Rin smiled to herself as she lay in bed, her head resting over Shirou's heart as she listened to its steady beating. On the man's other side was Saber, her sleeping face making her look like a cute little kitten rather than the proud lion she usually was. Though Shirou Emiya's face was just as stupid asleep as it was awake, his feature's relaxed and his mouth hanging open slightly.
The two of them returned to their small apartment in England after a rough job in South America and the three of them had celebrated the return with a hard night of 'exchanging prana' until the two returning heroes were conked out. Rin was the last one still awake, enjoying the after glow and running her hand on Shirou's chest.
However, the mood was ruined for her somewhat when she found a new scar on Shirou's body. "You idiot..." She whispered as she traced over the rough line that was only a few centimeters below her bottom rib. "I told you to be careful."
"Sorry..." Shirou mumbled in his sleep, seeming to sense her disapproval. Rin closed her eyes and forced herself to retract her arm away from the new scar, only for to feel more than a dozen older ones just like it. Even with Avalon and Saber with him, he still ended up with scars. The injures he had suffered over the last few years, ever since he had followed in his father's footsteps and become a mercenary.
It ate Rin up inside, knowing that Shirou and Saber, the people she loved the most in the world and felt like she couldn't live without, put themselves into such situations and that she could provide little but support to help them. Powerful of a Magus as she was, she was not as well suited to combat as the two of them were, and on the battlefield she would have gotten in the way.
Saber might have been a servant during the Holy Grail War, but she no longer had the Grail supplying her with prana, nor the copy of her Noble Phantasm, Excalibur that the Grail had provide for her. However, she was still far stronger, faster and more skilled than anyone else that Rin had ever met, and even if the Caliburn at her side was only a copy, it was made with the exact same production method that Merlin used to create the original and was nearly its equal.
Shirou Emiya possessed a reality marble. Something that most believed was impossible for a human to obtain. A form of magecraft that was associated with divine spirits and the old gods from before the end of the Age of the Gods. The power to create a movable bounded field within ones own body, with rules defined by their own perception for the world, and the ability to manifest that bounded field over the world around them. He was a fool who could go toe to toe with some full powered Servants and still walk away. He would walk away limping with half the bones in his body broken, a concussion and having been bled dry of Od, life force and most likely even his actual blood, but it was still far better than any mortal man had any right to do.
The two of them were easily in the strongest fighters currently in existence. Powerful as Rin was, she would be relegated to a supporting role the moment the Phantasmic Beast or Dead Apostle of the hour appeared. That was how it was supposed to be, a Master has no place in a battle of Servants.
It hurt her, every time she saw them go and had to wonder to herself if they would ever come back. If this would be the battle that put too much strain on Saber's body and drained away the prana, causing her to vanish for their lives. Or if Shirou would take a blow that even he couldn't bound back from. Or worse, if the enemy was such a threat to humanity... that Shirou would accept a deal from Alaya, and become her Counter Guardian. The bleak fate of Archer was still fresh in Rin's mind, even if it had been years since she had first seen it in the Dream Cycle.
However, recently another thought had started to seep its way into her mind, one that she couldn't shake. One that cut her down to her core.
'Is it my fault?'
After the Holy Grail War, Rin had moved the group to the Clock Tower in England in order to pursue her own ambitions. It didn't accrue to her until later that this was the first real step down the dark road that Archer had walked. She was the one who had brought Shirou Emiya out of being some hermit who lived in the mystic backwaters of Japan and into the real world of the Magi.
It was only because of this that they were in contact with the enforcers. That the three of them would often get wrapped up in efforts to hunt dangerous individuals for the sake of humanity.
It was her fault. It was because of her that her stupidly heroic 'Ally of Justice' and her adorably valiant 'King of Knights' were constantly putting themselves into harms way. That they would one day not just lose their lives, but also damn their own souls.
Rin sighed to herself. She wouldn't be sleeping well this night, not with the miserable thoughts in her head. So she got up from bed and slipped into a bathrobe before slipping out into the kitchen to get some sleeping pills and a glass of warm milk.
Pouring the milk into a coffee cup and stuck it into the microwave before starting to rummage through the medicine draw for the sleeping pills. "Having a hard time sleeping?" Rin froze, hearing the polite voice behind her. Taking a deep breath, she turned around, holding her bathrobe closed as she prayed to a god she didn't believe in that she had just been hearing things because of the stress and that 'that' person wasn't there.
No such luck.
Sitting at the kitchen table with an open beer can was Zelretch, the Wizard Marshall, and since her teacher was there, trouble was not far behind. The old man may have looked like a relatively innocent gentleman dressed in what one would expect to see at a formal dinner, but the appearance of the vampiric asshole was rarely good for anyone.
To be far, it wasn't as though Zelretch was evil. However, the several thousands of years of being an unstoppable Magician, along with several millions of hours of various forms of fiction novels, anime, movies and porn, had given him a rather distorted view of what was acceptable behavior. He thought that people should be thanking him for using the power of the "Operation of Parallel Worlds" to send them to wondrous places.
It was hard to decide whether her meeting with the man had been the best or worst thing that had ever happened to Rin. On one hand he provided her with knowledge that you couldn't find anywhere else, but on the other hand the way he treated his favorite people was worse than how he treated his worst enemies. At least his enemies would be free of him through dead.
At the end of the Holy Grail War, after she had first came to the Clock Tower, Rin had used Shirou's Unlimited Blade Works in order to copy the Wizard Marshall's famed Jeweled Sword, a ritualistic dagger made entirely out of an artifical crystal structure that could not accrue in nature. The info she had gained from that copy of the blade had jumped her own research forward by entire decades. However, when she actually used the knowledge she had gained in a battle to assist Shirou and Saber, it gained her the eye of the old man. Though surprisingly enough, rather than killing her for trying to steal from him, he took her own as an apprentice.
Sometime she wondered if it would have been better to just be dead.
"What are you doing here?" Rin asked bluntly.
"I just wanted to have a little talk with my little pupil." Zelretch said pleasantly.
"And you didn't wait until tomorrow, why?"
"There is something morbidly satisfying about listening to people fucking." Zelretch said with a smile, watching as Rin's eyebrow twitched in frustration. "Now how about you tell me what has been bugging you. You've been distracted of late. If you don't speed yourself up, you might never be able to make use of the Kaleidoscope." Rin didn't say anything, she just glared at the man. "Fine then. Even if you don't confide in my in this dimension, there still exists one in which you did."
"Something makes me doubt that there is any dimension in which I felt like confiding in You would be a good idea." Rin said with a huff of disgust as the microwave binged and she got her warm milk.
"Archer's future." Zelretch said simply, his face going flat. Rin's body stiffened slightly as she brought the cup to her lips, but she tried to play it off as if nothing happened.
"You think I'm concerned with that? Shirou isn't Archer. Archer's was from a different timeline. You should know better than anyone that there is no such thing as being predetermined. Infinite worlds, infinite possibilities." Rin said, trying to convince herself of it more than anyone else.
"Infinite isn't the same thing as unlimited. You might be able to pull marbles from the bag an infinite number of times, but that doesn't help you if someone is feeding you only black marbles." Zelretch said, his red eyes focused on Rin. "Alaya never cared about playing fair. So long as it can have its perfect Counter Guardian, it doesn't mind arranging events so that things play out its way."
"Alaya's been controlling everything. Archer and Saber's summonings, me saving Shirou's life, how things played out throughout the war, me deciding to go to the Clock Tower and taking them with me, how much of it was free will or chance and how much of it did Alaya make me do?" Rin asked the old man, not carrying to deny it any longer. "Is Shirou really going to become Archer, no matter what I try?"
"How much of Shirou's compalsions is because of his own free will and how much of it is the Counter Force trying to press him towards his hill of swords? You are fighting against Alaya. Did you expect it would be easy?" Zelretch said taking a drink from his beer. "However, there is a way to make sure that Alaya doesn't reach him."
Rin's eyes widened. How was it possible to escape Alaya? Even if you left the dimension you couldn't escape it. Alaya and Gaia existed in every world that Rin as far was Rin knew, and they were connected so the Alaya in the other worlds knew about everything that their Alaya knew about. How did someone escape something that was everywhere?
She stared at the old man, watching for him to say something more, though he seemed to be waiting for her to ask. Finally, when she couldn't take it anymore and simply came out and asked it. "How?"
Zelretch smiled at her. "Tell me student, what is Alaya?"
"Alaya is humanities will to survive." Rin said, a little annoyed that the old man wasn't choosing to be forthcoming with his information.
"Rin, give me more than that pitiful answer." Zelretch said with a scowl. "What is Alaya? Why does it exist?"
Rin frowned, considering the question. "Alaya pattern within the Mana that exists within this space, a part of Gaia. The pattern was created because life force and Prana are connected and effect one and other. Gaia was born from this connection. Alaya exists as both part of and separate from Gaia because mankind is the dominate force on Earth, with the greatest potential for fueling the Mana that makes up Gaia, however mankind is a force of change, which goes against Gaia."
"Correct. Mostly anyways." Zelretch said with a little bit of approval. "Now for the final question. When did Alaya come into existence? When did Alaya divide itself from the rest of Gaia?"
"When?" Rin repeated, not really understanding the question. Gaia had existed since life began. But when did Alaya come into existence. "Well, I suppose it would be when mankind became the dominate mystical force on Earth." She said with a frown. "So, after the Age of the Gods came to a close."
"Exactly." Zelretch said smiling more than Rin was comfortable with. She dropped her cup to the floor and it shattered as she saw the old man pulling the Jeweled Sword out of thin air. Its power fluided the room as a magic square appeared around them. "So tell me, if there was a world where the Age of Gods never ended, would Alaya be there!?"
The door to the bedroom was thrown open and Shirou and Saber rushed into the room, swords ready to confront the massive burst of mystic energy,both of them still naked. "Zelretch!" Shirou shouted, looking in surprise at the old man.
"Lets find out!" Zelretch shouted before finishing his spell, throwing the three's souls out of the world. "Never say I didn't do anything for my students." Zelretch said, happy to have done his good deed for the day. "Hope they don't mind having to grow up all over again."
Another reincarnation story, this one involving Shirou, Rin and Saber.
Rin will be the niece of Ajuka Beelzebub, making her part of the Astaroth house.
Shirou will be the son of Azazel, a half blooded Fallen Angel.
Saber will be human and taken in by the church to be trained as a Exorcist.
Though both Saber and Shirou will join Rin's Peerage.