AN: After reading crossovers of Fate/Danmachi. This is an interaction of Ais and Shirou that popped into my head, and I felt like letting it out on paper...or the internet, that said this is my first crack at a fanfictions, or just writing a story in general, so feel free to give tips and criticisms in the review section.


"Nuoooo!"

The Beast attacks. I Dodge. Left, right, left, over head, underhand swing and...

Cut!

Fuh, a head falls off of a decapitated body, followed soon after by the body. I reinforce my hand, and walk toward its corpse. Penetrating said body I claim the magic stone within, and watch as the body withers to ash.

I've seen this hundreds of times already, but the disintegration process sure is quick. Like puffs of smoke. Finishing my kill I make my way back towards Ais, who seems just to have finished her kills as well.

"Seems like you have things all under control." I say as Ais is similarly digging into the corpse for the magic stone like I was. Funny how a couple level difference can equal a reinforcement.

"Yes…" a short reply. With a yank she has the stone in her hand.

"Should we break for lunch?" I ask as she reaches for another corpse to dig into.

"Yes." a brisk reply once more, her eyes beaming. Her hand stops, and she quickly joins by my side.

The 37th floor. We've long since past the point, where it's recommended to team up. At the lower floors it isn't uncommon to see people fighting solo, a tad foolish, but those confident, if you can call it that, in their skills fight a herd of monsters solo if they can. But at this level doing so would be ridiculous or suicidal, still though we did it anyway. I was confident in my abilities, regardless of being a level 2 my magecraft and experience put me on a different 'level'. So when Ais asked me to come along I agreed. Then she explained that it would only be the two of us...needless to say I was a bit confused by the offer, and was going to refuse, but a small spark of emotion, something Ais doesn't reveal that easily, flashed in her eyes...so I made up my mind and agreed to go.

We sliced our way in. The lower floors were inconsequential, and we went through them quickly, mostly in silence. And so we continued down the dungeon killing and repeating. With a few words here and there, but overall mostly silence. But there's one thing that I made note of as we were going down the levels Ais was getting hit more often, then she would usually would, and every time we would take a break, she would turn towards as if ready to ask me something only to change her mind.

We eat in comfortable silence eating our yakitori. After letting Ais-san choose the meals for the last 3 expeditions I decided I would bring cooked meals for us instead. Anything is preferable to eating jagamarukun every day.

As soon as we're finish, I asked my question.

"What's on your mind?" I asked. Subtlety, wasn't my strong suit and if it's Ais-san I think she will forgive my brusqueness.

She jerks right up. She turns her face towards me revealing a slight frantic expression if only for a moment, before composing herself just as quickly.

She turns her head once more this time looking over the carnage we just made over the pile of bodies, that we have yet to collect and says,

"We're on the 37th floor..." she states out-loud.

…she pauses thinking of the right words to say. Sometime Ais-san overthinks things. Finally she stops her hesitation, and turns towards me with a resolute expression, and asks,

"How do I get stronger?" she queries.

I'm not sure what we were going to talk about, anything from recipes, to about my brand of magic, or even that boy named Bell. That particular question was something that I didn't expect.

"You've been thinking about this for a while haven't you?" More of a statement than a question.

"Yes." Regardless she answered anyway.

"Hmm...I don't really think about strength like that, but if I have to answer...i'd say to aim at something larger than yourself. If you only wish to get stronger, but don't have any goal to aim for, than your just a kid running in the dark. You are sure to get ahead, but where you go is anyone's guess."

"But if you aim at something larger than yourself, than that thing can help light your way. Rather than think of how I can get stronger, think of something you want to reach, something to aim for, and you'll get strong along the way." A golden sword pops to mind.

"What if I don't haves something like that?"

"Well than how about you aim at someone instead." I countered.

"Someone?" She Tilts her head. "Like the captain?"

"Well I was thinking someone more your age group, despite his appearance he's actually a middle aged veteran...Or maybe even your past self," A certain idea just spouting to mind.

"...Past self?"

"Yeah." I stand up, and point one of my blades at Ais.

"Ais-san let's duel. First blood."

"Why?" she asks. A sensible question given the situation, but still...

"Trust me,"

We walk into a mostly empty part of the field, get some appropriate distance from each other, and get ready to begin.

"Trace on," [Desperate] Ais's main blade appears in my hand.

"That's…"

I block out whatever she's going to say, and get in the ready position...Ais's ideal ready position, mirroring her swordsmanship. Getting over her surprise she does the same.

"Begin!" With a thrust I take the initiative.

"Clang." Intercepted as expected. Clang. Clang. Clang. Collision after collision both sides mirroring each other. Interception here, and their neither truly wanting to back up, regardless Ais is being slowly pushed back. I kick, trip, and jam the hilt on her several times, making bruises, but still no signs of blood. That isn't my objective anyway. I only get a few bruises in when...

"Pffff," One powerful thrust, the ground exploding underneath her as she launches herself, and the momentum sways back in her favor. Collision, after collision real vs fake continue once more, except our roles are reversed now. Until...a disarming.

I'm weaponless now, and my weapon, my traced version of her weapon, is sticking on the ground meters away from me towards my right. I right kick, than get taken down by my left, and I'm down. Desperate, the real desperate, grazing my right cheek. First blood has been shed. I lost.

Ais is on top of me. Kneeling, with Desperate, the true desperate grazing my cheek pinned on the ground below me. She looks slightly annoyed.

"Your magic is weird Shirou...Why did you do that?"

"haha..." A nervous chuckle escapes me. I scratch my left cheek in nervousness.

"Sorry, I just wanted to show you, your past self. There was a moment there, where I was winning. Lower level, lower stats, and fighting in a style not my own, but I was winning. Do you know why I was winning?" I power through not wanting an answer to my rhetorical question. "Because you were doubting yourself. Your only enemy is your own self-image. Your enemy is yourself. You doubt yourself, but I didn't win. You won. As long as you have the strength to defeat the weak you of yesterday, you can grow to become the strong person of tomorrow. Just repeat what we did here, but inside your own head...it also doesn't hurt to ask me for a spar if your self-image becomes a bit...blurry." I scratch my cheek.

"As long as you can defeat your own Image you can continue forward, and if even that image becomes blurry, than I'll be here as well to help you remember who you are, and who you want to be. So…" I reach up and pat her on her head.

"What were you thinking?" What are you thinking. I place my hand on top her head.

"I didn't want to lose. I don't want anyone to die. I don't want to lose anyone precious to me ever again. I want to defeat my weak self that couldn't save anyone. I want to protect those next to me." She says, a solemn expression appearing on her face opposed to her usual one. So that's your internal worries.

"I see…" It seems Ais has finally told me her deeper most important feelings, she usually wouldn't say.

I slide my hand down slightly to place it on her cheek. Those are feelings I can sympathize with.

"I don't either." I say quietly. For a moment we just stare into each other's eyes, trying to find...I don't know...trying to find something.

"Ais-san, listen to me for a second." I make a quick tap at her thigh signaling it's time for us to get up. She stands up, and reaches her hand down to help me stand, I take it and stand up, and signal her to a rock to continue this talk in a seated position. I look towards her, her earlier annoyed expression is back to her regular cool self. This will be the first time I've given anyone a clue about my past huh. I look ahead and tell my tale.

"Once upon a time their was a boy that lost everything in a fire, including his memories…including himself, but he did not forget that fire. He was saved by a passing mercenary, and that mercenary would raise him as his son. For a time life was quiet, but peaceful. Than on one night his father told him of how he wished to be a hero, but had to give up. He looked incredibly sad at that though. The boy responded to his wish, and promised him he will be one for him in his stead, just as his father was a hero to him.

After that many things would happened, and the boy would grow in several ways. Never forgetting about the fire, nor his hero, his father that had saved him. He bowed he would be a hero. A hero of justice. Someone that could make everyone happy. Someone that could save everyone. A truly childish dream, but that boy's feelings remain the same. He- I will become a hero.

Ais. I will be a hero, so it's fine if you don't grow as fast as you want. After all, you have a hero right beside you that will help you guide the way."

"Ais I, Shirou, vow to continue breaking my limits. I vow to save those before me that need protecting. I vow to protect those that don't know they need protecting. I will be a hero...So don't worry too much about how to get stronger, because I will be there along the way. To help you when you need help, as your friend. And save you, when you need saving, as your hero" I finish my little speech and turn towards her for a response. As a hero of justice how could I not save my friends. I would be a very poor hero if I couldn't do as much.

...

"...Ais, Please say something even I will get embarrassed if you don't say something,"She has been staring me with bulging eyes.

*chuckle* "Yeah. I'll look forward to it, ." she responds with a dazzling smile. That's the only time she's smiled since we've came here.

"VUOOOH," an impressively large roar sounds. The moment of tranquility is over. That's right, we're still in a dungeon.

It seems the beasts have finally worked-up the courage to show themselves, and decided to come at us with numbers.

"Well...it looks like we have to earn our keep. Ah- in order to make things a tad more interesting, I'll make you a proposal. If you can collect more magic stones than me, I'll make you any one dish you desire. Ok?"

She shakes her head frantically in a yes, her eyes absolutely beaming at that proposal.

"Alright, lets-"

"Hey Shirou," Ais says before...she hugs me from behind. I can feel a bit of my blood going to my face, from the sudden show of affection."Thanks. This was a good talk." she says under her breath before detaching.

"Let's see if you can keep up, Mr. Hero." Pffff. a dust cloud and a second later, the sword princess is already gone.

"...go...that's cheating," I say in a whisper, making my own dash to opposite end of the crowd.

And so the sword princess and the hero of justice dashed into a monster herd.