(Hello all! Your purveyor of Ansems with a strange new flavor today (what do you mean there's no crossover in this story?!). Here is a Negi/Kono/Setsu twoshot (part II tomorrow, folks.) which may or may not become a series of oneshots with this trio as the main theme. I'm surprised nobody's tried this... or maybe they're all afraid of the KonoSetsu shippers. Either way, I wanted to try something new... or at least sorta new, since Ambrant dabbled with this at least once. Enough rambling from me, let's get it on!)

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Her and His and Her Circumstances

I. "Conversation Pieces I"

"It feels strange talking to you like this," Negi Springfield, talented mage and hero extraordinaire, sat on a small table outside of a local tea place in Mahora Academy. "But I really don't think I could pour my heart out to anyone else... without being a jerk to their feelings that is."

The person across from him merely gave a reassuring smirk. "No hard feelings. It has been a while since I last saw you. Speaking of which, how's your marriage going?"

"That's... exactly what I want to talk about," Negi sighed. Being married at such a young age was a bit unsettling, but it had nice benefits. Namely, his significant other he was now betrothed to—Konoka Konoe.

"Konoka is an amazing woman," Negi smiled. "She's beautiful, charming, intelligent, and caring... not to mention powerful. I already knew these things when I became her teacher at age ten, but now I can fully appreciate it."

"Eishun's kid? Ha, I was wondering why he's been nice to me," Negi's almost elder double remarked.

"Faaatheerrrr!" Negi complained. "Seriously! Two years ago, I was at the highlight of my life. With the embarrassing puberty business far behind me, I actually asked Dean Konoe to arrange an omiai with Konoka. I felt like we really... connected, and the rest, they say, is history."

"Considering all those girls that were in love with you, it can't be easy history. You're getting almost as bad as Jack." Yeah, Nagi Springfield did remember that his son once told him his history through Jack Rakan's eyes. It took him a whole two months to give him his real point of view, and it wasn't even that different.

"Father, let me say this," Negi calmly but firmly cut him off. "I know marrying Konoka disappointed a lot of people in my class. Lord knows there were several gunning for me seriously, and I know Nodoka-san and Ayaka-san did not take it well. But there was one other who did not quite survive my decision unscathed."

Nagi thought for a moment, and then the answer hit him. Another person connected to his friend. "Setsuna Sakurazaki."

"Yes. She was happy for her charge, and she was happy for me, but something obviously told me she didn't dig this as nearly as much as I originally thought. I was too oblivious at the time, being elated and all, but I understood right after my honeymoon—both of us were worried sick about Setsuna. That's where this begins."

"Uh-huh," Nagi noted.

"Setsuna is horribly selfless when it comes to Konoka, and she bears a love for her so obvious I even saw it when I was ten. Fucking ten! And yet Konoka chose me," Negi stopped, his voice quieter. "I wondered back then if Konoka was simply oblivious to her best friend's more romantic desires—it is too cruel of me to say 'her loss' though. And because both of us have gotten so powerful, Setsuna may have felt weak in comparison—not that she actually is weak...

"Then next time we hear of Setsuna, she's nearly gotten herself killed trying to take down several powerful creatures at once (Somehow she still won, though). The mages were suspicious about it and had her placed under suicide watch," Negi recalled seeing that broken bird in that hospital, and it broke his heart—let alone Konoka's. "Konoka and I wound up staying long hours that day, just to bring her comfort."

"So her unrequited love, followed by her feeling useless with you guarding Konoka, made her suicidal?" Nagi clarified. "I hope she's all right, and sorry for being an idiot, but I'm not seeing the connection yet."

"You'll see when I get to it." Negi answered. "Anyway, that day in the hospital started everything now. Konoka would not leave Setsuna's side—I had to drag her away by force. In retrospect that's pretty dumb, but I thought Setsuna had to be strong on her own or she'd never get over it. Then it started happening. Sometimes Konoka would be gone for days at a time, and she'd start feeling guilty during errmm... sessions," Negi did NOT like the grin that formed on his father's face. This was why talking to your father was awkward. Negi felt prudent to not mention that said sessions were also too good. "Sometimes I'd see feathers in her belongings. About then I was suspicious Konoka was having an affair."

"I was going to confront her about it. But... I love the woman so much I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt—or rather I just wanted her to be honest about it. Not to mention the person she was having an affair with was a dear friend of hers—no, ours. And then finally... last night, she confessed," Negi's tone changed to something laced with bitterness with a good helping of guilt and sadness. "'I'm sorry, Negi! I'm cheating on you with Secchan!' Know what my response was, despite being angry?"

Nagi raised his eyebrows, as if to say, "Go on."

Negi sighed. The grimace on his face was a perfect replica of his father's. "'Took you long enough.'"

The Thousand Master laughed hard. "My god, was the sexual tension between those two that thick?!"

"Yes it was!" Negi bellowed, something like anger welling up in his voice, but there was not enough malice, so it simply came off as excitement. "So I said, 'That girl was head over heels for you and you didn't even fucking notice?!' Yeah, that question has been buzzing around 3-A ever since our field trip to Kyoto way back then. So you can imagine how long we've been dealing with Setsuna being obviously lovestruck.

"It gets even better," Negi added. "Turns out she was FAR from oblivious of it. She said something to the effect of 'I'd be stupid to not notice... but now my heart's in two.' Back then I was worried that she didn't love me as I loved her, and married me only to keep her grandfather and father off her back. I asked then 'what the hell does that mean!? Did you always hold those feelings? Were you only using me as a means of keeping up some sort of normalcy facade?!'"

"Normalcy facade? The hell is that?" Nagi's face was contorted with confusion and annoyance. "Geez kid, you're way too serious when it comes to love! Trying to keep yourself all serious for that long, I'm still amazed that you managed to keep professional!"

"Don't remind me," Negi sulked. "Somehow I keep thinking me being in that super-perv class was completely intentional from all sides..." When Nagi began whistling in a suspiciously innocent manner, Negi banged his fist on the table. "I knew it!" He shot up and glared at his father. "Was this your idea?!"

"No way, but I thought it should've been obvious to you from like, day one," Nagi replied, coolly returning Negi's frustrated stare. He knew too many older adults kept secrets from him, and Nagi was no exception. But his kid definitely didn't need it right now, and he certainly wasn't lying. But he needed to get to the bottom of this. "But cool your jets about that. If Konoka's cheating on you, tell me why you can't up and leave the relationship then."

Negi sighed. "If it were that easy, I would have been gone right then and there... but even if it were just an affair, I doubt I could leave. When I accused her of just forging her relationship with me just so she could avoid conflict, she gets in my face and gives me one of the most intense stares I have ever seen. Then she drops the bombshell: She's in love with both me AND Setsuna. And she wants Setsuna in the relationship."

Smirk still wide, Nagi crowed, "I fail to see an issue here."

"Ugh, figures," Negi banged his head on the table. "I should have called Kotarou instead." He looked at his father in earnest. "Most straight males would celebrate having two girls... I can't. Listen, I guess I'm not that close to Setsuna anymore, but Konoka apparently never even thought about abandoning her. I didn't—and still don't—want to leave Setsuna by the wayside either, but... argh, does she know what she's getting into if she commits to this?! The Kansai and Kantou associations will have her head! All those girls I taught will have my head! Why didn't she think of this before we got married?! Does Setsuna's opinion even matter about this?!"

"Wait wait... So lemme get this straight," Nagi raised an eyebrow. "Your wife is cheating on you with another woman, and she wants you to accept the both of them. You think this is a bad idea not because of the whole sharing thing but because of politics?!" He smacked Negi's forehead with a flick of his finger. "My idiocy is finally rubbing off on you."

"Argghh!" Negi flinched and rubbed the resulting welt on his head. "It's more than that! I really don't understand... my feelings on the matter. That's why I'd thought I'd talk to you... so I can sort them out."

"Hmph, it's not really gonna help if you stay indecisive," Nagi said. "You should have more of my idiocy. Screw politics and make both of them happy!" He pumped his fist shaking with shounen manliness despite being over forty. Hey, if Rakan could get away with it, so could he!

"Argh, you're not getting it..." Negi moaned. "I'm probably powerful enough to deal with whatever fallout from this kind of relationship comes my way, but..."

Nagi suddenly changed his demeanor. "In all seriousness, the best thing for you to do is to figure out where you stand with Setsuna. You won't be certain, otherwise."

Negi almost flinched. He wasn't sure when, if ever, his dad showed perceptiveness. "...that makes too much sense! How did you come up with that?!"

Nagi pulled a paper fan out of nowhere and smacked his son with it. "Excuse me? Just because I'm an idiot 99 percent of the time doesn't mean I'm an idiot 100 percent of the time! But seriously. Negi, you've shown a lot of love for Konoka. There's no question there. Your question is with Setsuna. Figure that out, and the solution's obvious."

Negi stopped for a moment. It really did make perfect sense. He could deal with the ramifications if he committed to Konoka's wish later.

He rose. "Thank you, father."

Nagi gave a weak salute. "No problem."

Before Negi ran off though, one last thought occurred to him. Konoka... can I really heed your wish? He waved goodbye to his father before running off towards the station.

Mighty convenient that he had to pick up Setsuna today.

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(As always, concrit/reviews appreciated. I challenge you readers to run with this theme, too. Shake it up!)