The First Year
It was supposed to be a mission like any other, find the target and eliminate them. It was a simple and straightforward job. Kirei Kotomine couldn't help but find it morbidly ironic that it ended up being nothing of the sort. He let out a pained breath, the loss of blood from his wounds were going to render him unconscious soon enough.
His fellow Executors weren't too far off from him in that regard.
Most of the team that he had been assigned to for the mission were already dead or in the process of dying. Kirei could see a couple of the bodies of his comrades scattered across the now bloodied room. The briefing that they had been given on the target could not have been more wrong. The heretic they were supposed to be hunting was a lot more dangerous than a mere rogue magus should've been.
Had it all been a set-up? Perhaps politics had been at play? The higher-ups in the church always did love to play their little chess games with one another. Or perhaps it truly had been an honest mistake, botched missions were rare, but not unheard of. Perhaps their dispatcher had simply given out the wrong information?
Kirei couldn't help but wonder at the thought. What kind of face would that person make when they realized that their mistake had been responsible for sending an entire group of their very own comrades to their graves? Would they be uncaring? Or would they be completely and utterly consumed by guilt?
What kind of face would a person like that make?
What kind of suffering would he see?
That was a train of thought that needed to end right then and there. He would not spend his last moments dwelling on such sinful thoughts. It was unbecoming for a member of the church to harbor such thoughts. At the very least, he would face death with some dignity.
Although, if this truly was how he was supposed to meet his end, he couldn't help but be disappointed.
Kirei Kotomine never did manage to find that elusive feeling of fulfillment. Many had said that he was a young man with a bright future. From his earliest memories as a child, great praise had always been heaped upon him. Many had considered him to be one of the rising stars among his peers in the Eighth Sacrament. And then, on his tenth birthday, after many years of hard work, of blood, sweat, and tears, he had been granted the prestigious title as one of the Church's Executors.
And yet, he found no satisfaction, no joy in this accomplishment.
More and more memories from his brief ten years of life continued to resurface and play through his head like a broken record. Kirei had read memoirs from people that had described how their life had flashed before their eyes during a near death experience. Perhaps he was going through something similar, although all he could feel as he saw his past exploits replayed again was bitter disappointment.
Not once had he found any form of the fulfillment that he had been searching for.
Kirei watched as the last of his brethren, Simon, one of the elder Executors of the group continue to struggle in vain. From the way that the battle was going, Kirei knew that Simon didn't have a chance, and yet, he couldn't help but watch on in morbid fascination. As the last of Simon's Black Keys failed to hit their mark, Kirei could see the desperation and despair building in his fellow executor's eyes.
He should have felt anger, rage, or perhaps even sadness.
And yet, he found himself experiencing none of those emotions
Instead, what he felt was something new, something so foreign that he didn't think that he had ever felt anything even remotely similar in his entire life. It almost felt… Good, and that scared him. Kirei found that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't tear his eyes away from the sight of Simon's despair.
Why could he not stop watching?
Why could he not turn away?
His vision began to blur, the blood loss seemed to have finally caught up with him. Darkness began to creep into his sight as objects soon began to mesh together into unrecognizable blobs of color. As his consciousness finally began to fade, Kirei couldn't help but be thankful for his injuries.
He didn't think that he would have been able to look away otherwise.
The snow was starting to come down quite hard. Winters in Patch always did get much too cold for her tastes. To the surprise of nobody, Summer Rose was someone that preferred the seasons when the sun was out for most of the day, instead of being hidden by dark, gloomy-looking clouds. Just like her namesake, she always did have an affinity for the warmer weather, more so than the cooler climates.
As she trudged along through the trees and snow, she was starting to wish that she had simply stayed at an inn for the night instead of trying to soldier through the dreary weather. But then the thought of not being able to see her two little angels for even a day longer kept her going strong. Truly, the life of a huntress did not mesh well with that of a mother of two.
With a long sigh, she pulled her hood deeper over her head and continued walking.
Summer had considered retiring, maybe get a job as a teacher like her husband instead of remaining as an active duty huntress, truly, she did. But she just couldn't give it up, it had always been her dream to be a hero, to help people in their time of need. She was probably a bad parent in that regard, putting her selfish little desire over spending more time with her family.
Perhaps in another year or so, she would consider retirement again. Maybe work at Signal like her husband and Qrow did, or maybe she could just stay at home and take care of the kids. As Summer continued to contemplate on her future, a strange sight caught the corner of her eye. In what should have been a sea of white snow with the occasional patch of green, there was a small black figure lying in the snow.
Summer's eyes narrowed as she tried to get a better view through the snow.
The figure wasn't in the direction that she was headed, but her curiosity got the better of her. As she made her way over towards the figure, she soon came to the horrible realization that the figure wasn't an object at all, but it was a person instead. And not only that, but it was a child that looked perhaps only a few years older than her very own children.
Her throat choked up a little bit at the sight.
The young boy that looked like he could have been no older than twelve was almost half buried in the snow. His hazel brown hair was terribly disheveled and to Summer's growing horror, there were traces of frozen blood on his face. Quickly tossing her equipment to the side, she began to drag the young boy out of the snow. The dark robes that the boy was wearing had a nasty gash cut across the middle of his chest, and she could see that the skin around the wound had already started turning blue from the cold.
Summer had some medical training, but a wound like that was beyond her.
Quickly, she checked his pulse, and couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief. The boy was still alive. She could rush him back home and try to get a doctor, but she wasn't sure if the boy was even going to last that long. Time was running out and she needed to figure out something, fast. As she bit her lower lip in frustration, a desperate plan had begun to form in her head.
She wasn't sure if it was going to work, but it was her best shot at saving him.
Reaching her hand towards the boy once again, she began to try feeling for his Aura. When she found that the boy had yet to have his Aura unlocked, she closed her eyes and recited the lines for the very same ritual that had been used to help her in the distant past.
For it is in passing that we achieve immortality. Through this, we become a paragon of virtue and glory to rise above all. Infinite in distance and unbound by death, I release your soul, and by my shoulder, protect thee.
The drain on her Aura was a little rough, but it was a small price to pay for potentially saving someone's life. As some of the color in the boy's skin began to return, Summer let out a breath that she hadn't realized she had been holding in. Her plan had worked, and the boy's Aura was doing the best job it could do to prevent his body from dying. It wasn't going to be enough for him to recover completely, but it would do for now, at least until she could get him to a real doctor. She strapped her equipment onto her back and reached down for the boy, picking him up as gently as she could.
There was nothing that was going to be stopping her from making it back home now, snowstorm be damned.
Not when there was someone that needed her help.
As he watched his wife pace around the room back and forth, Taiyang still wasn't quite sure just what exactly had transpired in the last hour.
It had been late at night when Summer made it back home, late enough that he had already put the kids to bed. To be honest, when he opened the door, he had been expecting a hug, or a kiss even, not his wife rushing past him with some strange kid in her arms, yelling at him to call their local doctor over all the while. Seeing the panic on his wife's face at the time, he had wisely decided to not ask any questions and quickly rummaged through the binder in which they kept important scroll numbers and called Dr. Cyan.
Summer had put the kid in the guest room and the doctor had arrived not too long after.
It was all so chaotic that Yang had woken up and was now sitting on the couch next to him as they continued to watch Summer pace back and forth in front of the guest room. Taiyang didn't even bothered with the questions yet, because once Summer got into one of those moods, she never felt like speaking to anyone. What he had learned over the years of being her teammate and her husband, was that it was best to simply wait until after she calmed down.
"Hey dad?" Yang managed to ask, as she stifled a yawn. "What's going on?"
"Your mother found someone that was hurt real bad," He replied, "That's why Dr. Cyan is here to make sure that he's alright."
As the hours passed by, Yang soon fell asleep on his shoulder. Taiyang couldn't help but ruffle his eldest daughter's hair a little bit before he carried her back to bed. When he came back to the living room, he saw that Dr. Cyan had finally stepped out from the guest room and was already speaking with his wife. He didn't get to catch the entire conversation, but he managed to piece together enough of it to know that the kid had survived and was going to be alright, more or less.
After giving him the bill, the doctor left soon after.
Taiyang began to make some tea in the meantime, his wife looked like she could use something to drink, and she always did enjoy his tea. After a brief moment, he brought over a fresh cup of green tea and took a seat at their kitchen table next to his wife. Summer simply looked tired more than anything.
"Thanks Tai." Summer mumbled as she put her hands around the cup, feeling its warmth.
"Yeah, don't mention it." He simply replied, before taking a sip from his own cup. "So, you want to fill me in on the story about our new guest now?"
Summer only sighed as she stared into her cup.
"I found him outside, buried in the snow." Her voice cracked a little. "Someone just left him there, half-dead in the snow Tai! He's just a boy…"
Taiyang held his hand over his wife's and gave it a light squeeze. Summer always did have a heart of gold. She wanted to help everyone, and seeing people hurt always did devastate her in more ways than one. Some would call her a bleeding heart, but he loved her for it, along with her kindness and her warmth.
Summer was a lot different when compared to Raven in that regard.
"It's just not right Tai… Someone tried to kill him." Summer eventually murmured. "How could anyone do that to a child?"
Taiyang didn't answer because he didn't know himself. He knew that the world was a messed up place, but still… From what he had overheard about the kid's injuries, some people just went too far and crossed a line that shouldn't have been crossed. If someone had done that to Yang or Ruby…
He wasn't sure if he could stop himself from murdering someone in cold blood.
"So, what did the doctor say?" He asked, changing the subject.
"He said that the worst of it was over." Summer simply replied, "That the boy should wake up in a couple of days, at the most."
Taiyang gave his wife a reassuring smile.
"Hey, you did all you could, alright?" He wrapped his arm over her shoulders. "I'm sure that he'll be just fine."
"But it's not enough Tai…"
It's never enough.
The unspoken words clung to his throat. For Summer, it was never enough. She wanted to save everyone, to make sure that nobody ever had to get hurt again. Summer had always wanted to be a hero, just like the ones in the old stories that every parent used to tell their child. Summer wasn't a fool, she knew that it was impossible to save everyone, but that never stopped her from trying.
Taiyang just held his wife's shoulder tighter.
It was late into the night when Qrow knocked on the door, even later than when Summer had done the very same thing, only with a kid in her arms.
"Yo, Tai." Qrow greeted, slurring his words. "How's the stray doing?"
Taiyang scrunched his nose at the smell of liquor oozing out of his friend's breath. Ever since Qrow had started working with Ozpin, his old teammate had taken to drinking like a madman. He wasn't sure if it was because of the work, or something else entirely.
"He's not a cat Qrow." Taiyang replied as he took a seat with his old friend. "And no, he still hasn't woken up yet."
Qrow simply took another long drink from his flask.
"Yeah, you're right. Cats don't carry around a bunch sharp over-sized daggers. But then again, neither do most brats."
The weapons that they found on the boy did give Taiyang some cause for concern. They were sharp, dangerous looking things that seemed like they were designed more for throwing than for fighting in close combat with. What was a kid like him doing carrying around something as dangerous as that? He had made sure to keep them away from his own children, Ruby especially since she seemed to have developed an interest in sharp pointy objects as of late.
"So, were you able to find out anything about him?" Taiyang asked.
"Not a clue." Qrow replied with a shrug. "Whoever the brat is, he's not from around here, that's something I could tell you."
Taiyang rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, thanks Captain Obvious, I think I got that part figured out on my own."
"Hey, I said I'd help. Never did say I was going to solve the little case you got going on there for you, mister ace detective." Qrow quipped back. "So, the kids and Summer asleep yet?"
"Yeah, she tucked them in and dozed off a little while ago."
"Damn, guess I'll have to wait until the morning to see them then." Qrow said as he leaned back against the couch. "You try to read through that little black book that brat had on him yet?"
Taiyang just shook his head.
"All the blood that got soaked into the pages made it pretty much unreadable."
"Well, alright then. So no wallet, no form of ID at all, no scroll, and the one thing that we did have on him is unreadable." Qrow summarized with a smirk. "I'd like to see how you solve this case then, detective."
"Isn't that why I called you here? You're the one that Ozpin has on his payroll for this type of stuff."
"You're forgetting a couple of important things here Tai." Qrow said as he held up two fingers. "For one, you don't have me on your payroll. And two, Oz actually gives me something to work with. Most of the time. You? You haven't even given me a name here man. I'm good but I'm not a miracle worker Tai."
"What, all the freeloading I've been letting you do around here doesn't count as having you on my payroll?"
Qrow just chuckled.
"Hey, I can't help it if the kids just love seeing their uncle Qrow so much. I guess that I'm just a lot cooler than you are Tai."
Taiyang rolled his eyes at that.
"Yeah yeah, whatever. I'm going to sleep, don't drink yourself to death now Qrow."
Qrow simply replied by taking another chug from his flask.
"Can't think of a better way to go out, to be honest."
Ever so slowly, his eyes flickered open.
Kirei Kotomine had been half-expecting to see the Lord himself, along with the gates of Heaven awaiting him in the afterlife. What he saw instead, was a small, cozy little room. The window was slightly open as the light of an early dawn shined in from the outside. A glass vase full of fresh flowers stood on the table next to his bed.
The warm sheets that were neatly wrapped around his chest made it difficult to move.
With a little bit of a struggle, Kirei tumbled out of the bed. Pain laced throughout his body, but he ignored it and stood up in spite of the discomfort. He could see that someone had changed him out of his Executor robes in favor of a simple white shirt and black slacks. Bandages were wrapped around his chest, covering over the wounds that he had suffered during his battle with the heretic.
He tested out his limbs, starting with small, simple movements.
They were stiff from disuse, but they were at the very least, all still attached to his body without too much worse for wear. His Black Keys were nowhere to be found, but he could spot the small cross necklace that his father had given him lying on the table by his bedside. Kirei picked it up and wore it over his neck before he made his way over towards the door.
With a soft twist on the doorknob, he quietly pulled the door open and stepped outside.
There was a soft sizzling sound that could be heard, and an aroma that smelled oddly similar to that of scrambled eggs and bacon. A man could be seen sleeping on a couch, a large broadsword was lying next to him, standing upright next to a table. The man's hair was pitch black, and an empty flask that reeked of alcohol hung off his fingertips. Seeing that the man wasn't going to be a threat, Kirei quietly followed the direction that his nose was currently leading him, a soft grumble emerging from his stomach all the while.
A woman with a pink apron around her waist seemed to be cooking breakfast.
"Morning Qrow." The woman greeted as she reached for a plate from the cabinet. "I'm almost done with breakfast. You like your eggs-"
The woman dropped the plate she was holding as her eyes went wide.
From what Kirei could see, she wasn't very tall, and her hair was a reddish-black color. Although what really stood out to him were those silver eyes that she possessed. As their eyes met, Kirei felt his limbs tense up, ready to spring into action if necessary. A habit that had been drilled into him from his training as an Executor.
The last thing he had been expecting however, was for the woman to start tearing up.
"Y-you're awake…" She breathed out, a genuinely happy smile appearing on her face. "Thank goodness."
Kirei Kotomine simply stared.
He didn't think that anyone, aside from his father, had ever looked at him with such a genuine expression of happiness on their face before. The very first thought that came to his mind was what it would take for a face like that to be wracked with agony.
He responding by clenching his fists and biting down on his tongue hard, crushing the thought away with a sudden explosion of pain.
Author's Notes- Don't mind me, just trying to shake off the rust with something new. We've all seen stories with Shirou getting zapped into some new universe, but what about with everybody's favorite fake-priest? Rejoice, my readers, for your wish has been granted!
... Seriously, I think I have a problem.