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Cowboys

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The outside world returning means different things to different people. For Billy, it means Chaldea is quieter, with many of the Servants being dismissed. For his Master, it means catching up on Twitter.

“Hey, Billy!” Ritsuka is grinning with her hand still on the mouse, and Billy braces himself. “Do you know who the very first cowboy was?”

A question like that takes him off guard, and he has to give it serious thought. “Eh… probably somebody from Mexico, but the very first one? I got no clue.”

“Wrong.” Ritsuka’s grin gets wider. “It was Asterios.”

It takes a second for Billy to process that terrible, terrible pun, but once he does he sighs heavily. “Glad you’re havin’ fun, Master.”


It’s later in the day that he finds Asterios eating dinner by himself.

His first thought isn’t of his conversation earlier. Instead, it’s that he wouldn’t have expected Asterios to want to stay in Chaldea. From what he’s heard, he likes the quiet and being alone.

(The same could be said of Billy, and he’s still here, because…)

“Hey.” He tips his hat to Asterios. “Mind if I join you?”

“…Okay.” Even when he’s sitting, Asterios still has to look down at Billy. “Hat is wrong?”

“Oh - nah, it’s just something cowboys do when they meet somebody. Real polite.”

“Mmm…” Asterios tugs a bit on his hair. Trying to tip his hat in return without having a hat, Billy realizes.

So he takes his own hat off and holds it out to Asterios. “Here, put this on. -Mind the horns.”

Carefully, as if he’s holding something as fragile as paper - maybe it is, to him - Asterios sets the hat on his head, between the horns. He pulls it down enough that it almost covers his eyes.

It’s cute, Billy decides but doesn’t say out loud. “There ya go. You’re a real cowboy now.”

Asterios growls.

Bad choice of words. “Not like that! That’s what they call people who ride horses and keep the sheep and the cows from wanderin’ in the Old West. I’m a cowboy too, y’know.”

“…You too?” Asterios isn’t baring his teeth at him anymore, so that’s good. Now he just looks confused.

“Me and lots of guys from back then. Heck, the girls too. Annie Oakley could outshoot me and I ain’t too proud to admit it.”

“…He…roes?”

Billy wouldn’t call himself a hero, just a particularly famous outlaw. He knows plenty of stories of the same - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and a hundred others.

But for Asterios, who was never given the chance to be anything but a monster, he tells the stories of heroes, or at least people who did no wrong. Annie Oakley, Davy Crockett. Doc Scurlock, who left Billy’s posse and settled down, and Billy begrudges him not even a tiny bit for it. Asterios listens in rapt fascination to the tales of cowboys and cowgirls who were loved and admired by others for what they were, not locked away in disgust.

While Billy’s taking a moment to think of another cowboy to bring up, Asterios says. “Not that cowboy. …No sheep.” He looks crestfallen.

Billy considers asking Ritsuka to Rayshift to Orelans and steal some sheep for Asterios. Then he considers something a tiny bit more practical. “That’s alright, ‘cause you can be something even better.”

Asterios perks up. “Better?”

“That’s right. You can be the sheriff. The sheriff’s in charge of making people not do bad stuff and seein’ that everybody’s safe.” He’s pretty sure that Asterios would be as least as good a sheriff as Pat, and probably better. “All the cowboys respect the sheriff.”

“How?” Asterios’ eyes are sparkling.

“All you need is a sheriff’s badge.” The other parts with elections and all aren’t important. Billy is the only Wild West guy here and he’s electing Asterios to the office. “I’ll get you one, alright?”

“Okay.”


Of course, Billy doesn’t just have a sheriff’s badge lying around, and he doesn’t want to try to make one himself. Even if Asterios wouldn’t recognize the difference in quality from the genuine article, Billy would.

So he goes to da Vinci and asks (begs) her for a sheriff’s badge that Asterios can wear on his armor. Of course she’s busy doing more important stuff for Chaldea and doesn’t have much spare time and he knows that but please-

Da Vinci smiles and tells him she’ll get right on it, and an hour later returns with a badge that will comfortably clip onto armor. It looks just like a real one, shiny and new, and says “Office of the Sheriff - County of Chaldea.”

When Billy gives it to Asterios, he puts it on, and for a minute just stares at it.

“…Sher…iff.”

“That’s right. Sheriff Asterios.”

“…Protect?”

“That’s your job.”

“…Good… person…”

“That’s you.”

Asterios shakes his head, and when Billy is ready to insist that Asterios is a good person or at least better than he thinks, he says, “Is you.”

Billy’s heart melts, and he can’t think of anything to say in reply except, “…Thanks.”

The badge never gets taken off.