"You dolt! Why did you have to get in trouble again!?" Weiss yelled at Shirou, throwing light punches at him as she vented her frustrations. "Now because you're grounded, I have to go to the stupid school event all by myself!"
"Hey now, you won't be alone. Klein said he would be going with you. And once you get there you will met up with Winter." Shirou said, trying to calm her down. Though in all honesty, he didn't feel to comfortable allowing his sister out of his sight either.
It had been one of those pleasant surprises, having a few family members that he genuinely cared for. Weiss and Winter acted so much like more childish and more easily flustered copies of Rin and Saber, that it was actually kind of adorable. It made them feel more like they had always been siblings even though he had lived a thousand lifetimes before they had ever come together.
Archer couldn't really remember his life, or lives, from before he became a Counter Guardian very well. He remembered that he had had a little/older sister by adoption, but in nearly every timeline she died a horrific death, either during or after the Grail War. None of the iterations of Shirou who would eventually become a part of the Counter Guardian's existence had spent more than a year with the girl. And even then, they had prioritized being a hero over being a brother, neglecting the sickly sister who couldn't be saved in the pursuit of saving thousands of others. The memories of those selfishly selfless acts stung the Count Guardian's heart, no matter how old and forgotten the wound.
Shirou Emiya had grown up alone, with only Taiga and Sakura as a sort of family. And even those two he had kept distant from, only focusing on his dumb dream. Illya was pushed aside in order to save those who actually could be saved. Rin would eventually become disgusted with him as he made more and more compromises with reality, picking and choosing who would live and who would die. Nearly every person he had ever met, Archer had pushed them aside, and none of the strangers he had worked so hard to save had ever thanked him for his many sacrifices. The only memories that had never been tainted were those of Saber, and that was probably only become she had not remained with him long enough to grow to hate him, considering how much she couldn't stand his father's underhanded and single-minded nature. Archer had been just as bad, if not worse.
But now, without the weight of his inherited dream pressing down on him, Shirou found himself cherishing his new family. Well, some of them.
His new 'father' was the one of the kinds of men who Shirou despised, believing that prestige and wealth were somehow more important than anything else. He was only a few rungs down from Gilgamesh in the irredeemable asshole department. How many millions of men just like him had the Counter Guardian been made to eliminate over the years because of how their stupid greed and apathy threatened the timelines they lived in? Shirou could only tolerate his existence because Remnant was fucked anyways as far as Alaya was concerned, which meant that Shirou wasn't compelled to get involved.
This was not a life where he would live for others. He wanted to have a least one set of memories where he had been allowed to be selfish. Where he had accepted happiness rather than turning it way, saying he didn't deserve it. Where he had tried to make honest connection with the people around him and didn't push loved ones aside for the sake of strangers. Where he hadn't been betrayed by his worthless ideals, which left him to suffer in the reality he had tried so hard to deny.
However, in order to protect his siblings from his father, Shirou had to allow himself to take the man's ire. Jacques Schnee was not a kind man in any respect, he cared about nothing other than his status and reputation and would push around and punish his own wife and children for even thinking of stepping out of line. So in order to make sure that he didn't have enough hours in the day to worry about getting on Weiss or Winter's cases, Shirou made himself a target.
Though in all honesty, harassing and publicly embarrassing the man was its own reward. If it wasn't for the shame that it would bring him to disown a nine-year-old child, and the fact that his wife would never allow it, Jacques would have probably done it already.
Sadly, his shenanigans had some consequences. One of which was that he was occasionally confined to his room for extended periods of time after Jacques hit him a few times too hard and left visible bruises. Something that was difficult with how Shirou dark skin made most bruises impossible to notice. Not that Shirou really cared about that. Pain meant little to him, and he could have boosted his healing if he had really wanted to. As it turned out, the Aura of this world was quite good for healing one's self on the fly and Shirou had been quick to unlock his Aura. It was only because their father was being very insistent that Wiess go to some kind of event at Atlas Academy and that Shirou not go that problems arose.
"But I want to have you with me. Klein is nice, but I don't want to be alone when everyone is staring." Wiess pouted, she had stopped hitting him and was just grabbing onto Shirou's shirt.
Shirou sighed. It was another way that he sheltered his sister, by standing in front of her and drawing the eyes of others so that she didn't need to feel judged as heavily. Perhaps he had allowed her to depend on him a little too much. Still, what's done is done. "Well, I was going to save this to be a gift later on during our birthday, but I suppose I can give it to you now."
"A gift?" Weiss asked, letting go of Shirou's shirt. The boy went to one of the dressers in his room and brought out a necklace with a large blue stone with small specks of gold coloring in it, that had a single rune carved into its face.
"Here. For you." He said, handing it over to his sister.
Wiess looked down at the necklace in her hand. It was admittedly not as pretty as most of the things she owned, though she wouldn't say that in front of her brother, lest he start teasing her about it. However, one thing did bother her. "Shirou, the 'W' is upside-down." She said as she held up the necklace for Shirou to see.
"That's because it isn't a 'W', it's an ehwaz rune." Shirou corrected her with a slight smile.
"Oh… and what does that mean?" Wiess said, looking at the necklace more closely.
"Depends the shape and context of the rune. It directly translates to meaning horse, and normally it refers to the connection between the body and spirit, but when presented as part of a gift is symbolizes a promise." Shirou said. "A promise that no matter what happens, so long as you believe in me, that I will always be there for you."
Wiess's eyes widened and a small blush crossed her face. "Um… why does that sound like… um… like…"
"Corny? It's a magic talisman, of course it sounds corny." Shirou chuckled. Of course it was a very real magic talisman, which would really alert him if his sister was in danger, but that would probably be harder to explain to Weiss than saying it was a sort of good luck charm.
"Right, corny…" Weiss said as she frowned at the item. "Are you sure someone wasn't pulling your leg trying to get you to buy a second-rate piece of jewelry?"
"Somehow I doubt that, since I made it myself." Shirou said.
Weiss blinked in surprise. "You made this yourself?"
"Of course I did. It wouldn't work if someone other than the person the talesman is coming from made it. It is magic after all." Shirou said with a cheeky grin.
"You made this… yourself." Weiss said again, holding the necklace a little more carefully. "Thank you Shirou. But how did you make it anyways?"
"Well, do you remember when father was having the factory refitted and was throwing out all that old equipment, and how he said that I could keep anything I could repair just so that I would stay out of the way for the week?" Shirou said with a smile. "I managed to patch up a few of the jewel grinders that they use to shape dust crystals. Honestly, the equipment was overkill for the job I was doing. Luckily Lapis is pretty cheap, so it didn't matter that I kept screwing up. The one you have there was my twelfth attempt."
"And when did you do this?" Weiss asked with a raised eyebrow. "I don't recall seeing you doing this kind of thing."
"I would slip away whenever you were going to your dance lessons." Shirou admitted, as if it was no big deal. "I was trying to keep it a secret. Oh, I suppose I forgot to say surprise." The cheeky grin returned to the boy's face as he couldn't resist the chance to tease his sister. "But since you don't want it, I suppose I could just give it to Winter instead."
"I didn't say I didn't want it." Weiss said sharply, holding the necklace close to her and shielding it from him. She scowled as he began to laugh at her.
Weiss slipped the necklace on and tucked it way underneath her blouse, since she still insisted it didn't really go with her outfit as it was too dark a blue. Not that it mattered, wasn't like the rune was solar powered anyways.
After she had left with one of the family's many butlers, Shirou returned to his room, pulled out an embroidery kit and turned on the TV, half watching some action movie while his hands continued taking part in yet another one of his new-found hobbies.
He didn't have a clue what Zelretch thought he would do, but if the old vampire believed he was going to work himself to death trying to find a way to save a doomed world out of some kind of quest for redemption, Archer would only have one question to ask, 'What exactly do I need redemption for?' While Shirou's younger self was an idiot, he was right about one thing. Archer hadn't done anything he needed to be redeemed of. Even if his motivation had been fake, stolen from his father, he had done everything he could in order to save lives, going far beyond what anyone could have reasonably asked of him to the point where he sacrificed his very soul, and his only reward was his own personal hell.
Archer had no reason at all to seek out redemption. Nor did he any longer believe in his father's dream of being an ally of justice. He might not have hated it the way he had while Alaya was making a mockery of it, but he wasn't going to waste a second life following a dream that wasn't even really his. He would not go out of his way to try to become a hero.
Which was why he needed to be ready for when fate decided to take the option out of his hands. Alaya or no Alaya, sooner or later, the world would just take a shit on him, and when that happened, he wouldn't be caught with his pants around his ankles.
He was carefully stitched each and every rune and tested them to make sure that metallic threads would carry his prana properly. His growing body was a bitch, as it required him to frequently get new clothes and then he would have to discretely sew defensive runes into them in such a way as to not draw too much attention to them. While Archer didn't think that anyone in this world knew what the Runes meant, showing off a complex set of connected rune patterns would certainly raise eyebrows of anyone who knew what they were about.
The necklace was a single rune on it was easy to overlook or brush off as a coincidence. The only reason why it would be as effective as it was is because the ehwaz rune was governed by the twin gods. While Shirou might have been an old soul, his current incarnation was still Wiess's twin brother and thus the single simple rune would create a strong bond between them. It would be a twin telepathy of sorts, boarding the kind of connection between Master and Servant created by the Command Seals. Twins of opposite genders were thought to have an even stronger connection, as the male and female halves were said to complete each other.
At will, Shirou could use the Rune to find his sister, or even see through her eyes and hear through her ears. If Weiss understood how to use it, she could eventually turn it on him as well. Because of this, he would always know where she was, should she be in trouble.
He had no idea how soon that little rune would come in handy.
Weiss shifted about in her seat on the transport vessel that would take them towards the ceremonial grounds of Atlas. Klein had long since fallen asleep, his drowsy personality taking over as the hum of the engines lolled him away, leaving Weiss to her own thoughts.
Her hand went up to where the necklace her brother had given her was underneath her shirt. The stone felt surprisingly warm against her skin, unlike many other pieces she had warn in the past.
Weiss never really understood her brother. He was smart, really smart, most of the things that Weiss knew and understood came from Shirou helping her learn them, but he always treated everything that most people would consider as having value to be pointless. It was perhaps the thing that frustrated their father the most. While Shirou was talented beyond what most people could hope for in an heir, Shirou didn't care about the company or the family name at all. Their father wanted to brag about how talented his children were, but couldn't because every time Shirou met someone, he almost immediately insulted them, their work, and likely their entire system of beliefs. Bad first impression doesn't even begin to describe it.
Despite all his talents, Shirou didn't have any beliefs of his own. He had no goals or dreams that he wanted to pursue, and he laughed at most of the dreams of other people. Still, Weiss hoped that one day he would come around and help her with her own goal, if only just for her and not because he believed in it himself.
Weiss wasn't a stupid girl. She saw the news, so she knew how the world viewed her family. The real world that is, not that elitist group of thick-headed sheep that their father catered to. The Schnees were viewed with suspicion and resentment by the majority of people.
Once upon a time, the Schnee Dust Company was a name to be proud of. Everyone had known them for their hard work, fair practices, and the opportunities they provided for the impoverished. If someone was willing to work hard then they could really improve their family's situation by working for the SDC.
That all changed with their grandfather. Ethics went out the window in pursuit of even higher profits. The term slavery wouldn't even begin to describe the conditions some of the workers had to face. Masters at least had some stack in the lives of their slaves.
Trapped on the islands where the mining was taking place by no greater force than the fact that they were born there and didn't have the money to move, the unsafe practices polluted the water supplies and ruined local crops and wildlife. Prices for food would sky rocket and people would be forced to work longer and longer hours just to make ends meet. With everyone so desperate, her grandfather could lowered wages even further, since people would have to take the jobs anyways. No one had the money to pay for medicine when people inevitably became sick from overwork and poor conditions, and when they did, they would be tossed aside and replaced by others. The people hurt the most, the lower class whose family were only just stepping out from the prisons of oppression: the Faunus.
Weiss didn't know if her grandfather really had been a racist or not. It was equally likely that he just didn't care about anyone at all and the fact that the greatest number of victims were Faunus was just because of overlapping demographics. The man was a psychopath.
It took a long time for the government to react, as Atlas wasn't exactly known for its humanitarian mind set. He kept making deals with them behind closed doors, buying Atlas's permission to continue his work camps. Even after laws did start getting put into place, he would find his ways around them, or just ignore them all together.
Under his influence, the Schnees became one of the wealthiest families in the world, but their name had been dragged through the mud. Now the only people they were popular with were the paranoid Xenophobes, the power-hungry Elitists, and the ever-apathetic Super Ultra Capitalists, the ones who thought that sentient life was just another raw resource to be chucked into factories to make them work and thought that the abolition of slavery was just an inconvenience in their annual budget meetings. Weiss wasn't sure which group was the most despicable. Each time she decided on one of them, the other two seemed to try to put forward a good argument for why they were the lowest of the low. The only thing that anyone could possibly say in their defense is that at least they aren't terrorists like the White Fang. Not that ignoring the value of human life is that much better than sacrificing it to the Gods of Hypocrisy… She might have been listening to Shirou too much.
Sometimes Weiss felt ashamed that she played along the way she did. She wished that she could be more like Shirou and just called them all out and spit at them whenever they came up to her with fake smiles. That she could do it and then just take her lumps for doing so with a smile. She wished that she was so brave, and she swore that someday she would be.
Their grandfather had been a monster, and as Shirou was always too quick to remind Weiss, their father wasn't much better, choosing to continue his father-in-law's legacy of merely hiding the problems and retaining power rather than fixing things.
She would change that. Someday, she would find a way to reverse the damage done to her family's name. She didn't care how much profits might suffer, or what kinds of social clubs they were shunned from, so long as people stopped being treated like a resource rather than people.
She had no idea how she would accomplish this, but she would come up with a plan eventually, and when she did, she would make sure that everyone could be happy, even if Shirou said it was impossible. And she would force him to help her do it. Then maybe he would have to admit that he had the capacity to do good as well, rather than just insisting that nothing matters.
Klein started to yawn slightly, shifting about in his seat. His eyes slowly opened to reveal the light purple pupils that signaled that his more sleepy personality was till in control. One of his hands came up to rub at his balding head as he tries to shake himself awake. "Oops. It seems like… I went to sleep. Sorry Snowflake. I hope you didn't feel too lonely." His voice was so silly when he was like this that Weiss couldn't help but to stifle a giggle, even though she was in a first-class section of the flight, surrounded by her peers… well, her father's peers.
"It's fine Klein. I know flying always puts you to sleep." Weiss told the man.
"Yes, which is why I always wish that they had more cushy seats. How long was I… oh dear?" Klein said as he looked down at his pocket watch. His eyes shifted, changing colors from purple to light brown as his expression quickly grew focused, even his voice changed ever so slightly. "We should have already landed by…"
Weiss was startled as the old butler pushed past her to the window and down towards the ocean of tre… no, the actual ocean. Why where they over the ocean? It should have been a domestic flight.
Klein's quickly undid Weiss seatbelt and pulled her up out of her seat. "Don't worry Snowflake, we'll be alright. Just follow me quietly, alright?" Klein said in a hushed voice as he started to pull towards the center of the ship.
"What's wrong Klein?" Weiss asked the old man as he stopped over the cargo-hold trapdoor and quickly pulled the hatch open. This got the attention of everyone around them, and people started to voice confusion.
"No time to explain. I just need you to trust me." Klein said as he picked her up and descended down the hole, closing it behind him. Klein pulled out his scroll and quickly dialed an emergency contact number. "It's jammed… oh butternuts." Klein said as he put the scroll away.
"Klein… have… has the ship been hijacked?" Weiss asked. Klein looked down at her and forced himself to smile.
"Don't worry Snowflake. I promise you that I will get you out of here safely." Klein said with a warm smile before he started to look around the cargo bay. "They have to have something useful down here." He started to rummage around until he found an inflatable raft. With a sigh of relief he dragged the raft over to the load bay door and triggered the mechanism to cause it to start inflating.
By this time, sounds of panic were starting to come from above. The hijackers must have made their presence known to the passengers. Weiss jumped at the sound of gunfire.
"Alright Snowflake, once the raft is fully inflated, we are going to jump out of the plane…" Klein said.
"Jump!" Weiss squeaked. "But we're so high up!"
"Shush… It's alright. The raft is nice and bouncy and will absorb most of the fall, and I can protect us with my aura." Klein said, looking at Weiss with his kind brown eyes. "I need you to trust me."
Weiss hesitated for a moment before nodded her head. "I tr… trust you."
"Alright, its almost ready now." Klein said with a sharp nod towards the rapidly inflating raft.
Weiss screamed as the gun shot echoed in the confined space. "No!" Klein shouted as the raft had burst when the bullet hit it.
"How like a Schnee to abandon ship and save themselves." A young man said as he lowered himself into storage area with them, a gun in hand. He had a spotted leopard's tail swing behind him and the upper half of his face was covered by a white plaster mask, like that of a Grimm.
The White Fang.
Seeing the gun pointed at them, Klein's eyes widened, and he began to tremble. "You… You…" The butler stammered, his voice getting deeper with each syllable. His eyes flickered back and forth between light brown and a vivid red. His more analytical mind, the personality he used most often in day-to-day life, was slipping away.
"Oh, did I scare the old man?" The young Faunus said with a wide smirk on his face. "How about you step aside and leave the little Schnee with me."
"You… Little brat!" Klein roared. 'Grumpy' was in control now, and boy was Klein ever grumpy. Grabbing a nearby suitcase, Klein flung it with his aura enhanced strength straight for the White Fang boy.
The Faunus was caught by surprise, not having anticipated that the older looking butler had been an Aura-user.
While all living things had aura, it was not always in equal quantities in all people, and not many unlocked it. It was actually risky to unlock one's aura by force. If the body didn't produce aura faster than the unlocked channels consumed it, then the body would quickly run out and the individual would die. Most people trained for years in order to prepare themselves for when they would unlock their auras. Others, like Klein, would unlock it themselves. Weiss didn't know how it happened for the older gentleman, as it would have been rude to ask. Normally it required immense physical or emotional trauma in order to unlock one's aura naturally. Though there were causes where the person in question just had such an abundant amount of natural aura that they unlocked it without any stimulus.
In Remnant, natural Aura-users were a one in tens of thousands occurrence. You were more likely to be struck by lightning than unlock your own aura. This was one of the reasons why Winter was so special.
The Faunus boy was knocked backwards as the suitcase hit him, but he still managed to raise up his gun and pulled the trigger. Three shots, each of them hitting the target as Klein barreled forward. The butler gave only small grunts to show that he even felt the small rounds as the metal bullets simply bounced off of his aura, causing little ripples of red light to appear on the man's skin where he was hit.
Klein tackled the terrorist, bringing him down to the ground as they wrestled against each other. The Faunus was a part of the White Fang, and as such had his aura unlocked, but he didn't have nearly as much as Klein had. Klein simply pressed down on the boy, using his superior strength. Klein hadn't ever been part of the military or a Huntsman, so he wasn't well versed in fighting, but you didn't need to know advanced moves when you should just grab your opponent's neck and squeeze.
The White Fang member was choking, his hands slapping at Klein's chest as the small man pressed him down. A rather scary look was in the butler's eyes, much more furious than what normally happened with the butler would bring out 'Grumpy' as just a way to imitate Weiss's father and make the kids laugh. "You will not hurt my little Snowflake." Klein growled, fully prepared too take the young man's head off with his bare hands the moment the boy's Aura was used up.
But before that reality could come to pass, there was a short popping sound, like that of a BB gun and a pair of metal darts on the end of long wires came down from the hole in the ceiling and embedded themselves into Klein's shoulder. The rampaging butler was taken by surprise as a sharp electric current came down through the wire and past his aura.
Klein gave a small, choking sound of his own as his body spasmed and he fell off of the Faunus boy. "Klein!" Weiss shouted in surprise. She wanted to run over to him, but before she could, a second White Fang member descended into the hold and turned to her, a wide grin on his face.
"No running away now, little Ms Schnee." The man spat as his comrade got off the floor. He was walking towards her, hand outstretched and she was paralyzed to the spot with fear.
One of her hands reached up to her chest, to where the necklace her brother had given to her was hidden underneath her shirt. If felt uncomfortably warm against her skin as she began to hyperventilate.
"What are you…?" The SDC's cargo ship pilot's question was cut short as Shirou slammed his hand into the man's stomach, knocking the air out of him. Then, with his eyes wide open, the boy stared straight into them, mumbling the spell needed to perform a simple hypnosis and knock the man out.
"Take the day off. You look like you could use the rest." Shirou mumbled as he dragged the man out of the ship before returning to the pilot's seat, flicking the switches needed to close the doors and start up the engine. "Don't worry Weiss, big brother is coming."
It's one of those things I always scratch my head about whenever people do a story about Archer and try to portray him as a man searching for redemption, I just don't get what he is trying to redeem himself for. Does he feel guilty about what he did in life? No, not really. About the things he did in serves to Alaya? He didn't have control over that. So what exactly is he seeking redemption for?
My Archer is not seeking redemption, nor is he seeking to continue to try to become a hero. He just wants a vacation and to get laid as many times as possible before heading back to his own personal hell.
Some people are asking to have Shirou's name changed to fit with the Schnee family naming convention. If I did so, then it would either be changed to Esche (German for an Ash Tree), or Silber (German for Silver). The only problem being that as nouns, both of those are consider feminine.
I may or may not change it, because for some people it is just simpler if I leave his name alone so that they can understand who I am talking about if they jump in after having not been reading it for two or three weeks from lack of updates. Some people still get confused when they jump into Bird of Prey and wonder where Shirou is because it keeps using the name Kuro.