This time, Tohsaka Rin had a different catalyst, and thusly summoned a different Servant.
Things proceeded more or less normally right up until the point where Emiya Shirou stumbled into a summoning circle.
Avalon: one catalyst.
The entirety of Emiya Shirou's body: another catalyst.
A figurative coinflip was made, and unfortunately for several members of the Holy Grail War, it landed on tails.
After deflecting Lancer's attack, Archer took one look at his new Master and sighed. "Wonderful."
(Archer later died of mana depletion, because there was no way in hell that Shirou was restoring it for him. Absolutely. None.)
This time, Archer said something a touch different to his new Master after his rough summoning.
He usually said things a bit differently after every summoning, so that wasn't new. Only now he varied it enough that instead of the typical order of obedience he received, Rin's command was "don't lie to me you bastard…!"
"So, which heroic spirit are you?" she asked, when she'd finally calmed down.
"I don't- grrk-!" Archer valiantly struggled with the Command Spell for a few moments, until he was forced to admit defeat. "…E… Emiya… Sh-Shirou."
Well, he thought, that could have gone better.
This time, through not stupidly staying after school when there had been crime sprees in the area, Emiya Shirou never even became a Master.
Which was good, since Shirou not knowing his own abilities meant that Shirou couldn't save anyone, which meant that he couldn't kill anyone in the process, which meant that he wouldn't become Archer.
It also meant that Archer had absolutely nothing to distract himself from his Master with. If consuming desires to end one's own existence were good for anything, they reduced the time one spent acting like a lovesick teenager.
Really, that was just sad.
This time, they had an unexpected lead on Caster's identity.
"I've been invited to Ryudoji - I'll try to find out who Caster is while I'm there," Shirou told them.
"Shouldn't you bring Saber along?" Rin asked. "Going to Ryudoji unprotected is suicide."
"I'll be fine! And anyway, I just really, really can't bring Saber along. I mean, not for this…"
Archer took note of Shirou's rampant blush and put two and two together.
"…Rin, we'll have to break our alliance with them. I don't think I can look at him without being assaulted with unwanted mental images."
This time, Archer did his research and ended up torn on whether to regret it or not.
Pros of looking up how other timelines had gone on the internet:
-Able to plan strategies days ahead of time.
-Ego boost from the hordes of fangirls (and fanboys), and from the fact that his personal horde was bigger than Shirou's or Lancer's.
Cons of looking up how other timelines had gone on the internet:
-Increasingly difficult to avoid raising suspicions.
-Too traumatized by porn of himself and his younger self to even think of coming within a mile of said younger self.
This time, Archer ran into one Matou Sakura.
"…Hello," he said cautiously, slightly unsettled by her pleasant smile for reasons he couldn't explain. "Do I know you?"
"No, you don't," she replied cheerfully. "So, I understand you've been trying to kill sempai?"
"Ah," he said, understanding and desperately praying that she wouldn't see through his blatant lie and crush him like a bug. "No, I'm afraid I don't know who you're talking about. You've mistaken me for someone el…se…"
Red markings crept up her neck and collarbone. Her eyes narrowed a bit, but her smile didn't fade.
Archer swallowed hard.
Archer took stock of the situation.
Shirou was likely to arrive sometime tomorrow, probably with Saber and Lancer in tow. Shinji was likely to summon Gilgamesh if Archer didn't give into his demands. Archer could not defeat both Gilgamesh and Shirou, particularly not without a Master to supply him with mana.
…If he defeated Shirou, it was still unlikely that he would end his own existence, and Shinji's demands were...
This time, there was a little more of his old self left in him than he would have liked to admit.
"Tch… well, I always wanted to fight Gilgamesh once."
Archer had a deeply ingrained sense of honor and fair play. He rarely listened to it, but it came back to bite him at the worst times.
This time was one of them.
Look, it said, in a voice that sounded like an even more irritating Shirou, as impossible as that was. You can either make tender love to her like I know you want to - like she wants you to - or you can go through with your killing-yourself plan that might not even work. You can't do both.
Archer twitched. And I've chosen the plan. You don't have to remind me.
But I don't think you understand what you're giving up here. This is Rin we're talking about. The one you hopelessly adore? The one you would die for? The, incidentally, drop-dead gorgeous one?
I thought you were supposed to be my sense of honor, not my libido.
Your libido is too busy staring at Rin's legs to talk to you about them. Anyway, think a little before you betray the only person who makes your hell of a life worth living.
Irritating voices that sounded like younger selves should not be allowed to make good points.
The upside of not needing sleep was that you had plenty of time for deep thinking.
Archer thought about what he intended to do with his time in this world. He thought about his plan to kill his younger self and thereby end his own torment. He thought about the low chance of his plan actually succeeding.
Mostly, he thought about the girl sleeping soundly beside him, the one he'd sworn to protect, the one who would be absolutely devastated if he went through with it. The one person he least wanted to hurt.
This time, there was no contest.