」          
「え? ……そうですね。その時は頼らせてください」