Disclaimer: I don't own Fate/Stay Night. All I own is the DVD collection and the two published volumes of English manga.

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Rewind

Gilgamesh studied his new Master through narrow red eyes as the young woman lifted the teacup to her lips, taking a long drink. The whole time she never tore her gaze from his, her light blue eyes challenging him to judge her as he saw fit. He smirked.

His new Master, Tohsaka Rin. What a surprise that had been. Almost as bad as being killed in the last Grail War; nothing quite beat waking up in a summoning circle and looking right into the face of the daughter of the man he'd betrayed ten years ago.

After a moment, Rin lowered her cup to its platter with a soft clink. "So you're in the Archer class, correct?" Her voice was soft, with a challenging edge to it as they waged their silent battle of wills.

"That is the class name I have been assigned, yes." Gilgamesh slid his hands into his pockets, having chosen to forgo his usual golden armor for his more comfortable modern day appearance. "Though I doubt that's what you really want to ask me, am I right?"

Rin narrowed her eyes. "If I ask you, will you tell me?" She took another sip from her cup, steadily holding his gaze.

Gilgamesh stared at her for a moment; he laughed, running a hand through his hair. "You're a stubborn one," he said at last, his laughter fading away into soft chuckles. "Very stubborn. I like that. I have a feeling we'll work very well together." He smiled at her calmly. "My true name is Gilgamesh. That is what you wanted to know, I assume."

"Yes." Now she smiled as she lowered her cup again. "Thank you for telling me. I didn't want to waste a Command Seal for something as trivial as this." She frowned contemplatively, studying the cup in her hand.

"Rin?"

"Well, first things first." She stood up, brushing off her skirt. "If we're going to be working together, you'll need to learn how to make my tea properly. This stuff you gave me is absolutely revolting."

Gilgamesh sighed.

Oh yes, he mused. Very stubborn, indeed.

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Saber stumbled through the charred remains of the village, her armor stained black and red with soot and blood. Her whole body trembled with exhaustion, her eyes dull and staring ahead at nothing as rain pounded down on her from the sky, her armor covered in cuts and slashes.

Kiritsugu had destroyed the Holy Grail, using his last Command Seal to make a double wish. The first one had been carried out flawlessly. The second one was currently being carried out by Saber—to continue on in this time, to live on until the end of the Fifth Holy Grail War, in which case she could fade away if she so chose it. She didn't understand why he'd made that particular wish, and she didn't care.

What's the point of living on in this time? Exhausted, she came to an absolute standstill, tilting her head to look up at the sky. The Grail has been lost for the time being. I cannot have my wish fulfilled. I have no reason to stay here, even if Kiritsugu wished it. Not that she could ask him his reasons for doing it—he was dead, having sacrificed his life to destroy the Grail for the time being.

A soft whimper made her look down at her feet; she blinked several times, and her eyes widened slightly. "What?" she whispered.

The little orange-haired boy gazed up at her, looking as lost and alone as she felt. Somehow her feet had guided her to his side as he lay there on his back; he blinked, coughed, and his eyes cleared. Staring at him, Saber slowly sank to her knees.

A survivor… from the fire? Kiritsugu, did you have something to do with this…?

Her hand trembling slightly, Saber lifted her arm and gently offered it to the boy, not sure what she was expecting him to do; he gazed at her for a moment before he mimicked her action, his tiny, soot-covered hand coming to rest in hers, feeling fragile and warm in comparison to the cool armor that still covered her body.

His fingers curled against hers, and that did it.

Her heart overflowing with emotion, Saber pulled the boy into her arms and hugged him tightly to her chest, burying her face into his hair as the tears came. The boy's arms slid around her neck instinctively as she lurched to her feet again and began walking, now searching for a way out of the hellhole they were both trapped in.

The boy rested the palm of his hand against Saber's chest, feeling her heartbeat. He sighed softly with contentment and closed his eyes, drifting to sleep. He'd been so tired, but he wasn't alone anymore. He could rest now; he knew, somewhere deep inside, that Saber would take care of him.

They'd both found a reason to continue living.

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Young Tohsaka Rin watched the two boys play outside from her tall room window before sighing and looking away, leafing through the pages of her book. The boys had been coming for awhile now; a little orange-haired one named Emiya Shirou and his best friend, Ryudou Issei, had started playing in the woods around her house about a week ago. She recognized them both from school, and so far had successfully resisted the urge to go out and play with them.

She had a War to study for, after all.

Rin hesitated, looking out the window. Several times the boys had invited her to come out and play, and each time she'd turned them down. Not that she didn't want to—honestly, she was a little lonely, and Issei and Shirou always seemed to have a lot of fun. But if she wanted to be the best magus she could be by the time the next Holy Grail War started, she needed to study as much as possible. Nodding internally to herself, she turned back to her book.

Only to have her concentration abruptly shattered as something knocked against her window. Surprised, she looked up again and found herself gazing into Shirou's eyes; the boy grinned and waved at her, balancing himself on a wobbly old ladder that he and Issei must have pulled out of the old storage shed in the woods. With wide eyes she bolted across the room and quickly unlocked the window. "What do you think you're doing?!" she hissed.

"Wanna play?" Shirou grinned at her, offering his hand. "It's really nice outside today. I bet it'd be more fun than being stuck inside in a dark room."

Rin scowled at him. "I'm studying, you idiot. It's important."

"Well, yeah, but you always study. That can't be good for your health." Shirou shrugged. "At least, that's what Fuji-nee always says."

Rin blinked, not sure how she was supposed to respond to that. She put her hands on her hips. "Why do you want me to come out, anyway? You and Ryudou-kun seem to have lots of fun without me."

Shirou frowned contemplatively, rubbing his chin as he thought this over; after a moment, he shrugged, smiled, and offered her his hand. "We do," he admitted, "but you always look so lonely. You should have some fun, too."

Rin hesitated. Don't do it, her inner voice warned. If you do it you won't be studying, and if you aren't studying you won't become the best magus you can be. Turn them both down.

She closed her eyes, inhaled deeply. But what's the point of being the best magus I can be if I'm always lonely?

She opened her eyes and grinned, resting her hand in Shirou's and scrambling out the window with his help.

In the years to come, Issei and Shirou would be Rin's best friends and brothers rolled into one. But for now she was young, and all she wanted was to have a little fun.

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Matou Sakura watched the blue-haired man calmly eat the meal she'd prepared for him, completely concentrated on his task. She swallowed a ball of nerves and smoothed her apron a bit, turning back to the sink. "Would you like some tea, Assassin?" she asked, glancing briefly over her shoulder at him for confirmation.

Assassin, or Sasaki Kojiro as his true name was, glanced up at her briefly before his lips quirked upwards in a smile. "Yes please, Master," he said. "I would appreciate it very much."

Sakura paused for a moment, watching the young man out of the corner of her eye. She was relatively new to this whole Master/Servant thing, having only entered the War to defend Shinji (the boy had successfully summoned Rider because magic still flowed through his veins, but he was no where near close to controlling it; regardless of his faults Sakura still loved him, and she wasn't about to watch him die.), but being constantly referred to as 'Master' made her a little uncomfortable. Heating the water, she took a deep breath, wanting to sound as confident and sure of herself as possible. "A-Assassin?" Her voice came out as a squeak.

What happened to sounding calm and confident?!

Her Servant looked up at her again. "Yes, Master?"

Sakura turned to face him now, and a small, nervous smile lit her face. "My name isn't Master," she said softly. "It's Sakura. Matou Sakura." She clasped her hands behind her back. "Honestly, I feel awkward with always being called Master."

Assassin gazed at her for a few minutes without blinking before he spoke. "Is that a request or an order?"

"Uh…" Sakura struggled for control. "W-Well, ah… it's not an order. I won't make you call me by my name if… if you don't want to… but I'd… prefer it…" Blood rushed into her cheeks, making her face bright red.

Assassin studied her a little longer before his smile returned, and he dipped his head in acknowledgement. "Very well then," he murmured. "If that is what you want, then I shall call you Sakura."

The way her name rolled off his tongue made Sakura smile for some reason, even as her blush intensified. "Thank you," she whispered. After a moment, she took another leap of faith, mindful of the three Command Seals on her left hand. "Um… may I call you by your name? May I call you Kojiro-kun?"

Assassin's smile widened, if it was possible. Quite suddenly, he found himself very interested in this War.

"If that is what you want… Sakura."

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Illyasviel von Eizenbern giggled happily as Shirou reached up, gently tugging on her hand. "Onee-chan?" he asked, offering her a small picture book. "Is it all right if you read this one to me tonight?"

Illya took the book from Shirou as the boy scrambled up onto the bed beside her, studying the cover for a moment; she laughed. "But Shirou, I've read this to you a million times!"

"I know! But I really, really like it! It's all about heroes and how they save people!"

The white-haired girl paused for a moment, mulling over a thought; a light came into her red eyes and she looked down at her little brother. "Why don't I tell you a story about the hero who saved me?"

"Really?" Shirou's eyes widened to the size of dinner plates; he leaned closer to his sister. "You were saved by a hero, Onee-chan?"

"Yep! See, it happened a few years ago after this great war…"

From the doorway, Emiya Kiritsugu smiled as he watched his daughter enthrall her younger brother with her tale. Chuckling, he turned away and slid the door shut behind him as quietly as possible so as not to interrupt the story.

There was no doubt in the man's mind that one day Illya's grandfather would return and try to reclaim her, especially when the time for the fifth Holy Grail War drew closer. But it doesn't matter, the dark-haired man thought as he walked down the hall. When that day comes, I will protect her. I will definitely become strong enough to protect her.

But that was still ten years off.

For now, Kiritsugu had his daughter back, and she was growing up with a normal, stable family life.

That was all that mattered.

The End

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...

What can I say, I enjoy "what if" scenarios.

Scenario 1: Obviously, if Rin had summoned Gilgamesh things would have gone very differently, since it would mean that he died in the fourth Holy Grail War. Though if that had happened, going by the logic of Shirou summoning Saber like Kiritsugu, there's no way of saying Rin couldn't have summoned Gilgamesh as her Archer. Honestly, the two of them together? Utterly hilarious.

Scenario 2: I realize the really, really big plothole of how Saber would continue on in modern-day without a supply of mana, and I'm not altogether sure that two commands can be made simultaniously on one Command Seal. But still, it would have been an intriguing idea if Saber had found Shirou... kind of like the Rosette/Chrno relationship in Chrno Crusade, I think.

Scenario 3: I'm assuming that Rin had a relatively lonely childhood after her father died and Sakura was given to the Matou family, since we only see her interact with Shirou and she seems to have no other close friends. But if she'd made friends at a younger age, you never know... it could have totally changed her as a character.

Scenario 4: Assuming that Shinji was a proper magus (and therefore summoned Rider on his own) and Sakura summoned a different class of Servant, the War could have gone very differently for the two of them. I realize that there's a rule that siblings can't fight in the War, but in this version Sakura is fighting to protect Shinji, not to get the Holy Grail. So it could possibly be an exception. And summoning Assassin... that just changes so many things right off the bat.

Scenario 5: Not much to say here. Just Illya, having a regular life with her father and Shirou like she should have instead of staying with her grandfather like she did. I liked the idea of it, and it would have definitely changed the War; if Illya was happy and content, who would be left to summon Berserker? As a note, I only knew Illya is older than Shirou because of Wikipedia... so far I only know the anime and manga version of Fate, and neither go specifically into her character.

Read and review, please!