Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to the Fate Series or RWBY other than merchandise and a shit ton of servants in FGO.
Author's Notes: Haven't written much of anything in recent years but this specific case of creative blue balls refused to die so here we are.
Just as a word of warning for anyone who may end up liking this: updates will be sporadic at times. This will most likely be due to my job as an active duty member of the armed force and won't always have access to a reliable means to upload new content.
With that out of the way I hope you enjoy.
Chapter 1: Just Passing Through
"Please, please I insist." A woman called whilst ushering open the worn oak wood door of her residence for her departing guest.
She was a tiny thing, sporting short chocolate brown hair and a pair of rectangular spectacles sitting just at the edge of her button nose.
"I appreciate the offer Mrs. Scarlatina but I really shouldn't." A warm voice followed behind her. "You already paid me for the heater issue."
In contrast to her, the man she was seeing out was a giant; towering over her by nearly a full head in height even when considering the perky rabbit ears sprouting from her hairline. Huge to her but in reality, to everyone else, he was simply above average. Though, while his size could be called normal, the rest of his appearance could not.
His hair predominantly consists of a snow white edged by locks of red. Cream shaded skin was marred by tongues of tanned pigment flickering from his left shoulder like fire. The juxtaposition of pigments and hues giving him somewhat of a "scorched" appearance. Initially, she had thought his appearance had been altered but some carefully placed verbal prodding had yielded the opposite to be true.
The golden orbs gleaming from his sockets were arguably the most striking of his features. Molten irises bordered by a wariness that looked alien on one so young. This opinion, however, changed when she caught him staring off into space with an unnerving stillness, muttering something incomprehensible under his breath before returning back to his work. It was a look different from the raw emotion she would see often see on her children after they had woken up from a bad dream. This one wasn't so fleeting; a mere inconvenience at this point, as if he had endured the nightmares for years now.
All this, and that was not even touching upon the proverbial elephant in the room.
"But the amount you offered to take was so little." Mrs. Scarlatina rebutted; her better judgement preventing her gaze from locking on to his left side…and the arm that was sorely absent from its socket. "There's no way that much covers for a full day of work."
"I really don't mind. You and your family certainly need it more than I do." He said, casting an eye to the home filled with one too many hungry mouths than it should be able to handle before returning his gaze toward his meager surroundings, the empty sleeve of his working coveralls fluttering gently in the wind.
Vale as a whole was often considered to be the most beautiful of all four of Remnant's Kingdoms: Sanus' Shining Green Jewel some would say. With such an exclaimed reputation many found it difficult imagining the sanctuary of humanity as anything but perfect. Nonetheless, despite its vastness, Vale at its core was still a city and was not exempt from the ails that plague its lesser cousins.
"It's never wrong to help others." He added with a smile.
The woman's expression softened upon hearing those words. They sounded so odd when being associated with a simple electrical problem; as if they were more accustomed for some greater purpose.
Despite having never served the cause herself, she was not blind to all the factors that outline people such as him. Muscles too defined to have been gained while on the job, palm callused in the manner customary with wielding weapons and the unconditional desire to help others were telltale signs of someone who has served in the fight against humanity's most ancient enemy.
The missing arm only highlighted the fact.
To see a man who had risked his life protecting those who would never care in such a sorry state was unacceptable in her eyes.
"Take it." She said firmly, shoving the lien into his remaining hand.
"Ma'am I've already said you don't need the extra money."
"It was hard wasn't it?" Someone like this deserved to be where they were meant to be; not tolling away their lives as some civil servant.
"Um, what was?"
"Trying to get by but not being able to do what you were meant to do, being force to have to adapt to different way of life to survive." She had heard stories of veterans being forced to retire after receiving an injury in battle. The fact that he hadn't given up hope despite his situation was inspiring.
"Mrs. Scarlatina…I don't think we're exactly on the same page here." She wasn't having a word of it; patting his back affectionately on her way back inside.
"Keep the lien. It's the least I could do for what you sacrificed in order to keep us safe." Perhaps with the extra money he would eventually be able to afford a prosthetic. It would at least make his life easier even if he didn't return to keeping the peace.
"Okay, now I'm certain you are definitely-" A door slamming in his face was his reply. "-Misunderstanding something."
He could already see his client skipping her way inside, pleased with herself for her supposed good deed. A sigh left him as his single hand moved to scratch the back of his scalp.
"Maybe I should stick to wearing a cape or something to hide the missing arm." At least then he wouldn't keep getting falsely labeled as some kind of war veteran.
"Please don't." The telltale purr of a woman's voice called to him from behind. "You'd look ridiculous."
He didn't even have to turn to associate the voice with its owner.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were stalking me."
A woman of athletic build and luscious jet-black hair wearing a white blouse and jeans greeted him. Her fiery orange eyes gleaming back at him with near predatory intent. Her smile dripping with a mischievous alure.
"Stalk is such a…harsh word." A slender finger traced her lips in thought. "…I prefer the term secret admirer."
"You know, that tends to be what stalkers start as." He replied flatly, descending the stairs leading to the home to meet her.
"Perhaps~." She drolled in a breath that could ignite the hearts of lesser men. Her arms crossing in front of her torso to extenuate the curves of her chest. "Afterall, the line between infatuation and obsession can be oh so very thin."
"And which one would you be?" He questioned, coming to a stop in front of her.
"Oh, but where's the fun in that?" A soft, manicured hand came to caress his sharp features. "A better question would be: which one do you prefer?"
Golden yellow rolled within their sockets at her antics. His response came in a more forceful imitation of her actions.
Her confident visage shattered under the firm grip to her chin. Year of being on the offensive had left her vulnerable to attack. Before she could develop a perfectly measured defense a pair of lips met her own, her legs threatening to fail had she not braced herself on his steady form.
"I prefer the one that is Cinder." He accentuated with a soft smile.
The newly identified Cinder didn't dare to meet his gaze. A hand instantly moving to conceal the developing redness threatening to manifest on her face.
Internally, she had devolved into a cacophony of self-loathing. What was she, some kind of lovestruck teenage? Some wet behind the ears huntress with her head in the clouds?
If the others caught wind of this, she would never hear the end of it. Watts in particular was already insufferable by default, imagining such a man being even more unbearable didn't seem feasibly possible to her but she wouldn't take her chances. She already had to fight for her right to head this operation; she couldn't risk compromising her only opportunity to prove herself.
It was just then that the source of her current plight had turned to find that he had been walking on his own for a while now. He turned to find his lover paralyzed in thought. With how flustered she could get when caught off guard she was beginning to act like a certain twin-tailed girl that he had known in the past. For a moment, a somber expression flashed upon his features before dissipating just as quickly as it had come.
"Oi Cinder, you coming?" He called, shaking her out of her musing and causing her to quickly make strides to meet him. He offered his single hand which she took with a hint of hesitance; taking great care only to cup there hands rather than lace their fingers together.
A portion of the light in Cinder's eyes died upon realizing she had just pondered the significance of which manner of holding hands was more appropriate with her significant other.
She refused to call him her boyfriend!
"After washing up I was thinking about making steak tonight for dinner; well-done just the way you like it." He pondered out loud.
"You don't have to change the way you cook for me." Cinder responded in an uncharacteristically meek tone. "Anything you make is good." Her internal-self raged at her rebellious mouth for making her sound so weak.
"My cooking is nothing special." Cinder nearly called bullshit on that notion. "But I can hope that it will be when I make with someone I care about in mind."
"That's rather thoughtful of you." She said in tone palpable with confidence, as if to make up for her recent lack of tact.
"Anything for my Princess." He said with a sickening sweetness causing the subject of his affection to release a nauseating groan.
"Can you be any cornier?"
"Yes, but for your sake, I'm holding back just in case that grin gets stuck on your face forever." He teased.
She gasped, her vacant hand balling into a fist as to prevent it from shooting to cover her expression lest she admit defeat. "J-Just do whatever you want." Her skin paled a shade whiter.
"Who are you!?"
Cinder Fall does not stutter!
He merely nodded with a pleased grin on his face, oblivious to her internal plight.
It was never meant to be this way. He was supposed to be wrapped around Her finger not the other way around; a tool to be groomed and thrown away just like all the others.
When had that changed?
Other than his appearance, he had been so mundane, so assumingly unassuming that she had never seen the big picture. No, that wasn't right. There never was a big picture to begin with, no ulterior motive. What had caught her attention simply was, in his own words, "Nothing special". Yet she had never believed him. In the real world, no one was ever what they seemed. Backstabbing was as present as the sky and deception was spread as easily as breathing.
No matter how many ways the kingdoms painted it: the world isn't a kind place.
Everyone had an agenda.
Everyone was selfish.
Everyone…except for him.
And she supposed that had made all the difference.
She hated it, hated him…or… at least that is what she used to tell herself. Now, she wasn't so sure anymore.
Her grip tightened in his hand, causing him to turn toward her with the same concerned look as always.
"I'm fine." She grit through clenched teeth, her fingers consciously easing their grip.
He didn't appear to be satisfied by her answer but neither did he pry; resuming whatever he had been talking about before she had unintentionally interrupted him.
He was a distraction.
She hadn't come to Vale in order to play games. If only she could go back in time and warn her past self of what was to come; to spare her from this temptation, this drug; striking a line between this fantasy and what really mattered.
As the thought crossed her mind she returned from her hapless gazing at the soot and grim of the underbelly of Vale to catch the side of a face that she quickly found herself losing herself in. And before she knew it, Cinder Fall: Future Maiden, Criminal Mastermind, and Lieutenant to the Mother of All Grimm eased herself into her boyfriend's shoulder to be whisked away into a life that she did not deserve.
Whether she could turn back time wasn't the issue anymore.
But rather whether she would be able bring herself to stop this future from occurring even if she did.
Cinder Fall wished she could control time. Specifically, to fast-forward time to a moment in the future where she wasn't behind the wheel of a Bullhead. Honestly, the details didn't matter anymore. She could be flown forward as soon as this heist's conclusion to the inevitable heat death of Remnant's star. Bone chilling uncertainty would still be preferable to the present.
Why you ask?
"Do you ever wonder why we're here?"
"It's one of life's great mysteries isn't it? Why are we here?" This was only the most recent example of stupidity that had plagued her this night. Now if only she could find a way to physically force her brain to cease its ability to process sound in order to spare herself from the acute brain cell death of simply decoding the vibrations being produced from these idiots' mouths.
"It's just for this one mission. Before long Adam Taurus' men will have arrived in Vale and then they will be the one's handling this." The thought hadn't helped. If anything, it made it worse knowing that there was a rational and legitimate reason for why she was subjecting herself to this torture.
She had to question the sanity of her past self for believing that piloting an aircraft would be a worthwhile skill to have.
"I mean, why do they call it a Bullhead anyways? It doesn't really look like a bull. If anything, I think it looks more like a puma."
"What in Sam Hell is a puma?" A third one decided to add to her plight by chiming in.
Simply occupying her thoughts was proving to no longer be a sufficient means of escapism. She needed a distraction fast!
Spheres of fire shot around the cockpit of the aircraft fruitlessly. Finding no means to draw away her attention inside. Instead, she turned her perspective outward toward one of their contact's men across the vacant lot they were parked in. He seemed almost hysterical with the level of enthusiasm he was thanking the man at the door. The man in question sported a sheepish expression on his face, seemingly unsure of what to do with the man's thanks.
At first, Cinder had thought that he had been another one of Junior's goons but upon further inspection it was clear that he was cut from a different cloth; the likes of which he only wore the under portion, having forgone the red and black jacket and headwear that was typical of the club staff. His unique physical characteristic caused him to stick out like a sore thumb amongst his clone-like peers. In short, he looked more like a Huntsman than anything else, bearing the bombastic features that was customary for humanity's beacons of hope in the darkness. That was including the missing limb of course.
Oh, the story behind that one would no doubt have been a good one to tell around the campfire.
As she pictured the eyes of children sparkling in wonder at an experienced Huntsman's tales one particular thought stuck with her. If this man truly was a Huntsman, what was he doing covering for some no-name back alley goon?
To pay for a new arm perhaps? It would have been a sound argument for a civilian but, as a fully licensed Huntsman, he would be privy to all the benefits that protectors of humanity enjoy: free healthcare being one of the more noteworthy perks. It wouldn't do for a Huntsman to be permanently put out of commission by a measly case of dismemberment; that wasn't even accounting for all the potential wasted years involved in training a new huntsman. And with the sheer number of horrors she had witnessed at the heels of her master: Humanity needed every Huntsman they could get.
"Hey you there, wrap it up already! You can make kissy faces at each other later!" Her Vale liaison announced his oh so elegant arrival. "How's it going boss? You miss me?"
"Hardly." Cinder grumbled out, trying with all her might to distance herself from her temporarily demeaning position as transport.
Luckily for her, (after flexing a portion of her power) he had quickly learned that any derogatory nicknames that he had become accustomed of calling his usual clientele were strictly off the table. Unluckily for her, he also just so happened to be Roman Torchwick: an egotistical, self-proclaimed "gentleman" who was fortunate enough to have his fingers in nearly every pot of anyone that mattered in Vale's underground. A useful ally to have when conducting anything that needed to be done under the table.
"Well we'll just have to fix that now won't we." He mused while lighting another one of his ever-present cigars.
He was also a scientifically proven ass.
Upon seeing that that harmless quip had indeed stoked a literal fire in his current employer's eye Roman quickly chose to deflect her ire toward something more productive. "S-So uh what's the plan boss?"
"A little test run if you will." Cinder said, transitioning from murderous to professional effortlessly. "The target is a dust shop going by the name: From Dust Tilll Dawn. One of the few dust shops that are open 24 hours a day."
"Quiet the pitch. Though, I'd imagine that a place like that wouldn't be getting much business at this hour."
"Smash and grab then, sounds easy enough."
"It should be a simple job."
"Is that doubt I smell boss? Come on, where's the vote of confidence? I do jobs like this all the time. We'll be in and out before the fuzz has any idea we were even there."
Cinder chose not to add to the conversation. Somehow, she got the feeling that tonight wouldn't be as simple as he had predicted.
"Thank you again for doing this." The Man exclaimed with genuine relief.
He merely waved the man off. "It really is no trouble at all. It's not like I had any plans tonight to begin with."
"That still doesn't undercut how much of a lifesaver you are. The club was going to be absolutely scrapped for manpower with how many of us were volun-told by the boss for this new job." He said while gesturing to the bullhead parked out back.
"I'd hardly call myself a lifesaver." He didn't deserve such a title. "I doubt that I'll make much of a difference in the work load. Though, that does bring to question why you're concerned about the clubs manning in the first place. From how you put it, it sounds like your boss was the one to assign you to this job in the first place, why should it be your responsibility to find a replacement? If he couldn't spare the bodies, he wouldn't have pawn your group off in the first place."
"Well you're not wrong." The man laughed off. "All of us are dime a dozen really, outside of hard labor and simple tasking most of us aren't much good for anything." The matter hadn't even needed to be clarified to be evident. Even to the untrained eye, it was clear that most of the near identical looking personnel wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a real firearm and a toy that fired foam darts. "But despite that, the boss still keeps hiring worthless guys like us when he could probably use the money for something better."
"It's alright, you've said enough already." He assured the man before the talk began to tread into personal territory. Perhaps he had been too quick to judge the integrity of this place.
"Hey you there, wrap it up already!" A voice cried from the direction of the airship.
"Well, looks like you're up."
"Yeah," The man chuckled out before his posture straightened to a more confident stance. "I'll be sure to save you a piece of the cut when this is over."
"That really isn't necessary but I appreciate the sentiment regardless." He said, watching the shrinking back of the man before returning back into the dance club to his position behind the counter.
"Had yourself a nice chat, Shirou?"
"Mr. Gray is a rather honest man." Shirou stated simply, rummaging behind the counter to better organize the glassware so that it would be more easily accessible during the late-night rush.
"If by honest then you mean scatter brained then yeah, he sure is." A man brandishing a full beard and a more relaxed version of the club uniform similar to Shirou's own grumbled in a way that spoke of a history that would not be revealed tonight.
He chuckled whilst moving about the bar with a sense of familiarity that should have been impossible for a temporary hire. It was rare for his men to find people that were actually better at their job than they were to cover for them. While he appreciated the sentiment, it was more often than not that their substitutes made a complete dog's dinner of the place than not.
Initially, he had elected to have him work as the bus boy for fear of him mucking up anything too complicated but before he could assign him his position, Shirou was already behind the bar serving customers left and right. Even making drinks that he previously hadn't trusted anyone but himself to make. Hell, even the whole one-armed thing was proving to be a boon. With the creative maneuvers that he had to use in order to compensate for his lacking appendage playing out more like a parlor trick to the masses.
Man, it was nice having someone competent with him behind the bar for once.
In fact, now that he thought about it…
"Yes Boss?" He asked innocently while sliding a drink over to an awaiting customer's hand.
"You'd just arrived in Vale, right?"
"Just arrived this morning actually."
"Do you, by chance, have a place to stay?"
Shirou rubbed the inside of his palm across his chin. "Not particularly. I was hoping just to make it up as I go."
Junior spied a bar patron walk away with one of Shirou's drinks in hand. The moment the drink touched his lips his eyes became alight with astonishment before downing the drink as if the sting of alcohol hadn't graced his tongue. His group, seeing their friend's reaction, flocked to Shirou's side of the bar with a new fever. Before he knew it there was a near triple in the amount of bar goers with drinks in their hands, some of which being ones who he had recognized as strictly non-alcoholic club goers (as strange as that may sound, they did in fact exist).
Junior poured himself a shot glass of some leftover cocktail that Shirou hadn't got around to cleaning up just yet. Eager to see what all the fuss was about.
Memories of an island off the coast of Vale welled within his mind's eye; the rush of the ocean waves, the refreshing taste of fruit under the summer sun, the warmth of a passing flame. And before he knew it, just like the springtime of his youth…the drink was gone.
Awaking from his stupor with shock, Junior surveyed his surrounds to see what secret ingredient he hadn't known he had kept in stock had been put in such a heavenly drink. He looked left, then right, and even under the counter. Yet no matter where he looked only two bottles stared back at him mockingly: Pineapple Gin and Tonic…
…What kind of sorcery was this?
"Well, if it means anything to you? The boys and I would love to have you, as a full-timer I mean."
Upon seeing Shirou's lack of reaction Junior began to feel a sense of urgency in recruiting his future second bartender.
"We'll even cover for your rent, at least until you can stand on your own feet." He upped the offer while scrutinizing the two bottles as if to glean some kind of deeper meaning from the items.
Growing up in the underbelly of Vale, Hei Xiong did not have a lot of pride in many things. His club was one of the few exceptions to that rule. As a bartender of several years in his own right he had thought he had reached a level of mastery that was to be proud of.
He was wrong.
A man that could have passed for an invalid had come and made his craft appear like a dark smudge on society, a mistake that wasn't even worth bringing attention to. The fruits of his profession being nothing more than garbage that had fallen from the tree whose sole purpose was to never be sold.
And he had nearly had him cleaning tables…
"Around these parts we treat our employees like family. If you become a part of the crew you won't want for anything ever again. I'll even throw in a starting bonus for your first paycheck. As uh…a little welcome present for your arrival in Vale." Junior could feel his value as man decrease with each line spoken. He might as well have been groveling. "So whaddaya say?"
At this point, it didn't matter what lengths he had to go through to acquire Shirou Emiya as his own. Just on skillset alone he would be able to make back the initial cost in no time at all. Not only would he gain a god level mixologist under his belt but by encompassing him within a veil of companionship he was preventing a potential rival from sprouting up and running him out of business. It was a win, win in his eyes.
However, before he could hear the man's reply a distraction as bright as the sun in the middle of July shined in front of his counter demanding his attention. A girl, possessing an absolutely healthystart on her path to womanhood sat before him with a mischievous smirk on her face.
Sunkissed blonde hair, lavender eyes absent of fear, and a color-scheme that spoke of fire: A Huntress.
Junior felt the skin on the back of his neck crawl. People like her would only spell trouble.
"Strawberry Sunrise, no ice. Oh, and one of those little umbrella things too if you have them!" Junior gleaned every scrap of useful information as he could from her order. Strawberry Sunrises were a non-alcoholic drink, popular with teenagers who still wanted to feel like adults at social gatherings. She was underaged, given her…assets he was more inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.
A Huntress-in-Training then.
That only made things worse.
Seasoned veterans had greater control over their powers; years of experience on the field against Grimm and humans alike had tempered their control so that they wouldn't flex their power unless thoroughly provoked. Trainees were still coming to terms with their newfound strength, wound together about as tightly as teenage hormones could keep virtual superhuman powers in check: which was close to not at all.
Wordlessly, Junior motioned for Melanie and Militia to stick close by. He turned to fashion the girl's drink when she raised her hand to stop him.
"He can make me my drink," she said while motioning to Shirou," You~ on the other hand, have something I need." She added, turning back to the bar owner.
"Sorry, but you're a little too young for my taste." His prod at her age only seemed to ignite a playful spark in her eye.
"Ha, that's funny you should say that because you look a little old to be going by a name like Junior."
"So, you know who I am." That didn't bode well for him. A Huntress-in-Training who was not only scouring the underground but a one that was looking for him specifically. "You got a name Sweetheart?"
"Yes, Junior I have several but instead of Sweetheart," her grin had yet to leave her cheeks and had even seemed to grow just a tad wider as she played with the edges of his tie, "You can call me Sir!" A pitch that Junior didn't even know he was still capable of producing was squeezed out of him along with the pair of jewels threatening to burst under the girl's vice like grip.
A grown man struggled against the bar's counter, unable to escape the grasps of a single teenage girl.
"People say you know everything. Tell me where to find her and I'll let you go." She bargained, flashed the screen of scroll to reveal a raven haired woman bearing a striking resemblance to Junior's tormentor.
"I-I've…never seen her before…I swear!" Apparently, she hadn't liked that answer as her stranglehold on his boys increasing to dangerous levels.
"…Excuse me." The no-nonsense voice of one Shirou Emiya announced. "I'm not interrupting something, am I?"
"No! / Yes!" Interrogator and prisoner called as one. The girl shot a glare at the man and a new squeal eked out of him.
"I'm sorry but your drink is ready miss." The one-armed man presented like a typical Sebastian. A salesman-like smile flashing unperturbed despite the situation at hand.
"I appreciate the thought but I'm kind of busy here." The blonde said while chancing a sip.
Before long, her lips refused to leave the glass until the drink was properly finished.
"Wow! That's the best Strawberry Sunrise I've ever tasted! I'll be sure to point myself in the opposite direction of you when I have to punch my way out of here." She punctuated with a tall swig of her glass only to be met with only ice.
"About that." Shirou said while shooting a look at the emasculated man who had apparently been forgotten in favor of what was ultimately just soda mixed with strawberry grenadine. "I'd rather we end things right here and now before things get out of hand."
"Ha! Out of hand, I get it!" She giggled while slamming her glass down on the counter top. Whether Shirou had intended for that to be a pun or not was not evident but he did not laugh.
"Come on what's with the stony face? Am I the only one with a sense of humor here?" Her free hand moved to playful rap against his chest but immediate recoiled back to her chest. "Ah~ You know you're built out much sterner stuff then you look handsome. Maybe you really are made of stone or something."
"Close, steel would be a more fitting analogy though." The blonde seemed too preoccupied nursing her swollen hand to respond. "Afterall…My Body Is Made of Blades."
"Blades huh? That's kind of a weird thing to say-…" The girl's words were cut in their path, the hairs on the back of the girl's neck stood on end. The hand that had been keeping Junior hostage, shot to her neck as if to stop the bleeding for a wound that wasn't there. A terror filled expression whipped around in the direction of the unassuming man; wild lavender met steely gray.
Pupils expanded into saucers; her breathing escalated to manic levels.
Then, as if all traces of sentience had been bled from her, she collapsed into Shirou's awaiting arm.
"Wh-Whoa." Junior gasped out in between nursing his bruised groin. "What did you do to her?"
"Just some simple hypnosis. She should be up and ready to go by tomorrow morning."
"That's quite the Semblance you have there."
"Yeah, Semblance." Shirou uttered more than he confirmed.
Seeing that he wasn't going to get an explanation, Junior straightened up his attire in a failed attempt to save face in front of a potential business associate. "I meant what I said you know. I could really use someone like you here with us."
Any form of blatant pandering had evaporated form his tone. "Between you and me, the boys are pretty helpless. If Blondie here had actually popped off there's no telling what would have happened to them. Melanie, Militia and I can only do so much; it would mean the world to them if they had another person to have their backs when some of the real big shots decide to throw their weight around."
Shirou did not answer immediately, hoisting up the teen in a manner that would support the weight of young woman despite his disability. "I appreciate the offer but I should really get this girl back home. It wouldn't look too well if word got out that underage girls were falling unconscious here."
Junior's breath hitched in his throat at the implications. However. he was quick to banish the thought, his shoulders sagged with acceptance. "No, no it wouldn't."
"I'll be on my way then. It was pleasant working you with even if it wasn't for very long."
Shirou bowed his head lightly, making his way to the back exit with the girl at his hip; attempting to look as inconspicuous as possible to any scathing eyes.
"Don't be afraid to swing by if you're in the area. I'll have a drink as good as yours waiting for you next time."
"I look forward to it. Have a good night Mr. Xiong." He called over his shoulder. Just as he was about to exit the building a pair of twins barred his path.
"She doesn't look like much." The one is red spoke with an even tone whilst taking stock of the girl resting in his grasp.
"I bet we could have taken her easy." The one in white boasted with absolute confidence.
His gave the twins a quick once over, his gaze linger on their hands and feet respectively. "No, you wouldn't have." He response not presented as a claim but as fact.
They would lose.
The twins didn't appear to have appreciated that revelation, their identical faces scrunching in offense. "Whatever/Whatever." They echoed before strutting off into the crowd.
Shirou merely shook his head, not understanding what he had done to gain their scorn.
It didn't take much searching to find the mode of transportation that the Huntress-in-Training had used to get to the club.
Yellow just like the sun of her hair with black detailing the motorcycle stood out amongst the drab of their surroundings. Bold and bright: a perfect fit for a girl with enough balls to strongarm a minor gang boss by his own balls.
He propped her up on her bike, its dashboard coming alive once its owner's Scroll verification had been identified. Though now that he had gotten her to this point, he was kind of at a loss of what to do next.
He had ridden a bike or two in his past but that had been before he had been…indisposed. That wasn't even factoring in that he had no idea where she lived even if he managed to figure out a way to drive with one hand.
He would have pondered this further but it appeared that life had deemed such things to be unnecessary at the moment.
An avian call reverberated through the parking structure. Shirou took in a deep breath through his nostrils, turning in a direction away where Bumblebee was parked.
A disheveled man with deep black hair and dulled red eyes materialized where there had not been a soul before.
Shirou's nostrils crinkled in disgust.
He could already smell the alcohol from here…
"Good evening, Mr. Branwen."
"Okay, no. Stop that."
"Pardon?" Shirou said with genuine confusion in voice.
"Yes, that!" Seeing that he wasn't taking the hint, the man grumbled a slur under his breath. "You know, being so~…what's the word…straight? No, that's not it. Clean? Peaceful? Nah, that's not right either. God what's the word? Starts with a P…"
It had to be a word the man probably didn't use very often, otherwise he wouldn't be having such trouble pulling it from his vocabulary. Inversing this thought process, Shirou simply thought of an opposite of a word that could be used to describe Qrow Branwen,
"That's~ the word! That!" Qrow sputtered, taking great care with avoiding saying it himself; as if the sheer pronunciation of it would be against his existence. "It makes it harder to hate you."
That and being addressed solely by his last name was just unnerving. Not even his boss called him that. It just didn't feel right.
Shirou's brow furrowed, confused. It was rare that a person would want to be treated less respectfully. More personably maybe but he doubted a man like Qrow wanted anything to do with him.
"Apologies, I guess? Force of habit." He said falling back on his old nervous tick whenever he had upset a person in a way he didn't quite understand.
"That seems unlikely." Qrow noted, causing Shirou's hand to cease its scratching. "The only places where someone would build up a habit like that is in the Police Force or the Military. Both of which just don't seem like your kind of wheelhouse." Even Mistral, which customarily positioned the Familial Name before the Given Name didn't address people as such.
Shirou motioned to refute the idea but decided against it. Doing so would only insight more suspicion. This is what made dealing with Qrow so difficult. It wasn't very often that someone so consistently belligerent could also be so quick witted.
"So, what gives? Last time I checked you weren't in the babysitting business."
"I wouldn't be against the idea in all honesty." Qrow snorted at Shirou's words as if he had just heard something ridiculous. "Others have called me a bit of a mother hen at times. You, on the other hand, I would expect to warm up to kids just as easily as you do non-alcoholic drinks."
"Ha, hit the nail on the head with that one."
"Aren't you supposed to be a teacher?"
"Whazz yur point?" Qrow muffled voice sounded from around the neck of his flask. Just because he taught the brats didn't mean he had to like them. Plus, it's not like he spent much time at Signal once his youngest niece had been old enough to pick up her weapon without tipping over. Being the eyes and ears of a secret cult hellbent on keeping Remnant from descending into chaos saw to that.
Shirou merely rolled his eyes. Some people really were just lost causes.
"Normally, you'd be right but I'll make an exception for my own brats." Qrow said, finally bringing attention to the girl propped up on her motorcycle as if she had fallen asleep face first at the controls.
"…Oh…I…I mean she kind of looks like you but…I hadn't known that you…well you know…" Shirou's expression visibly warped with disgust. As if the very thought of the man reproducing was an afront to him.
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?! Qrow bellowed out in an uncustomary sign of offense. "Besides, she's not mine she's Raven's kid…not that that really means anything." With the clan's traditions you were more likely to find love and affection from a random person on the street than with your own parents.
"Huh? I'd thought I'd recognized her from somewhere."
"Great, and with that "Big Reveal" out of the way I might as well take 'er off your hands. Er- well hand." The huntsman quickly corrected.
"Be my guest." Seeing no harm in it, he made way for the girl's uncle.
"Much obliged." Qrow thanked while positioning himself on the bike in such a way that his niece wouldn't fall off just in case his semblance decided to make the way back home more unpleasant then it needed to be.
"Are sure you're okay to drive that?" Shirou rightfully asked.
"Hey! I'll have you know I'm only a little drunk!" (Driving under the influence is bad kids!)
"While that is also troubling that wasn't what I was referring to." Shirou hissed between his teeth as his ears were subject to the worrisome noises coming from Bumblebee due to Qrow's fumbling with the controls.
"Ah, there we go," The engine of the motorcycle finally settling into a gentle purr. "No need to worry. I test drove the thing myself before passing her off to good Ol' Firecracker here." He said while running a hand through his niece's golden locks.
The rigidity in Shirou's form softened at the display. "She must really mean a lot to you for you to shell out so much for her." He had taken the man for a cheapskate but perhaps he was wrong about him in more ways than one.
"Who said anything about paying?" Okay back down to one. That hadn't lasted long.
"Only you." Qrow gave off a huff of amusement at the comment.
"Welp, I better get this one back home." Qrow said, revving the engine. "But before I go, something has been bothering me."
"What are you doing in Vale Shirou Emiya?" The sudden edge to Qrow's tone brought an uncomfortable smile to form on Shirou's lips.
"Would you believe me if I said I was just passing through?"
"I would…if you hadn't said that exact same thing every other time we met."
Realizing that Qrow was not going to budge on the subject, Shirou decided to offer a bit of assurance. "Look, if it means anything to you; I don't plan on getting involved with anything while in Vale. I'll just carry out the occasion odd job here and there and move on like I always do."
"That's what I was afraid of." Qrow noted under his breath before driving off.
"Have a safe trip." Shirou waved off.
He didn't get a reply back.
Yang had been soundly put to bed and he had bumped his funny bone on the door on his way out as per usual. The results of his semblance hurt like a bitch but the stinging sensation did good in clearing away the fog from his buzz. Indulgence may be his middle name but there was a time and place for everything and he needed a clear mind to gather his thoughts together.
Shirou Emiya had just stepped foot in Vale.
This changed everything.
Qrow's hand shot to his scroll. Ozpin had to know about this. His finger hovered over Ozpin's contact number, thinking of the number of ways that he could pass on the information without tipping off their enemies.
However, just as he had settled on the message, a noise rang from across the hall: Ruby's room.
Months of time spent deep undercover forced his mind to run dozens of potential scenarios in his head. There were scores of people who would wish to stumble upon his home. None of them were good.
His right had laid ready to spring Harbinger into action at a moment's notice while his other gently opened the door to insure not even a creak would sound.
What he found inside was thankfully not an assassin but his younger niece Ruby who was definitely not asleep. This in itself would not be a strange occurrence. Ruby was a young teenage and would often get swept up surfing the web late at night like teenagers do but this time was different. Because not only was she not only not in bed but fully clothed as well and had just snuck in from the window if her struggle with her beloved cape getting stuck on a branch outside was anything to go by.
Qrow would have almost been proud had she not been so focused on her botched attempt at stealth that she hadn't even noticed him standing in her doorway to begin with.
As a triumphant sigh released from Ruby's lips for finally breaking herself free, Qrow had finally decided to make himself known with an audible clearing of his throat.
The girl's spine immediately went ramrod straight. "Dad, you're supposed to still be away on a mission."
"And he still is. Try again Pipsqueak."
Ruby whip around so fast that she should have given herself whiplash upon hearing that distinctive gravely voice. "Gah! Wah-? Uncle Qrow?! You-You're home?!"
"Sup, kiddo. Mind spilling the detail?"
"Ah, uh…um…what? Well, you see…" Ruby replied intelligently, her feeling of horror for just getting caught and her excitement for her favorite (and only) Uncle's unexpected appearance mixing about as well as cookies do in a salad. Which is not at all.
Qrow, having grown accustomed to his niece's quirks wisely chose to cease the trademark Ruby Ramble before it began. "Take a second to warm up the engines there. You're not in trouble."
Qrow didn't bother answering. Besides, he had no right getting on his niece's case for potentially doing the rebellious teenage equivalent of dipping your toe in the water when had done much worse at half her age.
Instantly, Ruby's posture shifted from one laden with anxiety to brimming with confidence. She flicked her nose, crossing her arms as if she were doing a pale impersonation of him. "Oh, nothing much."
Qrow's eye rolled at the girl's blatant attempts at trying to play it cool. "Really now? Are you sure nothing happened?" He said, deciding to indulge her just this once.
Her chest swelled a little bit higher. "It's nothing big really."
"There must have been something."
"Well~, there might have been one-er two things that might have stood out tonight." She corrected herself without loosing a stride in her bravado.
"Do tell." He said hamming up his interest.
"…You know, just stopped a dust robbery and…impressedtheHeadmasterofBeaconAcademyintolettingmejoinearly." She finally blurted out, nearly squealing out the last part.
"Ozpin…invited you into Beacon?" Qrow pieced together.
"Yeah! By a full two years! I'll be taking the Bullhead to Beacon with Yang in a week! You know, at first when they arrested me, I thought I was in trouble but then they brought me cookies and, in my mind, I was like "There's no way someone bad would give me cookies" then he asked me…"
And this was his cue to tune out his niece's ramblings. She was bouncing so much with excitement that it looked like she was going to burst. A gentle smile crossed his rough visage, the way she was beaming so brightly reminded him of Summer…
…Just like Summer…
A hand found its way to the crown of Ruby's head to ruffle her hair affectionately, bringing her recollection of the night to a halt. "Good job kiddo."
"Now I can get started on being a Huntress for real!" She swooned.
"Y-Yeah." His smile taking a somewhat of a broken quality to it. "A Huntress…"
"Ozpin just what were you thinking?"
Things were unfolding too fast. He had hoped he would have been able to spare her from reality for a few more year but that wish had just been thrown out the window.
She was just a kid. Just because she had silver eyes didn't mean that you had to fast track her life into a world of hardship. He had forsaken the ways of his clan to get away from such ideas not encourage them.
That was excluding Shirou Emiya making his way into the mix.
"Ow, Uncle Qrow you're crushing my head!" Ruby cried out.
"Oops, my bad." Qrow uttered unapologetically, releasing what had become a death grip on his niece's skull.
"Geez, what's wrong with you?" She whined as she tried (and failed) to send a barrage of weak haymakers his way.
Qrow chuckled at her antics but internally he was a storm of activity.
He had already failed her mother. There was no way he was going to fail her.
Once again, his thoughts drifted to the one-armed enigma. His mind recalling every instance where two had crossed paths as well as the ones he had heard only whispers about.
Of all the tragedies that followed wherever he went.
Of the graves that had been dug in his wake.
Of the villages that had fallen shortly after his departure.
A virtual angel of death.
Shirou Emiya: the only man in Remnant who rivaled him in sowing misfortune.
Author's Notes: I've always like Cinder design wise but I the show hasn't really been doing her justice lately. Part of my inspiration for this is to flush out her character as well and what motivates her to do what she does.
Also, for those who are more curious about what Shirou looks like imagine the personification of Shirou's ideals from Heavens Feel Part II only with sprinkles of red in his hair.
Anyways I hope you guys liked it. Please let me know if there's anything you think I could improve.
See you all later.