First Night (1)
It was time. It was finally time.
Taking a deep, slow breath of the cold Fuyuki air Illyasviel von Einzbern let a triumphant smile appear on her lips...half an honest expression and half an attempt at masking her apprehension.
She shouldn't be nervous. Aside from her own considerable talent as a Magus she had Berserker dutifully following in her wake, the Servant ready to respond to any conceivable threat and grind it to a pulp. One Human boy who may or may not be a third-rate Magus posed less than zero threat to her.
Her throat felt dry, breaths shaky and heart unevenly pounding as she waited for the target of her obsessions to cross over the bridge, crest the small hill and finally gaze upon her.
Her younger brother. Her replacement.
Ah, there it was. The anger, the jealousy, the abandonment...she calmed her nerves, once again standing straight.
She had spent the last two weeks observing the city, following her step-sibling's daily routine with exacting detail, drinking in the details of the life that had been gifted to him and stolen from her.
It was a surprisingly mundane one, a few outlying factors aside.
School, Work at a bar, make dinner and tomorrow's meals, retire to a shed on the outskirts of his home and not leave until next morning, just to repeat the cycle all over again. Like a machine.
The Homunculus' weight shifted slightly, eyes briefly averting from the road as yet another tinge of unease wracked her nerves.
The machine comparison was...almost too perfect. The one thing she had noticed about her little brother only after intense study?
He never smiled. He barely even changed expressions, instead seemingly locked into a mild scowl or frown of concentration. What person didn't smile occasionally, or even do something with their face that was out of the norm?
Yes, Shirou Emiya unnerved Illyasviel, at least to an extent.
She had expected either a dangerous magus, naive child, ignorant idiot or scared, guilt-ridden rat that she could crush under her heel. An emotionless tool wasn't one of those expectations but that was seemingly what she was stuck with...and now that the moment approached Illya wasn't even sure what she wanted to do.
Kill him? Talk with him? Torture him? Demand to know why father abandoned her in favor him? Ask why he was so emotionally barren?
And emotionally barren he was, treating everyone around him with the same polite distraction regardless of social standing or rank.
...Dammit, now she was nervous all over again.
A mental rumble from Berserker caused the Homunculus to wince, a swift command soothing the giant...or at least as soothed as a primal force of destruction could be.
She wanted her brother intact and not a smear on the ground. At least for the moment.
Once more she cast her gaze upwards, watching a random pedestrian cross over the bridge and make his way towards her position-
-a pedestrian with red hair and amber eyes, handsome features rigid and lacking expression.
T-that was him, he was almost upon her!
Belatedly realizing she had been so lost in thought that Shirou Emiya had almost passed her by without being any the wiser Illya quickly made to stride forward and impart to him her warning-
-and a startled yelp left the tiny Homunculus as she tripped over her booted feet in the rush to terrify her brother, landing in a heap on the pavement with a flush quickly spreading over her pale features, mortified at the horrifying spectacle she just made of herself.
There was a grunt in the back of her mind that might have been Beserker asking after her health...or laughing at her, the Servant had displayed an uncharacteristically wide range of emotions for a Berserker-class.
Shakily raising herself up on thin arms, lips pursed and quivering as she tried not to whimper at her foolish display the Homunculus craned her neck-
"...Illya? Is that you?"
-and blinked in blatant shock as the brother she had come to threaten crouched down in front of her, expression still neutral but tone carrying a strange tinge of hope to it, as if he wanted her to be his sister that had been left to suffer for years upon years.
"That is you, correct? Illyasviel von Einzbern?"
Suddenly feeling a swell of indignation the Homunculus puffed out a cheek, retorting, "Oh? You know so many other young, pretty girls with white hair and red eyes that you would mistake them for your long lost sister? Well, aren't you just the lucky one, Shirou-kun~?"
Deliberately letting some acid slip into her tone as she addressed the still emotionless male, regaining her feet beneath her as she dusted off her coat the Homunculus affixed her younger brother with a pointed glare...only to be disappointed as his features didn't shift so much as a millimeter, words mechanical as a dull response of, "Ah. It is you then, Illya," graced her ears.
"Well who else would it be but me?!"
Any nervousness or anticipation she had felt prior to meeting her younger brother had flown out the window in the light of current proceedings, the whole situation now seeming...lessened.
She had come here to deliver an ultimatum, not be left floundering at every twist and turn in conversation!
"That's true, you are you...should I call you Illya onee-san then?"
The albino vessel desperately tried to think of an intelligent response to the young man's statement and came up emptier than a cookie jar after a toddler stampede, blinking rapidly with her mouth hanging open in a most undignified manner.
That title felt kind of...fuzzy.
Snapping herself out of her stupor she swiftly responded, "N-no! I mean...ahem! You haven't yet earned the right to call me that yet, Shirou-kun."
She was surprised at the brief flash of emotion that almost looked like regret pass over her younger brother's face, hazel eye briefly averting themselves.
"...That's fair. Oto-san said it was likely you would hate us."
Finally feeling herself back on solid ground the Homunculus narrowed her crimson eyes, coldly stating, "Yes, well, Emiya-san was quite correct in that regard. He left me behind, killed mother, dishonored the family...all so he could play at fatherhood with you."
"He did all of that, yes. But he always cared about you more than he did me."
The tirade of threats and dire warnings Ilya had been about to impart died on her lips at the hazel-eyed boy's declaration.
She was an Einzbern and a Magus. Thus, discerning and separating truth from lie was practically second nature for her...and she had detected no deception whatsoever in her opposite's tone. No hesitation, no withholding...no emotion other than complete and total conviction. Even the statement about Kiritsugu apparently caring about her more than him had been free of jealousy or envy.
"...I have a hard time believing that. If Emiya-san cared about me as much as you say he did, you must have endured quite the horrific childhood."
A stoic nod.
"I did. Or, at least now I know I did, after I talked to Issei-san. But Oto-san was only cruel because I told him to be, because he wanted to save you so badly but couldn't."
For yet another time that night Ilya was left speechless, completely thrown off kilter by her brother's casual and bewildering explanations and behavior.
"Why don't I show you where we lived? There are some things there that can explain better than I can."
Mind racing to catch up with the current shift in events Ilya opened her mouth to reply-
-and froze as she she saw her brother's hand reaching out clasp her shoulder, face frozen with no emotion whatsoever...and all she could think of was being back in the Einzbern basements, strapped to a table so her pained thrashing wouldn't disrupt the process, the complete apathy on her family's faces as they cut into both flesh and soul while all she could do was clench her teeth and curse the one who put her there.
Shirou's eyes widened a fraction as, in response to Ilya's distress Berserker manifested with a baleful rumble, swinging his gargantuan sword with the clear intent to pulverize the source of his master's anguish.
Except said master suddenly yelped in shock, a powerful arm wrapping around her shoulders and hugging her close to a warm, muscular body...and Ilya felt nothing but resignation as-through her empathetic link-Berserker halted his attack as it would have otherwise killed the Homunculus alongside her attacker.
Of course. Her brother had been a liar all along. The first sign of trouble, at the sign of a Servant and he had used her as a hostage, knowing he wouldn't be attacked as long as the master was at risk-
-why was she still moving?
Blinking in blatant disbelief as she was whirled away from Berserker Ilya felt herself crushed even tighter against her younger brother's form, a brief flare of prana and sound of screeching steel reaching her ears as she dared to look at what was happening...and felt her mouth drop.
The giant immediately froze, no more than a second away from physically reaching out and crushing the male's head in lieu of smashing it with his weapon...Shirou not budging an inch as he hugged Ilya close, eyes locked unblinkingly on the giant's.
The Homunculus felt herself rapidly approaching some manner of threshold when it came to handling completely unprecedented events.
Her brother...he hadn't been using her as a shield. He had been protecting her. A completely unknown threat of indeterminable lethality had appeared out of nowhere and his first instinct, despite knowing her for only a few minutes and not being the main focus of the attack...had been to shield her with his own body.
She was grateful that his gaze was focused on Berserker as it meant she wouldn't have to explain why her face was as red as his hair.
Quickly shaking herself out of her embarrassed stupor the Homunculus said, "It's fine, Shirou-kun. Berserker is mine."
"...Ah. So the Grail War started early then?"
"You know about the Grail War?"
Never wavering in his observation of the gargantuan Servant Shirou calmly explained, "Oto-san told me everything. But it starting forty years early is a surprise."
A mental command had Berserker shifting into spirit form, the young man only then relaxing slightly and loosening his hold on Ilya.
Now that she had her flush under control the girl took a moment to properly examine just what it was that her step-sibling had done.
Three oversized claymore swords were embedded in the ground like fenceposts, another held reverse grip style as if an improvised shield-
-and with a similar effect to Gradation Air objects being dismissed the swords dispersed into motes of glittering blue light, Shirou finally turning to face her fully since he grabbed her.
...She tried hard not to blush once again and failed miserably, realizing that her brother was...actually pretty tall, at least compared to her who was stuck as a young teen and not a day older.
"Were those swords your Magecraft?"
"They were, but we can talk about that later. Right now we need to get off the streets and back to our home, it's not safe if the Grail War has actually started."
Ilya felt compelled to point out there was no other place safer than next to Berserker but decided not to comment on that...instead she warily asked, "Did you say...our home?"
"I did. My apologies, you probably don't think of it as home yet, do you?"
"W-well it's not like I-eep!"
An undignified squeak left the Homunculus as Shirou gently but firmly placed an arm around her shoulders, setting a rapid but manageable pace as his eyes swiftly scanned every nook and cranny for potential threats.
Pouting at the action but not arguing Ilya instead warned, "Fine...but you a lot of explaining to do."
"Of course. I promise once we're not in an exposed area I'll explain everything to the best of my ability."
Feeling the slightest of smiles tug at her lips Ilya replied, "Okay...Onii-chan."
Sure, it wasn't how she had thought their first meeting would go...but the Homunculus would be lying if she wasn't far happier with the current turn of events than any other possible scenario she had first planned.
Good God, another story that I'm putting out. But just like the Pokemon one this a more of a shorter variety than it is longform, not like my other works that climb into the hundred of thousands of words.
Basically this'll be the-as the title implies-the fourth route that never was, with best girl and Servant...Illya and Berserker.
I guess the budget or allotted time ran out when writing and coding for the original Fate/Stay Night, since our homicidal Homunculus never got the attention she deserves. Actually, considering how many spinoffs and stuff she got I'm surprised there was never any real DLC or additional routes added that feature her.
So yeah, this story will focus on the Emiya household and their past. While the Grail War will still be a factor a fair few chapters will focus on Shirou and Illya trying to reconcile their pasts and the fallout of their familial disputes, stay tuned!