Glass shards tore through his school uniform as Shirou threw himself through the window. As he landed and rolled on the soil, fragments of glass sliced through his left hand while his other hand still clutched the Reinforced poster. It hurt, but it didn't hurt like a spear through his chest. He did not waste a moment reacting to the pain; he was already sprinting towards his toolshed. His newly-revived heart was racing, screaming, as fear and adrenaline pounded through his arteries in equal amounts.
"Hah..." The spearman sighed calmly as he walked through the broken window, the glass crunching underneath him. "Are you really going to waste this much time struggling? You know what's going to happen in the end."
Shirou didn't listen; could hardly even hear him over the blood in his ears and his gasping breath as he ran into the shed. His eyes darted around the darkened shed, but there was simply no time. He could somehow smell the stench of oncoming death once more—
He spun and unrolled the poster in one smooth motion. As the spear once more tried to take a bite out of him, the poster shattered in a last desperate scream for his life. Shirou fell onto the floor and hissed in pain; it felt like the impact caused a fracture in his tailbone. If he survived this, that was going to be a few days of rest to fix.
The blue-clad lancer stood a few steps inside the shed, his red eyes the same color as his spear, like the color of the death that Shirou would never forget.
"Well, end of the line." The man shrugged. "You got any last words? Maybe a message I can carry onto a friend of yours? I can promise you I ain't gonna hurt 'em."
Shirou just glared more intensely at the man, causing him to sigh again.
"Figures. You might have had potential if someone had gotten to you before me, but unfortunately for you..."
He drew his spear back. Shirou prepared to roll to the side, even if he recognized that as a futile gesture. He was going to die here.
"...my targets never get to run away for long. Nice knowin' ya, kid."
He was going to die here. He was going to die here. He was going to die here. He was going to die he was going to die again he was going to die one more time like he had died an hour ago like he had died ten years ago he was going to die he was going to die
I can't die yet!
In slow motion, the red lance started moving forward, blazing a trail of death once more.
I haven't saved a single person! I haven't gotten to feel what it's like to smile like dad yet!
Shirou breathed one last time.
No! I won't die here! I am not going to die again!
Like a metaphysical cry for help, Shirou's plea reached into the Throne of Heroes. In another timeline, his voice would have been heard by a dying King on a hill, heartbroken and in the throes of despair. She would have been one of the first and last people that he ever truly saved.
Instead, it dove past her, soaring further and further into the core of the Ring of Deterrence, deeper than any other summon had ever gone before. It reached beyond his world, beyond the Reverse Side, beyond anywhere that anyone but the Second Magician had ever gone before. It burst through a spiritual shell and touched the soul of a woman who hadn't been touched in such a way in a long, long time.
"Ah...?" A voice whose timbre had been unheard for too long murmured. "Is someone... asking for me...?"
From her position with her legs curled to one side, she looked up at nothing, but felt the summon sink into her entire body. She closed her eyes and shook as she felt the call.
"I see..." Her smile was beatific. "Well, how could I refuse such a passionate request?"
Shirou's prayer was answered.
A warm light bathed his shed, a light that wrapped him in its embrace and reminded him of long-buried memories of his mother, a light that whispered in his ear that everything would be okay. He felt a surge of strength rejuvenate him as it rushed from his heart to the ends of his limbs. For a moment, Shirou could forget that he was both terrified and furious at his impending death. He felt... bliss.
When he opened his eyes, hands cradled his face, and a pair of golden eyes locked onto his own. The deep pools caused his soul to stir, contorting itself around an idea it couldn't grasp. No, perhaps that wasn't his soul. It felt like some kind of carnal center deep inside of him, something that had never been touched in all his seventeen years of being alive. He didn't know how to deal with it.
His eyes drifted from hers to take in her cheekbones, the outline of her nose, full lips that were curved in a small smile. She was beautiful. If Shirou had a bigger vocabulary, he might have been able to find a more apt description for her, but as it was it seemed perfectly suited for her.
"Eyes like yours..." she said softly, "It has been a long time since I have last seen them. I suppose you must be my Master, hm?"
Shirou opened his mouth to reply, but no comprehensible noise emerged, only a grunt that could be interpreted as vaguely questioning. It made her giggle, which sounded like the tinkling of chimes.
"Adorable." Her thumbs traced the line of his jaw, making a shudder run through him.
"Hey, hey, what the hell is this?" She finally let him breathe by looking away, staring at the interloper that had now made two attempts on his life. "You were a Master this whole time?"
She let go of him slowly and stood up. Shirou only then realized that she was garbed in a nun's outfit. Well, something resembling it, as he was relatively sure that nuns did not cut a slit in their robe that ran up all the way to the top of their thigh. It was extremely difficult to rip his eyes away, but as the tension in the shed increased, he turned to the spearman once more.
"What a mangy mutt you are," she sighed, a cloud of her breath born and dying in the span of a second, "dragging yourself into my Master's home and slobbering all over him. You were never house-trained, were you?"
His face soured, but his shoulders tightened and his feet shifted into a wider stance as he readied for combat.
"Yeah, I didn't take too well to muzzles," he said
She giggled again. "Yet your leash is as tight as a noose." She placed a hand over her mouth to cover the mockingly seductive smile that she wore. "You should be more concerned about breaking your neck."
He growled but kept up his implacable glare. Their standoff continued for what felt like hours without a single person moving. Shirou breathed very quietly, not wanting to set off another fight that would break more of his house. Everyone was on a hair trigger, and he wasn't sure what would touch off the explosion.
Somewhere, the sound of wood shattered like the firing of a gun. Shirou cringed as the spearman jumped forward, thrusting his lance in what would surely be a mortal wound at the woman. Shirou was half to his feet to intercept the attack, but stopped in his tracks as she casually raised both of her hands.
As if mirroring her motion, two ghostly white hands emerged from the soil to clap onto the red lance and pull it away from the spearman, throwing it to the side instead. He exclaimed in shock, but hastily dodged backwards as the hands grabbed at him. Then they slipped back into the earth with an uncomfortable slurping noise when he moved too far for them to reach.
He reached for his spear, but before he grabbed it, his expression turned shocked and he threw himself onto the ground to dodge a hail of arrows that would have otherwise skewered him.
"What the—you again?!" he yelled in the direction of the arrows. "Why in the name of Saint Patrick's seventeen bastard daughters—!"
He didn't get a chance to finish that sentence. Shirou, despite having been killed by this man barely an hour ago, decidedly felt that this had become bullying when another ghostly hand rose from the earth and socked the spearman with an extremely solid uppercut into the jaw. He winced as he heard the crack of bone. The spearman stumbled back, finally grabbed his spear, and spat out some blood.
And with that, he jumped onto his roof, and made what could politely be called a rapid tactical retreat. The nun lowered her hands, but not her guard, and in the next moment easily stepped aside to dodge another hail of arrows.
"Such eagerness," she said in her sensual voice. "Do you seek to impale me as well?"
Shirou managed to get up and stagger to the doorway. The newcomer had broken more of his house. The red swordsman he'd seen battling the spearman approached from the shattered gate of the compound. However, now the man was holding a large black bow, pointed right at the nun.
"Archer, stand down!"
Shirou's shoulders instantly tensed. He recognized that voice. There was no way he would ever not recognize that voice. Rin Tohsaka, student extraordinaire and a girl he most definitely did not have feelings for, easily stepped through the pieces of the broken gate as she yelled to the red-clad archer.
"Master, I'm afraid that right now your tactical analysis of the situation is nothing short of moronic," he stated calmly, his eyes locked onto the nun. "She's—"
"Emiya-kun?" Tohsaka started forward briefly as she spotted him leaning on the doorframe of his shed. "You're alright?"
She gave a sigh of relief, but swiftly followed it up with a glare and a step towards him. "You—!"
"Master!" The man she had called Archer raised his voice, stopping her in her tracks. She finally looked at the nun, and her expression tensed. She flicked her eyes to her classmate again, and he couldn't help but blush under her gaze.
"You of all people had to be the seventh Master...?" she muttered, and then stood a little straighter, pointing a finger at the other woman. "What class are you?"
"My my, so rude." Her question didn't faze the holy woman at all, who still stood between Tohsaka and Archer, and himself. "I suppose it would be nice to get intimate with a pretty little face like yours, but are you really worth my... trust?"
"So the fact that we just saved your Master's life isn't enough for you?" Frustration dripped from every word.
"The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my ally," she replied easily. "I'm sure you understand."
"I just brought this idiot back from the dead not even an hour ago! Why would I want to kill him after—" Tohsaka's twintails bounced as she stomped her foot, holding back a scream.
Shirou's jaw dropped. "Wait, that was you?"
"Yes..." Her hiss did a very good job of imitating a snake. "Now, if you wouldn't mind, Emiya-kun, I think we need to have a little chat."
Those words scared him. They scared him a lot.
Original Author's note as follows:
Kiara will likely get a follow-up if my muse decides to stop sleeping.
Thanks for reading.
Edit: Thanks to the guest reviewer who reminded me that Rin would call him Emiya-kun. My thought was that she was using -san because -kun would be used when she was condescendingly talking down to him, only later turning into a term of endearment. I also fixed a few lines I felt were a little awkward.
Chapter was rewritten as of October 10th, 2019 with the help of TungstenCat and Exstarsis.