This was originally titled Behold an Unthinkable
I hope that you enjoy and that it's not super confusing. I wasn't always sure who was saying what so I tried my best.
Thank you to my amazing beta Pidgey(TranslatorError) who made this possible and gave me the confidence to finally post this, you should check out their awesome Re:Zero works.
Also thanks to Witch Cult Translations for making this possible by translating the Pride If Ayamatsu which I used for direct character dialogues.
Subaru writhed on the floor of the decrepit trial chamber letting out small gasping hiccups as his limbs flailed around him. Burning pain like no other had taken over his whole being. Unfathomable agony roared up from deep within, searing his innards, leaving no part untouched, unmarred. It clawed at his heart affronting his resolve. Tore at his flesh, ripping and peeling his skin back layer by layer, not unlike an onion, voraciously burrowing into his innards -twisting. Shattering his already fractured mind as it whispered to him treacherous condemning thoughts.
Vomit flowed from Subaru's mouth in erratic cascading streams, the stench of bile temporarily overriding the stench of mold and dampness. 'Please stop' He begged, asked, pleaded, with all his being to something, anything, anyone, as warm tears descended down his face mixing with the crusty bile that caked his face. Semi-congealed blood trickled lazily out of wounds clinging to him like a ghoulish amalgamation.
Behold an unthinkable future
His voice whispered into his ear devoid of any discernible emotion. Subaru tensed at the familiar words, a jolt caressing his spine.
"No." He weakly rasped, reaching his arm out in an attempt to hail salvation, as if that would change anything. His devastated body began to fall prone to the constant prodding of unconsciousness vying for embrace.
Desperately, he struggled against the encroaching sensation. Thrashing wildly against the intangible force, letting out strained gurgles in a pointless attempt to cling to the waking world as it faded around him.
-Crack! That was the first thing that Subaru heard in whatever cruel machination that was forcefully being depicted this time. The second thing that registered in his mind was the thick hazy plume of smoke lingering in the air. The third thing that drew the attention of the nigh catatonic mess that was Subaru's consciousness was the pale fiendishly yellow and amber glow that ambiently bathed the whole area.
'Fire' his brain supplied.
Had Subaru had eyes they would have been egregiously bulging out as he soaked in the nightmarish scene. Flames curled ferociously as they danced and flickered letting out boisterous cackles. Ravenously, indiscriminately engulfing man and beast, beast and man, homes, shops, entire livelihoods; all just gone in a flash. Soot and ash rained down from the sky like a black blizzard, as if hell had come crashing down. It was a horribly beautiful sight to behold, an entrancing whirl of awe-inspiring colors that gorged on the cityscape below.
Panicked screams and cries of anguish permeated the air translating straight into Subaru's mind combining into a dissonant sorrowful cacophony. The howls of savage mabeasts rang out from the distance.
'I… don't- why… how'. He quickly reminisced about all of his previous deaths trying his best to mute the onslaught of murmurs in the back of his mind. 'I couldn't have known. I...- It's not my fault... I'm sorry.' But nothing came to mind that could have sparked whatever this hellish fate was.
Abruptly, without warning his world shifted. It was rather disorienting, not helped by the lack of physical form. A tugging on something intangible that was him also accompanied his changing world. It wasn't painful or anything, although it was debatable if pain was on the small list of sensations Subaru still had, just disconcerting. Sharp clipped words pierced his veil of confusion.
"—Go no further." A cold harsh voice commanded. Reinhard? 'Wrong, wrong, wrong this is all wrong.' Directly in front of him stood Reinhard, but it was all wrong, Reinhard was never angry, and here he stood glaring. No beyond glaring, there wasn't even a word for how much hatred it contained. Subaru had never once witnessed anyone hold that much sheer… emotion, and seeing it on Reinhard of all people disturbed him. So intense was the gaze that even Subaru found himself internally wincing.
"Reinhard, van, Astreaaaa..." A bemused intimately familiar voice replies smoothly. Familiar in tenor and pitch but the inflection was… 'Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop speaking, stop making me see, not me, not me.'
Against his will Subaru's vision drank up every little detail, searching for 'Something' that could indicate it was not him. With all of the power his weak self possessed he begged that he could find 'Something'. 'Something' that differentiated them, 'Something' that showed that he could never be 'that', 'Something' that proved that they were not one and the same. It had to exist, surely?
Despite being garbed in a cultist robe, with a twisted grin smeared across his face, and an engulfing deadness to his nasty eyes there was no doubt. Undoubtedly, there before him was 'Natsuki Subaru'. The body of Meili lay nestled in his arms with a- with something akin to ... fondness? 'I don't understand. Why am I seeing this, it never happened, never will.'
"It seems that I don't need to introduce myself. I don't have much to say to you, either." Reinhard intoned, jaw set in a thin line, eyes seething, brimming with hatred.
"So you were capable of hating people after all, Sword Saint!" [Subaru] proclaimed bemused, as if he had been met with divine enlightenment.
Reinhard averted his gaze downward solemnly. "It surprises me as well. I didn't think these feelings were in me."
"So you found a new you. Congratulations. Happy birthday, Reinhard." [Subaru] gave an awkward mocking bow as if to commemorate the occasion. Had there been any doubt in his mind before that this was indeed 'Natsuki Subaru', the gesture itself would have eliminated them.
"Unfortunately, today is not the day of my birth. But it will be the day of your death." Reinhard's lapse in understanding would have been amusing in any other circumstance.
[Subaru] hunched his back and jerked his arms out in a psychotic inhuman fit. "Don't make me laugh, Reinhard! Sword Saint! Sword of the Kingdom! You're a knight who protects the Kingdom of Lugnica!? Did you protect any kingdom at all!? How about telling me that!" Saliva flew from [Subaru]'s mouth as he reviled Reinhard. It almost seemed accusing as if to say 'why didn't you protect anyone, save anyone, save me?' with the way bitterness curled around his words giving them a sense of hollowness. Light from the inferno flickered in his bloodshot eyes off a thin film of water in a way reminiscent of Petelgeuse or….
Subaru wasn't even sure what he thought of hims- no this … monster. Disgust for its actions, fear of himself, all-encompassing anger, despair, and maybe beyond all of that a bit of pity. This 'other' Subaru, what possibly could have happened to incur any of this? To go beyond the point of insanity and disregard for life. Subaru didn't even want to consider even the smallest ruminations that he could ever do… any of this. 'Is this my future? Does anything I do... even matter. Do I just do more harm than good? I-' Subarus' disparaging spiral of thoughts was brought to a halt.
"This is my gift to you! A trap I set to kill you!" [Subaru] tipped his head towards Reinhard gesturing to the destroyed area surrounding them. He sounded so sure, so confident, proud even; as if this were something to be praised for, a record beaten, a point proven. How could anyone ever feel the slightest sense of accomplishment from being the cause of so much death?
All of this carnage... for that, all of it… from me, me alone.' It was… Subaru found himself at a complete lack of ideation for the word to describe it. It was something once again beyond contemplation; abhorrent, despicable, inhuman, vile, not a single one of those could come anywhere remotely close to defining it. So many innocent lives lost for an impossible terrible goal. 'Why…' He did not understand. 'Why, why, why, why' His mind lost amid an incoherent torrent. Subaru was regretfully keen to the fact that he could be reckless and rash and arrogant and made so many mistakes, but… it was always with the best intentions. 'I never intentionally tried to cause any pain or destruction.' He weakly refuted, unsure if he even believed himself.
"To kill me...?" Reinhard replied slowly, his voice trailing off to a mere whisper, seemingly lost in an abyss of thought.
"How many times! Do you think I've tried to kill you!? How many times, tens and hundreds and
thousands of times, do you think I've faced you!?" [Subaru] screeched manically, veins bulging out from his face as his nostrils flared. Trembling as his chest rose and fell haggardly, fluctuant pants and hysteric giggles escaping him. 'H- hundreds o-of t- th- thousands… on Reinhard alone.' Subaru couldn't even begin to imagine the ramifications of dying so many times. 'Would I even care if I died at that point? Would anyone?' The scene that Subaru was forced to bear witness suggested apathy, like... Roswaal-! The instant that hideous poisonous thought burst into his head Subaru wished that he could purge it from his mind. The idea of being similar to Roswaal in any way was incredibly unsettling. 'I'm not him and I never will be like him."
"I'm killing who you are as a knight. I'm dropping your ostentatious name of Sword Saint to the
earth, stomping my feet all over it, spewing spit and mucus on it!" Spite and belligerence riddled his voice as he declared his triumph. Light pooled and swirled unnaturally off his imperious eyes and his mouth curved upward into a deranged crescent.
'Why does he hate Reinhard so much, what does he get out of this, wh- Wait, wheres Ram, Rem, Beako… Emilia...' The thought slammed into Subaru like a mountain. 'Are they... ' He didn't want to finish the thought. 'Dead?' His mind continued against his will. 'They would never allow me to commit such atrocities.'
'If my savepoint was after they all died but I lived… would I blame Reinhard for not being there? But he wouldn't have even known so it shouldn't be expected of him.' So far this sadistic trial had shown him realities after he died, 'the unthinkable present', was it so beyond thought that it would also show worlds where he was the only survivor in a failed loop… 'but even if I blamed Reinhard why go this far?'
Reinhard's mouth opened as if he wished to say something then closed it, a contemplative look falling over him, his brows furrowed in furious deliberation. "All of this, only for that." He finally settles on. It was more of a sad statement of understanding than an inquiry, but [Subaru] misinterpreted or perhaps he just wanted to say regardless. Subaru himself mirrored the sentiment of begrudging acknowledgment. The why was far beyond anything he could hope to imagine or so he assumed.
"Only for that! Yeah, I did, only for that! Only for that I used the lives of everyone there was,
dropping you to the earth!"
None of this made any sense. Even if that could hypothetically explain the hatred for Reinhard it wouldn't explain witch cult affiliations. He had a witch factor according to Echidna but… it didn't seem to do anything, besides it was just something he got from killing Petelgeuse, like the loot from besting a particularly difficult adversary?
[Subaru] bent over to gently set Meili's remains on the ground briefly taking his sight of Reinhard to steal a mournful glance at her body before focusing back on Reinhard. He sharply pointed his finger at Reinhard as if all the death was on Reinhard's shoulder. Reinhard who can't help but to let out a shudder. Despite his attempts to mask the amount that [Subaru]'s words were grating into him, his discomfort and unease were palpable.
"You're a hero, Reinhard. It's not possible for me to kill you. But I can kill a hero. —This is how to kill you, Reinhard." [Subaru] wasn't wrong he slowly realized, Reinhard truly was impossible to kill, even going as far as to one shot the monstrous Puck that had utterly decimated everything under layers of frost and ice. But his reputation could be tarnished, and faith crushed. Reinhard was still a human despite his larger-than-life stature and presence, as vulnerable as anyone else to emotion and scorn.
"...Why?" [Subaru] muttered dejectedly, so feeble that it could have been mistaken for a gust of wind. It was as if all of the tenacity, all the fury, all the pride had been forcefully drained from him leaving a gaping hungry void. Feelings that had been cast aside came bursting back to fill the emptiness.
"Why," He repeated, his voice shaking unsteadily, "are you so strong?"
Tears started to well in [Subaru]'s eyes falling like dewdrops, tiny slivers of his perverted soul. Tears that spoke of all that he had been through. Of the barriers had been meticulously constructed around his bleeding heart. Empathy that had been cast away. Thousands of deaths that had slowly yet surgically torn him apart. The insanity that had festered in its absence eating at everything that had made him himself.
"Why are you so strong, that I had to let them die, to match it?" He cried voice hitching. Perhaps unwittingly [Subaru]'s hand drifts towards where Meili lies.
"You" He hissed in detest, in envy, in indignation, in desolation, in mania, in obsession.
"I wish I'd been like you. I wish I'd been honest like you, been strong enough to save everyone like you. Subaru tried to scrutinize the words for any ulterior meaning or even just a mere hint of deception or lie but found nothing, despite this he refused to believe it could be heartfelt. How could one who claimed to hold such desires find a way to justify any of this? It was completely contradictory.
I think you're enviable. I think you're contemptible." [Subaru] wailed, face contorting into a hideous snarl. Despite the anger in his tone, tears still continued to stream down his face endlessly not wanning a single bit.
"—I wanted to be you, Reinhard." That line alone probably bit harder into Subaru than anything else. Reinhard was someone who Subaru looked up to, Reinhard would have the strength to protect. Reinhard would have the compassion to save. Reinhard was everything he wanted to be. Reinhard was untouchable… or was he? The people he looked up to maybe weren't as perfect as he had once thought. Of course they weren't, and he couldn't help the fact that it was almost disappointing, almost a betrayal in a way.
"—I don't understand you." 'I don't understand you either' is what Subaru wanted to think with conviction, but the more he thought about it the less and less he could believe, everything made sense in its own twisted distorted way and that sickened him. 'I don't want to understand you, I want to hate you. I do hate you.'
Reinhard narrowed his eyes in incredulity, dismissing [Subaru]'s words as falsehoods. Face set in a hardly concealed scowl, Reinhard approached [Subaru] unarmed, not that Reinhard would ever need any form of a weapon besides his bare hands to wring the life out of him. [Subaru] stood frozen as if accepting that this was an end as Reinhard poised for a strike. Slowly, slowly, slowly, closer, closer, closer, unflinching. 'Let this be the end.'
"—You don't think it too soon to be giving up?" Came a feminine playful voice. 'How was she still alive?' Elsa could come back to life on a whim? 'Is she even truly killable?' Her blurred figure came rushing in, dagger held ready to bite into flesh, for the perfect strike on Reinhard.
Crack! The deafening sound tore through Subaru's mind temporarily drowning out the din of the flames. Metallic fragments scattered in unpredictable arcs skittering as they ping off the ground. Assassin's feet nimbly rushed to meet the ground in a whirl. [Subaru]'s face morphed into one of astonishment and disbelief. Reinhard had not only blocked the blow, with his hand no less, with enough force to shatter Elsa's blade and suffer no perceivable injuries nor had he moved an inch.
"You!" Someone's voice shouted, Subaru isn't quite sure who said it. Too caught up in watching the unrealistic scene unfold.
"You truly are outside the norm, aren't you." Elsa mused to herself clearly pleased.
"Apparently I didn't die. Though in this situation, it feels that I've arrived to visit death again." Elsa replied in a sing-song voice devoid of any of the emotions one in a situation such as hers would be presumed to take on.
"Elsa..." [Subaru] croaked hesitantly, confused.
Elsa's eyes darted over to Meili's corpse widening minutely. "Then Meili is dead. Her poor sister." She murmured somewhat lamentfully, dipping her head as if to offer condolences. Turning to face Reinhard Elsa hardened her expression.
"It seems you're my sister's enemy as well. Shall we dance?" Thinly veiled eagerness oozed from her sultry voice without even a vestige of melancholy.
"You've already lost your weapon. And do you understand who exactly you are protecting?" Reinhard tried, confused in a vain attempt to dissuade Elsa. Honestly, Subaru himself was equally unable to determine what motivated Elsa. It was obvious who would win in this situation and yet... From Subaru's preconceived notions, to Elsa murder was a job, no more no less. Reserved from personal feeling or input, there was no reason for her to stay and fight. Loyalty was something that he assumed Elsa would not… no, should not be familiar with.
Elsa cocked her head to the side a bit, "Difficult subjects aren't my favorite. I do the things I want to do. This man behind me lets me do what I want to do. That makes him a prized customer." She explained a bit condescendingly, as if it was the most obvious thing.
"This will be the last chance for it. I had fun. It was wonderful." Her voice carried through the air joyously, somehow truly content in the face of death and without a way to change it?
"Elsa! I..!" [Subaru] stammered lacking any sort of composure. Whatever he was intending to say, be it a farewell or platitude will remain unknown as Elsa interrupted him. Subaru wasn't sure if it was intended to be merciful, saving [Subaru] from stumbling over words while giving her own form of acceptance, or if he was reading too far into it.
"Farewell." Fluidly she launched herself at Reinhard once more. Soaring through the air graceful as a swan with the pinpoint precision of a hawk. Even bathed in blood and without a blade, Elsa still held a predatory elegance, could still probably kill him if she desired. 'How the hell am I supposed to defeat her, it's not possible.'
"—Fuck!" Subaru's attention is drawn off of the ongoing one-sided fight and back onto [Subaru], who is currently sprinting barely managing to keep his balance, away from Reinhard and Elsa, away from death. 'Disgusting coward.'
Wails echo around him as buildings come crashing down causing embers to violently explode into the air. The sky lay ablaze illuminated by hundreds of thousands of flashing lights, vibrant hues ranging from golds to crimson. Contrasting against the thick stark black layer that coated the ground and sullied the air, blurring the world into a hazy silhouette.
[Subaru] seemed to wander aimlessly, lost amid the blaze he himself had caused. A small stream of his footprints marked by indentations upon the ash winded behind him. The smoke must have finally begun to take a hold of him as his breathing grew more and more labored and his jog slowed to a walk. A contemplative look fell over his face as if reminiscing while preparing to greet death.
The smoke around [Subaru] seemed to darken almost if -a freakishly familiar black pelted white-maned form streaked out of the stagnant gloom of smoke bounding towards [Subaru]. 'Meili's mabeast, undoubtedly the mabeast would win a fight.' Being mauled to death by the mabeast generally would be a fate that he wished upon no one. Yet Subaru felt something that could be called eagerness pulsating, singing in him, yearning for it's jaws to clamp down on [Subaru]'s sickly body.
'This is wrong.' a small part of himself whispered, but another shameful part of him crowed for [Subaru]'s painful death. To see the one he so despised be torn apart viciously was a tantalizing fantasy, and that was what disturbed him the most. He was horrified; wanted to be more horrified, simultaneously transfixed and sickened at his own thoughts and desires. 'Surely it's fair to wish that. Surely there's no harm to come of it. Surely I can't be faulted for thinking this. Surely… Surely… Surely…' His brain clamored in an attempt to rationalize.
"Y-you're…" [Subaru]'s voice wavered, steeped with fatigue. His whole body looked about ready to give out as he wobbled precariously, stumbling.
"—σσσσ" A guttural grief-stricken howl erupts from the bulky mabeast, which delicately with haste, scooped up [Subaru] before he can fall. The lionlike mabeast jerked its fearsome maw up flinging [Subaru] onto its matted fur. [Subaru] grabbed onto the mabeast digging his blistered fingers into its muscular sides as it carried him through the smoldering carcass of the capital.
"You're... but Meili's… already dead…." [Subaru] stuttered at a loss for words as if unable to comprehend why the mabeast was trying to save him. Subaru himself was equally surprised; he didn't think that mabeasts had the capacity for any true emotions. To be honest, he almost pitied [Subaru]. It seemed even he too had people that cared for him, to the degree that they would willingly die for him, and [Subaru] was incapable of understanding the 'why'. Incapable of requiting the sentiment seeing them as little more than pawns.
'And you're any different?' The thought bounced around in his mind. 'Even Roswaal could see it, even Garfiel. You stopped seeing them as people in some ways, whether you like to admit it or not.' 'Just stop…'
"Please, find her. She has... to be somewhere..." He pleaded with the mabeast, barely lucid. It sounded more as if he was trying to convince himself of the fact.
The mabeast's steady footfalls pounded off the ground rhythmically while [Subaru] fell in and out of consciousness lulled by the faithful strides of the mabeast.
'Who is he talking about? Could it be… who else would it be? Emilia.' He desperately hoped that she was still alive, that she was safe. Far, far away from… [Subaru]. But he highly doubted that was the case, why ask unless he was certain she was here. Unless it was out of delirium, [Subaru] was clearly insane and his perception warped, maybe it didn't even refer to Emilia. But who else would [Subaru], a member of the witches cult be seeking?
I will finish this, I'm not sure how long it will take considering I have been working on this on and off since late October and this is all I have written, how some people write so fast is beyond me. Feedback and criticism is highly welcome.
Originally this was going to be the reverse with Canon Subaru in Ayamatsu along with actual Ayamatsu Suabru but I struggle with writing multichapter and am not very confident in if I could write that, so in the end I settled on just doing this. Watching the show fics definitely had a lot of influence on this though along with a lot of other peoples wonderful fics.
Sorry if anything feels weird I don't really write much.