It was rare for Emiya to have a day off of kitchen duty, he thought to himself as he walked through the halls of Chaldea.
“You’re here morning to night every day, go take a break and do something fun! Relax a little for once!” Tamamo Cat’s words still echoed in his mind as he realized he wasn’t really given the day off so much as forced to leave.
He ran through his mind on what to do now. Master had gone on a mission, and likely wouldn’t be back for some time. He had meant to go to the training room, but it was currently occupied by a blue-clad servant he’d much rather avoid if he could.
The voice struck him from his thoughts, as he turned to see who it was.
Saber. The servant that had been by his side in a long forgotten past, that he had even fought against on a few occasions. The legendary King of Knights, Artoria Pendragon.
“Archer! I have been looking all over for you! You have abandoned your post at the cafeteria, and as such left the duties to Tamamo Cat who continues to ignore my requests!”
He was taken aback by the sudden berating and waved her off with a slight look of annoyance in his face. “Calm down. It wasn’t my choice to leave anyway. I was forced out by that damned cat.” The gears turned in his head. He may have found something to pass the time, at least. “But if you’re so insistent, I suppose I can make something for you.”
Artoria’s eyes seemed to light up for just a moment before clearing her throat. “In that case, we will have to secure a kitchen. Seeing as the cafeteria is off limits, I would suggest one of the auxiliary kitchens near the back.”
Emiya nodded and began walking, with Artoria slightly behind. Neither spoke as they walk, though it’s likely they’d have nothing new to say to each other. Neither of the servants had been sent back to the Throne of Heroes since they were summoned at Chaldea, and thus had no new experiences the other didn’t already know of.
“Jaguar,” echoed a strange, yet familiar voice.
Emiya and Artoria’s eyes jolted to their left, noticing an open door to a servant’s room, though the inside was completely shrouded in darkness. Artoria quickly placed her hand in front of Emiya. “Shir-” She caught herself. “Archer, watch out!”
A figure clad in what seemed to be a tiger kigurumi pounced out of the room, her leg extended toward Archer. Much to her dismay, however, he simply moved back a little, causing her to continue at high speeds into the nearby wall. She groaned as she toppled to the ground, laughing a little. “Eheheh...something inside meow said that you would nyat be able to avoid that...guess I was wrong.”
Emiya looked down at her, an expression of shock on his face. He’d seen glimpses of her running around Chaldea, but he could never get a clear look at her. But now, it was absolutely certain. This was his old teacher, and the one he had seen as a big sister at a time. Yet still, she wasn’t. Almost immediately, his mind clicked with a new idea. “Jaguar Warrior, was it? By any chance, are you hungry? I’m going to prepare some food for Saber, so one more really isn’t a big deal.”
Her eyes lit up as she immediately bounced back up to her feet. “What a pawwsitively enticing offer. I’ll have to take you up on that!” She gave a wide smile and took her place in the lineup next to Artoria who had her hand on her sword at the ready. Just in case.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve got to make one more stop first.” Of course, even if they did, he would still go. It was just polite to mention first. It took until they got closer to her door for Artoria to realize what he was doing.
Emiya walked forward, knocking on the golden door. Most doors in Chaldea were simple metal, but this one was special. It had been replaced at the behest of the inhabitant. Ornate, but rather useless as a door, he thought. There was no answer on the first knock, but the closed door meant someone was inside. He knocked again, slightly louder this time. There was rustling in response, which was promising at least. He went to knock a third time, though a paw placed itself on Emiya’s chest as the Jaguar Warrior walked forward, smiling proudly. “Allow me.”
The other two servants cleared space as the oddly dressed lancer stepped back. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and cocked her arm back. “Jaguaaaaaar…” She launched herself forward with speed akin to a rider or an assassin. An orange blur as she connected with the door. “Knock!”
The power in the strike seemed to reverberate through the hallway, as if the door itself was a gong that had just been rung. A malicious air rolled over the three servants as they heard the stomping of the room’s inhabitant towards them. The golden door slowly slid open showing the exhausted, and clearly very angry, Ishtar. She wore a smile on her face, though the malicious intent certainly shined through.
“Let’s see...one, two, and three. Yes, three servants that I’ll have to kill for imposing upon my sleep. Unless, of course, you come with offerings. Depending on what it is, I may make your death painless, at the very least!”
Emiya stepped forward, holding his hands up.”Calm down, we didn’t come here for a fight. I just wanted to see if you’d like to join us for lunch.”
The smile on Ishtar’s face dropped, as she slowly become more clearly irritated. “Who in the world do you think you are?! You wake me up, tell me to calm down, and ask me to join you for lunch?! And from the look of things, you’re hardly even a servant! And you dare ask a Goddess like me to lower herself to your level and join you...for lunch?!”
She scanned her eyes over the other two. Artoria seemed ready for a fight, having already drawn her sword. Jaguar Warrior didn’t really look like she was focusing on anything. It was almost as if she was preoccupied with her own separate thoughts right now. Ishtar considered wiping them all out then and there. It would certainly be easy enough without Master around. However, a small thought gave her pause.
“Honestly, it’s annoying, but his food is good. I think you should take him up on the offer.”
She grumbled loudly to herself, looking back at the Archer. “Fine. Against my better judgement, I will spare the three of you for now. But you better make it the best meal I’ve ever had!”
Emiya cracked a very slight smile. He figured that would work. “I can’t guarantee it’ll be the best, but I’m confident in my skills.”
The group walked alongside each other, with Ishtar gliding slightly above. After a while, they finally reached the auxiliary kitchen. It didn’t seem to be anything fancy, but there were plenty of appliances and a table, so it would do.
“It’ll just take a moment. So go ahead and make yourselves comfortable,” he suggested, as he began looking through the fridge for ingredients. The others did just that as they sat across from each other. Initially, there was quite a bit of tension and silence, though that was quickly broken up as soon as Jaguar Warrior opened her mouth.
They chatted together as Emiya cooked. About the coming lunch primarily, but nothing was really out of the question. They guessed about what food they thought would be presented, spoke of delicacies they’ve eaten in lives long since lived, and suggested what they thought their next missions would be. Conversations shifted through the topics and laughter filled the room. It seemed like no time at all until Emiya had finished cooking.
He always outdid himself in the cafeteria, of course, but it seemed like something made him put forward just a little more effort than usual. Fish, rice, steak, steamed vegetables, and some soup. He placed everything on the table and went to get some drinks. As he leaned into the fridge, he heard someone call out behind him.
“Shiro~ou, grab me a beer please!”
He turned around, grumbling. “They don’t even stock that here, you drunkard.”
The three servants stopped conversing for a moment and looked at him, confused. Artoria was the first to speak up. “Stock what, Archer?”
His response was delayed, as the scene in front of him was so familiar, yet so different. Dwelling in the past had never worked out well for him before, but this felt okay at least. He smiled and shook his head. “Nevermind.” He moved back to the fridge, grabbing the drinks and bringing them to the table.
From that day forward, and it wasn’t often, whenever the four of them had a spare moment away from their duties and missions, you could find them enjoying a meal together in one of the back kitchens of Chaldea. Staff and servants passing by would say that it almost resembled a family of sorts. And while a few of them may not openly admit it, they felt the same.