Hey, Aiden. Remember when I said this was just going to be a thought experiment and nothing more?
The 13.5th Labor
or: 2,500 YEARS WORTH OF IMAGINARY SEMEN
Saber woke to the feeling of soft bed sheets caressing every inch of her body. In the corners of her sight a canopy ceiling of cloth hung down at all sides. Dying embers in the fireplace filled the room with a slightly smoky scent. Gentle light streamed in through cracks in the curtains. For a moment she was convinced that she was back in her own bedchamber in Camelot.
Reality interfered with nostalgia as soon as this thought crossed her mind. Her quarters had been fine, for all of the land's troubles, but not anything this luxurious. The feel of it was different. Wrong. The bedroom looked nothing like her own. Not like the one she had back then, or like the one she currently had elsewhere. The sense of class that this place had was different from anything she registered as having once been hers.
She shifted in the fabric. The soft material brushed her skin. It brushed all of her skin.
That was when it hit Saber.
She apprehensively lifted the covers to get a better look. She sought confirmation, but prayed for denial.
That was when it really hit Saber.
Saber woke up in a strange bed. Completely nude.
There were no words.
She couldn't help it. She quickly scanned her surroundings. She absolutely had to gather her thoughts, to divine what she could of this situation. To get the answers that she sought, to somehow deny the validity of the tumult of half-baked memories that rattled around in her addled perception.
She immediately spotted one Fujimura Taiga next to her, in a state of slack-jawed hibernation. Her drool flowed freely like the River Mion. It seeped into the sheets she snoozed on. The woman was practically sleeping on a waterbed.
Saber gulped. She shifted, to move slightly away from the encroaching puddle. She resisted the temptation to close her nose. Against her better judgment she likewise lifted the covers on Taiga in the search for answers.
Taiga was in an equal state of undress.
Saber gasped. Her gaze did not linger on the tiger in the buff. The blankets were back down, to cover that which should remain covered. To hide from sight how Taiga's heaving, full, matronly bosom rose and fell in time with the rhythm of her breaths.
Saber had to look again. To make sure that this was part of her reality.
The only difference between her second viewing and the first? The tips were harder now than they had been before.
Saber instantly regretted this. The covers were well and truly put back, hopefully to never be moved by her hand again. She shivered. Dare she turn around? Dare she look at what else lay in wait in this room?
Whether she wanted to or not, Saber had to see.
Saber was greeted by the image of the three female members of the track and field club of her Master's high school, all angelically draped over each other and sound asleep. It did not take a wild imagination to confirm that they were likely as clothed as she was. Their sensually bare shoulders, their fetchingly naked collarbones were all the confirmation she needed.
Panic began to set it. Saber kept her mouth shut well and tight. Her hand was over her lips. If she relaxed any tension in her jaw muscles, she'd surely erupt out into a wordless scream.
To her abject horror, her fingertips felt something crusted-
No. Stop. No.
Saber removed herself quickly, smoothly, from the easily bigger than king-size bed. She thanked it for its merciful suspension as she delicately crawled away on all fours. She cursed herself, upon noticing this, for immediately equating it with something that could not have possibly happened that she did not want to have happen especially when it had supposedly not had happened.
Past the canopy and into the wider room she went. It was meant to act as a bedroom, but it was closer in size to a drawing room, a parlor. There were many chairs and tables. Once neatly arranged as she remembered, all were piled high with empty plates and bottles and flagons and flasks and kegs. Now that she was all too aware of her present surroundings, Saber noticed that smoke was not the only smell in the air.
It explained why Taiga's breath smelled like a liquor store after an earthquake. The answer disturbed her, but an answer it remained. Her head throbbed the more she thought about it. About the copious wines the town's various local eateries had to offer, about the enticing, dangerous homebrew spirits and ales of this place that the journey had led them to-
Booze and food. Booze and food were the chief suspects in this whole thing. Somehow, one thing had led to another, and from there-
"Clothes? Clothes? Clothes? Clothes?" she muttered a rosary's worth of this one word prayer of hope to herself.
This place was such a mess! Could she even find her outfit amid it all?
Saber did. And it needed dry cleaning. She couldn't even hold on to it. It broke her heart to let it fall back down to the floor. It was an undeniable loss. But, she needed to clothe herself.
Desperate, Saber went so far as to carefully, but urgently open the closet. It was well maintained. It hardly creaked as its doors moved. In contrast to the room it was in, the closet was more organized. Every thing had a hanger, a place of its own. She took a flannel nightgown, a creamy orange piece. An elegant, calligraphic "E" was emblazoned on its right breast in raised lettering.
She realized what she meant to do. She rejected it. No. If she accepted anything from this place she'd become like Persephone. Even though it might have been too late for her to take this stance. What had been done could not be undone. That changed nothing – to accept anything here, without the excuse of influence, would be to lose.
She denied it all in the way she knew how to: she had called her battledress. With it, she sealed away the most troubling of thoughts. It was the first successful step, but the victory she found in it was still a Pyrrhic one.
Guilt on her face, she looked to the other women. She left the room as quietly as she could.
The halls, on the other hand, she instantly recognized. She was not surprised. After all, hadn't she only been here the night before?
"It was hardly even my fault!" What wasn't your fault, Saber? What do you mean that you say?
Saber instantly regretted the dishonesty and vagueness of her words the moment she said them. She thought it unsightly. She had to keep going. Had to put this behind her. Had to do something.
Saber went to try the first door that she saw. She opened the door and came face to face with the world at large. It responded aggressively to her presence.
Saber shut the door before it could escape. Saber shut the door before it could latch on to her and drag her into its realm. The mass, and others like it, had lunged at her, and the door did not even shake from what should have been the impact. It remained still.
Curiosity got the better of her. She opened the door again. What she was faced with was a world of possibilities. All of them vile.
She closed the door for good.
"It is like a worse land Narnia out there, and there are by necessity powerful, sophisticated magics on these doors to keep these spaces separate," Saber noted, impressed professionally and instinctually on edge at the same time by this development, "I can see why Illyasviel would be so upset with Rin over this."
It had taken the attention and predations of otherworldly and annoying tenants, but that, evidently, was what was needed for Saber to acknowledge her troublesome situation. At least, in some part.
She was indeed in the Einzbern Castle. A place that she had spent the night. With others.
She had gotten caught up in paces not her own, and from there things spiraled the way they had, the way that she did not want to remember that they had.
"Something went wrong, and I became…distracted," she admitted, as she made her way to a different floor in an introspective daze, "How could I have let that happen when I initially did it all for- ?!"
Shirou. Her Master. Who was at the end of the hallway. Looking at ease. Entering a room like he knew exactly where he was going. With a platter of a traditional continental breakfast. Wearing a pair of silk pajamas with that "E" right on the very front.
That did it. That was what set the King of Knights off.
Saber called the wind. She meant to bring the hammer down. What came down instead was something else entirely. A firm, gentle hand placed itself on her shoulder. The familiarity of the touch stopped Saber cold.
She craned her head to look at who it was, though there was no need for her to confirm their identity. Saber was face to face with Berserker, his expression neutral but somber. He also happened to be garbed in pajamas identical to her Master's, same color, same style, the one and only obvious difference being that his were obviously fitted for his magnificent size. He said nothing, as expected of Berserker. He merely, wordlessly, shook his head.
In his other hand, he held a multi-tiered tray with a spread that surpassed the more modest, intimate one Shirou had carried.
Saber no longer tried to deny anything now. Now there was only acceptance. There was no way she was completely satisfied with this, ultimately caused by a usually responsible schoolteacher who had slipped out of that character and into her usual base, lackadaisical self, even with several students in tow at the time. All of that karaoke and restaurant hopping and the rampant cajolery. It was a far cry from what she had set out to do. This was a defeat she acknowledged.
She had lost the battle. But, Saber realized that this didn't mean that she hadn't enjoyed it in spite of that. Enjoyed all of it, to different degrees.
"Very well, then. It is just about time for the others to awaken," she sighed as she wiped sweat from her face and tried not to remember things too vividly.
She'd let it go for now.
- ] | [ -
"High definition camcorder with telephoto lens to capture the evidence?"
"High definition camcorder with telephoto lens to capture the evidence."
Archer and Lancer bumped fists together.
"Hunting falcon of the digital recording world and a weapon against the concept of privacy, this is. Though it may just be an empty imitation, the data it is filled with is very much real."
"Ah hell yeah. When're we gonna watch it?"
" 'We'? As in, together? Not in a thousand years."
"So I can put you down for a millennium and some change, then? Great. That'd be one time capsule I wouldn't mind unearthin'."
"That's not even the issue here!"
"What kinda issue is there to be had? Don't you nips bathe together in public?"
"Do apples and oranges taste the same to you, or are you just a lecherous dolt and not an even bigger freak than I originally thought?"
"Says the guy who was adept enough to set up surveillance in the castle undetected. Should've been an Assassin with those twinkletoes."
"That is not natural talent, that's my experience at work."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. So when do make pie out of the fruits of your labors and check out the skin flick?"
"We're not watching it together, for the last time! I'll make several copies of it and you can have your own."
"If I'm caught with porn in a church, I'll definitely be crucified!"
"Then die a martyr's death and prepare to be canonized, St. Setanta."
"I'll remain a dirty pagan, thank ye very much! My raggedy-ass camping TV doesn't have a disc drive. Let's just go to your joint and use whatever rig you've got sitting around, Mr. Darling of the Pawn Shops. Forget Faker, you're a Counterfeiter."
"Have you ever won an argument in your life?"
"Fighting's a way of communicatin', so yeah, that happened all the time."
"…So this is what the world was like before standardized education was put into practice."
"Whatever, I ain't backin' out just because you pulled out some shield of no-sell on me this time, man. I'm gettin' my cut one way 'r the other."
What a great many things these two could accomplish together if their partnership were to last.
And that's when I slit my authorial wrists. This is as canon as you want it to be to Thirteenth Labor's continuity.
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