Game-verse, post Fate-route. Warning for game spoilers, et cetera.
Theme song: The Greatest Treasure, by Girls Dead Monster. (Angel Beats!)

Daybreak
"..turning and flowing along, time is transient.."

"Oh, Shirou."

The way she said that, the way she said 'oh' and his name, made him freeze.

It was filled with a strange combination of sadness, regret and you really have no idea what you're doing, do you?

She was approaching.

Their eyes met for a second.

"Good morning."

That was all she said before she moved on.

He watched her disappearing back silently.

His throat was locked with words he couldn't bring himself to say.

He locks the door, and feels more than sees her brows rising.

Hell, he can even almost see her crossing her arms and staring at his back expectantly.

Silence envelops both of them.

If this were the normal her, she would have used that teasing tone of hers - Locking the door, Emiya-kun? Careful, you might create some misunderstandings with just the two of us here -

But there's only silence.

Why?

Why is she acting like this? He needs to find out. She isn't the person he knows anymore, and he wonders if that incident has anything to do with it -

(he knows it has something to do with it.)

He swallows. He's going to do this. He needs to do this. He will do this. 'Cause -

"Tohsaka."

He turns around to face her.

She is directly opposite him; leaning against the metallic cupboard with her arms crossed.

He needs to make five steps to cross the room; instead, he watches how the soft, flickering light from the old light bulb hanging over them washes over her.

It casts a strange light over her. A beautiful light, rather.

It casts a gold hue over her figure and that long, ebony hair.

He takes a step.

Expectant jade eyes, still and cold, remain on him.

Half a step; his foot lifts. "Tohsaka, let me - "

"No," she says simply.

He freezes.

She uncrosses her arms; the fingers on her right hand curl into a fist.

Her eyes and voice are cold.

He knows that stance; she will (might, might. He hopes - ) attack him if he comes closer.

His jaw clenches; he puts his foot down firmly (he sees her fist tightening).

"You've been acting strange."

Second step.

"Have I?"

Third step.

"You have."

"Don't you think you were the one acting strange, Emiya-kun?"

He stops again.

The look she gives him -

It confuses him; he doesn't know why she's giving him that look.

The expression in her eyes, he has never seen it before -

(does he really not know why she's looking at him like that?)

A combination of -

"And what would you do after I let you?" she continues, jade eyes growing still. "What, Emiya-kun?"

- pity and regret.

He graces her with a look of confusion.

Scorn, and a hint of disbelief, is the response to his confusion. Liar.

"I have to see it." He somehow ignores the question, and presses on.

Fourth step.

Her brows dipped downwards.

Self-denial again, Emiya-kun?

I have to see it. Have to. Have to, have to.

Fifth step.

He's so close to her now. They are almost touching.

She hasn't attacked him yet. She could have and she didn't. She could have launched magic, or even a jewel (he knows she always keeps a few) at him and he would stagger, and she could leave the room in a heartbeat.

He moves his right hand, only to feel soft, slender fingers encircling his wrist, stopping him. No.

Turquoise eyes pierces into him, unflinching.

He tries to move, just a little, to test how much she will resist -

His eyes widens in surprise.

- she isn't resisting at all.

This time he grasps her wrist. It's small and slender.

(he couldn't help but savor the softness of her palm with his thumb.)

"Why?" He stills, suppressing the urge to just do it, she isn't resisting and he could have done it (and he's physically stronger than her, but something about her at the moment is just too strange and it makes him stop), "You could have stopped me earlier if you wanted - "

Her gaze darkens just a moment.

"Why did you stop, Emiya-kun?"

(she knows as well as he does.)

Jade eyes dare him to tell her why.

His throat locks up.

She's looking up at him, coldly, calmly, like she isn't the one cornered, like she isn't the one with a hand locked and pressed against the cupboard, and is the one cornering him.

Her gaze narrows.

And she steps closer.

Too close.

He hadn't been expecting that.

And he takes an unconscious step back, because if he hadn't, she would have been pressed against him -

"Toh - wait - "

He could almost feel her breath on him. Her scent.

She's closer to him than they had ever been since that evening and that time in the forest.

"Why?" she asks in complete deadpan. "Didn't you want to see it?"

He backs up; she follows.

He feels the muscle on her hand tense under his grip; is it anger?

"What's wrong, Emiya-kun?" Her voice continues coldly; blue jade pierces into him mercilessly - "you have me here, you locked the door, you could've overpowered me easily, and I'm not even fighting back. Why did you stop?"

He feels his back touching the cool surface of the door.

His breath is heaving.

And they are close enough that they are almost touching.

(stop - )

And then she takes a measured step back; twists her hand away from his grip.

"T - Tohsaka..?"

Her gaze is still cold. Angry. Her lips harden into a straight line.

And then she moves.

To unbutton the first button of her shirt.

Still jade is fixed on him, unflinching.

His throat goes dry instantly.

Second button.

(he remembers the feeling of her skin - with only the thin shirt of her school uniform in between - under his fingers.)

"What are you - "

Third button.

(the feeling of her breath hitching - )

His hands shoot out to grasp hers tightly; inadvertently pulling her close - and touching - as he removes them from her shirt.

She doesn't flinch, doesn't move, but her gaze continues to pierce. It's just centimeters from his own.

"Stop. Stop." he breathes out.

His breathing is harsh - when did it get that ragged?

He tries to tear his eyes away from the revealed skin that glowed under the soft light.

(he fails admirably.)

"Your body seems to have a different request, Emiya-kun," she says, rather simply. Is she teasing him? With a completely straight, cold face? Damn her. Damn her.

He has to ask. "Why are you doing this?"

Real anger flashes behind those jade eyes.

"You wanted this."

(No, he doesn't - not like this, not that - )

She's too close, and he knows she knows he thinks she's too close.

He doesn't know what he is doing when he crushes his lips to hers. Her lips are soft and warm, in contrast to all that she had been the whole day. The past few days.

And she lets him, opening up just as easily.

She lets him, and she's giving him that look that tells him you really don't have any idea what you're doing, do you.

(How the fuck did he go from wanting to find out what was up with her to wanting to look at that to them kissing?)

The first time he caught a glimpse of that (it was just a small glimpse, she was reaching for a book on the top shelf and why did she have to wear that small blouse - ), she had flushed, stopped; half embarrassed and half startled.

But he, on the other hand, was confused. He wasn't really sure what he just saw.

(he tried to ignore the sinking feeling in his stomach. He tried, he tried, he tried.)

That was when her expression changed to something both so complicated and so completely unreadable.

He stared at her, questioning.

She stared back, as if picking up and processing things from the turmoil playing on his face.

Her mouth opened before it closed without a sound. Instead, after a moment's pause -

"It's nothing, Shirou."

(he knows she knows he knows she's lying.)

"Okay," he somehow managed to say and didn't know why he said that.

Something flickered in those blue jade eyes, and he wondered.

The second time, he knew for certain, but it wasn't because he saw it; rather, he felt it.

He felt himself swallow down the non-existent lump in his throat, and stared up at surprised, flustered jade. There was a brilliant reddish orange hue cast all over her from the evening sun, and it made her all that more beautiful.

His back was pin and needles; there were sharp edges of scattered hard cover books poking into his spine.

And she was on top of him with both his hands wrapped around her small waist; courtesy of the old wooden ladder that broke which made him speed across from the door to her as she yelped - he could feel the curves and lean muscles and softness and everything because her school shirt was too damned thin -

His fingers brushed over something rough, jagged; she stiffened.

"Thanks for saving me," she said almost too quickly; her hand pressed against his chest as she attempted to lift herself up.

(why rough?)

He didn't let go. For some reason, he knew he shouldn't let go; there was something - some instinct deep in him - screaming at him, no, don't, you need to know -

And something flashed at the back of his mind; it was a scene he wouldn't ever forget.

(Blood on the wall, on the floor, on her, everywhere - )

His fingers brushed against the roughness more firmly, and her breath hitched. It felt jagged, rough, not at all smooth and soft the way it should be.

"I'm going to get mad, Shirou - " she threatened, but her voice was a whisper.

(and just what sort of travesty would have made the blood splatter on the wall - )

"A scar," he blurted out in dumbfounded surprise.

He remembered black-grey eyes, the ominous aura, the -

" - Shirou! You're hurting me!" The sharp voice knocked him out of his shock, and his gaze focused back onto brittle jade before he realized that his grip on her had tightened so much it was hurting her.

He released her immediately.

She pushed herself up in an instant.

Jade eyes blazed at him, but he barely noticed as he got up himself. He forgot about his sore back, about the feeling of her in his arms, her scent, and all he remembered was the sensation of that scar.

"Tohsaka - "

"I appreciate the concern, but it's none of your business," she cut in with a level stare.

"But - how did - " Something nagged at him. He should know this. He must know this. Is it - ?

Her brows drew together in annoyance. "Don't be a busybody, Emiya-kun. Girls wouldn't like that."

She turned, intending to leave the room, "Thanks for saving me just now, but we should get back to work - "

Her words were cut off when he gripped her hand.

"You were lying," he said, couldn't stop himself from saying, couldn't help the sound of hurt and betrayal from coming out, and he wasn't sure if he was referring to that first time or now.

Turquoise gaze flickered.

It was a measured moment before she turned to face him fully again, her free hand resting on his that gripped hers, and her words were calm and firm. "I wasn't. When I said it was nothing, I meant it, because it's nothing to me."

She slid his suddenly loose grip off her and left the room.

But it was something to him.

Despite the warmth of the orange-red sun flowing in from the window of the study in Tohsaka's household, he was cold.

The next day, she greeted him like she usually did.

He greeted back, he tried to act normal, but he couldn't help - staring, sometimes - and he ended up just being...awkward.

And Rin, knowing what it was all about, drew her brows together. He wants to know, and he wants to know if it was really that -

"Knock it off," she barked.

But it didn't work the first time, and she could tell it wouldn't work the second nor the third time, so all she said was, "If that's how you want it, Emiya-kun," and she turned away.

That was how it went for the next few days until he pulled her into the small store room and locked it.

She's under him, shirt unbuttoned and open, and the ribbons in her hair have gotten loose and ebony locks are spread on her back; he's hovering above her, and it's a strange twist to that time when she was on top of him.

Her fingers are entangled in his hair, and he has a hand running across her cheek, pressing into her neck and brushing against soft hair. They are both short on breath, but now he knows how she tastes for real, and he never realizes it's so addictive, all he wants is more and more - Saber was real, but she's real too -

He stops when he feels the scar under his fingers. This time, without the cloth hindering his touch. It causes her breath to hitch, as if it's a sensitive spot for her. Her hands untangle themselves from him, and she chooses instead to just let herself lie on the cold floor.

"When...?" he manages to ask.

Despite the heat and the flush on her face and the fact that she's under him and everything about the current situation, the look she gives him is nothing short of irritated.

"Are you really that dense, or are you just trying to not see it?" she asks, even when she already knows the answer, jade eyes sharp like daggers.

He doesn't say anything for a long moment, gaze concentrated on the long, almost oval-shaped scar with jagged edges. He couldn't help but let his fingers brush against its roughness again - Rin stiffens but doesn't stop him (as if sensing he needs this, he really needs this) - and then he covers the whole scar with his palm; his palm barely covers the whole thing.

The scar's not big, but it isn't by any means small either. And it's bigger on her back.

He never realized. Saber was the one who actually saw the wound and wrapped - Rin said she had healed it and -

( - HE BLEW HER STOMACH OPEN - )

He swallows.

"I didn't kn - "

"There wasn't a reason for you to know."

"But - " he stops, feeling miserable now, and doesn't know what to say, except, "I'm sorry."

This time she scoffs at him. "Don't be conceited." She pauses, bats his hand away from her stomach - "Stop staring at it!" - and closes her shirt in a loose grip (white flesh still peeks out, and he sees edges of the scar near the belly button - ).

"And don't you dare pull your guilt trip on me. This had nothing to do with you." Her tone hardens warningly.

"But - "

She smacks him on the nose, hard, and he flinches more from the surprise than the pain. "No, Shirou."

He just sort of stares down at her, feeling a turmoil of shock and horror and amazement and guilt and everything out and in between.

And she sees it, too. The look she graces him with is warm, bittersweet and almost confused.

Why is this so difficult for you, Shirou? Why are you reacting so badly to this? Why were you reacting so badly to this?

"Now what?" she asks instead, as if it's a nonsensical, unimportant question. Her grip on her shirt tightens just the slightest, and the expression on her face is indescribable and almost poker-like, but all so vivid and haunting under the soft gold hue that it reminds him of steel and fragility.

What are you going to do now that you've seen it, touched it?

He doesn't know, isn't able to answer the questions she asks but didn't actually ask, and it probably shows on his face, because he feels her sighing softly against him (he feels the softness of her brushing him, and has to resist - ), and her eyes closes momentarily as if in regret.

"Oh, Shirou." This is why.

"I'll be going to London. After graduation."

That declaration was yesterday; there's another month before graduation.

There was a pause before she continued, during which he wondered if her leaving was because of that incident - "The association offered me a place there for further magic studies, and I intend to take it." It was said plainly, as if it was an obvious thing for Tohsaka Rin to do.

"Oh," he said.

It was as if she knew what he was thinking.

But was it really...?

The war was one year and three months ago.

(Saber was gone one year, two months and two weeks before, and now the one he admired will go in a month.)

He finds out that Sakura is her sister, and his jaw drops again.

But in retrospect, it really shouldn't be that surprising. There was always this certain strange - thing - between Rin and Sakura. What didn't give it away was the difference in hair and eye color but - who would have thought?

Or maybe his jaw is hanging open because she is telling him that with a completely straight face.

She's looking into her cup of tea, absently swirling the warm liquid around with a thoughtful expression on her face. She hasn't said anything beyond, "Sakura is my biological sister, adopted by the Matou family," and is completely silent for the next five minutes.

He wonders why she's telling him this.

Then she continues with the history of Matou's family, of what kind of magic Matou does, of what adoption means for a family of Magus, worrying him one moment and calming him the next; Sakura doesn't (or shouldn't) know magic, that is good news.

He thought of telling her it disturbs him to see her say all these in a completely nonchalant and emotionless way. Isn't Sakura her sister?

(Then he remembers her lurking around the archery range every now and then and he thinks, oh.)

But he still doesn't really understand why she's telling him this.

"A stand-in supervisor for Fuyuki city will come after I leave." She sips her tea. "Kotomine is no longer here - " the mention of that name sends a cold stab down his spine and makes his blood boil - "and Sakura aside, you're the only other known magus around here; and though you've learnt a lot this past year, it's still not enough to qualify you for the...Shirou?"

He blinks.

"What are you..." she stops, watching the broken glass in his hand, and understands all at the same time.

Her eyes soften, and she sighs. "Shirou." She says his name quietly, in that certain indescribable way he never knew she could, and it simultaneously cools his boiling blood and makes him loosen up his tense muscles to open his hand. The broken glass drops to the table with sharp clinks, and he barely feels the throbbing and warm blood on his hand.

She had left and returned to the table with a cloth before he even notices, and she makes a few swipes at the table. Pieces of glass clink and spilled tea disappears; the table is clean again.

That is also when he realizes he had clenched his jaw so hard it hurt, and slowly, he forces himself to unclench it. It's a procedure that lasted a minute, maybe longer, and she just watches him do it in the sort of silence and soft jade that somehow manages to comfort him.

She reaches out for the first aid kit under the table like she has always known it is there for emergencies before sitting by his side. He breathes in, in an effort to calm down; and she opens the kit and takes out a few choice items before reaching out for his hand.

"The new supervisor doesn't need to know about Sakura," she says, picking out little pieces of glass stuck to his skin gently, as if nothing just happened and he wasn't reminded of that bastard -

Rin just continues; she now dabs the cotton at his palm. "She's not a magus, after all. I'm just telling you about her in case it's necessary. That incident with Shinji proved that we can never be too careful."

He finds himself agreeing, though a part of him still feels sad at the reminder of Shinji while another tries terribly hard to stomp down the thought of that scar. He looks down at his hand and her gentle grip on him; she makes methodical dabs and cleans his wound with expertise and efficiency born from experience.

(for some reason, the sight of her treating his wound eases him, and before he knows it, he feels like himself again.)

"Don't worry," he says before he thinks it through properly, "I'll take care of Sakura."

For a second she freezes midway through putting the red-soaked cotton back on the table.

"I never asked you to, and she's not my concern," she responded with a Tohsaka Rin voice; but for some reason or another, he feels as if there's something hidden within that expressionless gaze - something that makes him smile and think of thank you.

(he stifles his grin at her two-second, almost-reproachful glare.)

She suddenly presses antiseptic-soaked cotton onto his wound, hard.

"Gerhk - ! "

"So, Shirou," she says pleasantly, ignoring his yelp as if she doesn't hear it, "how do you feel about being the assistant to the new supervisor?"

The puzzle pieces falls into place; that's why she's telling him her own and Sakura's history.

"You won't have any real responsibilities - but I'd like it if you could provide him or her with information when needed. A supervisor needs to be familiar with the city and the magi who lives in it."

He gives her a dumbfounded look.

She gives him a look that says, idiot.

(but what he thinks she doesn't know is he's furiously trying to stomp down the feeling of, oh, there's the nail in the coffin, she's definitely preparing to leave - )

They had been completely silent, he not knowing what to say or do, she with that look; he was still hovering over her but doing nothing, and then she sighed - "Get up."

He obeyed.

She told him to face the door; he did. Then he heard the rustling of clothes before feeling her coming close.

He glanced back just as she reached out for the doorknob (looking all proper and good again), twisting it open - he took an instinctive step back and the door opened fully.

She moved past him but paused at the doorway, giving him a cursory glance. "We have work to do, Emiya-kun. There are still things you need to learn about magic." Standing still is not what I do, Shirou.

She said nothing about what occurred earlier, and disappeared from the store room.

He didn't say anything either, for lack of knowing what to say, and just walked out the door.

Neither brought it up again, even if it continued to haunt him at the back of his mind.

(and they somehow managed to act normal around each other, so normal it was almost strange.)

He maneuvers his way through the dusty basement, picking things and rearranging stuff with ease. He knows the Tohsaka house almost as well as he knows his own now - while she had sometimes brought things to his place for him to learn or do, she sometimes made him come over to her place; there were equipments he could begin learning to use, and her place had been better equipped to handle magical accidents.

His sleeves are rolled up, he has a cloth wrapped around his head; clearly, he is dressed to clean.

Spring cleaning, the demon calls it. Spring cleaning my foot..

But then, isn't he the one who had offered to help clean up her house in preparation of her going to London?

(he remembers the demon giving him a look that said, obviously. "Of course you're helping. You're my student and slave, after all.")

His thoughts stop when he accidentally steps on something pebble-like, and when he glances down, he realizes it's another one of her jewels. It isn't the first one he found. Around the basement, he had found several other pieces of jewels, some hidden behind books and boxes, some just by the table, and...yes.

It's a very messy workshop, which is really...well. He supposes that his image of the perfect honor student had been destroyed long ago, so it doesn't really matter.

He pockets the stone without a second thought, next to the few others he picked up.

It's another half hour before he's satisfied with the state of the basement, and he moves back up - walking automatically to her room (she said she will be in her room packing things) to return the jewels.

The door to her room is half open, and -

"Tohsaka?"

Silence.

He pokes his head in after hesitating a second. Her bookshelf is half empty, but items are littered around the room, on the floor and on the table with empty boxes prepared by the corner for storage.

She's seated on her bed, apparently not hearing him, for all intents and purposes lost in her own world as she stares at something on her palm.

"Tohsaka?" he calls again, louder.

That seems to do it, and she startles; something red and glinting slipping from between her fingers to the floor.

"S - Shirou?" But he barely hears her - his gaze is fixed on the item - the red jewel with a silver chain - that drops to the floor.

All thoughts stop for him the moment he recognizes it.

"Oh - " She almost sounds nervous as she picks up the jewel and grasp it within her fist, "you're done with the basement?"

He doesn't answer; he can't stop staring at her closed fist.

It's a short pause before she gives him a somewhat wary, guarded look. "Shirou?"

He jerks for some reason, he forgets about the jewels he was going to return to her, and asks, "Where did you get that pendant?"

She glances back at her uncurling fist, gives him a look that spelled confusion and a strange sort of discomfort, "It's my father's memento." A pause. "Why?"

"I..." his mind swirled with possibilities and impossibilities.

(Can it? Could it - ?)

"I have one too," he manages to say. "I have one in my house."

(It's something he picked up that night he should've died - )

Her eyes widens in surprise and disbelief.

"But that's - " She shuts her mouth just as quickly as she started.

He could almost see her thoughts churning like a typhoon, even if he isn't able to tell what are they exactly.

Jade eyes narrow at him and she stands. She seems almost angry now, angry, and sad, as if she realizes something that she should have realized long ago.

But that hardly registers to him at the moment - why does she have that same pendant - he feels as if he's grasping at straws, and there's this something in him that's trying to tell him again, screaming at him, no, you need to know, figure it out now -

"You - " it's his turn to start before he cuts himself off, his heart is beating loudly against his chest, and he's trying to connect the dots in his head so hard it almost, almost hurts - "That night," he croaks out, "That night, you - " He doesn't continue, he can't figure out the words he wants to say, and he ends up staring at her in bewilderment and astonishment.

It's as if her anger vanishes suddenly upon those words. She levels an unreadable stare at him, and he could almost hear the door slamming shut in his face - "That night what?"

She gives him a look as if saying she doesn't know what he's referring to, but she's just too shaken for him to believe that -

( - and the pieces of puzzle fall into place - )

"It was you," he breathes out, as if in wonderment. "It was you."

He looks into vivid blue jade that's calm and unflinching, and only manages to say, "You were the one who saved me."

She doesn't deny it, as if knowing he won't even buy her denial, and instead scoffs and turn away. "Don't misunderstand. It would be a pain if people were to find you dead in the school hallway, and - "

He isn't really sure when he moved, but he did.

Because, before he realizes it, she's already in his arms, his nose tickled by her soft hair, her small back pressed to his chest - and she stops breathing for a second, stiffening, surprised beyond words -

It's a very long ten seconds before he feels her relaxing in his hold.

And time froze for that moment until a phone call startles him and she leaves the room.

(It's the fourth time she's so close to him.)

There was a time when they talked about Saber (approximately half a year after the war), but that was more of her inquiring how he had been after she left.

He had been surprisingly nonchalant; it had hurt, it really, really did, but he understood all the same why and how things became the way they were.

At the end of it, she just sort of frowned before she sighed, rubbed at her face, and gave him a look.

Idiot, it said.

After that, Rin begun giving him more than his usual load of homework, which made him come over to her place all that more often.

"If you have time to mope," she had said (but he wasn't moping, not really), "you've time to learn more things."

It was an indirect way of telling him, move on, Shirou.

He had protested, but the look she gave him said, don't even.

"You like her, don't you?"

He chokes on his tea.

"W-what?" He looks up from his tea to across the table at Matou Sakura.

"Tohsaka-sempai," she says simply with a smile that is so very her. He could almost see ghosts of what Tohsaka Sakura would have been, and he wonders if it's because he found out that they are sisters -

"What are you talking about, Sakura?" He finds himself swallowing, nervous now.

Something flickers in those blue eyes - something like sadness and joy both, but - is it his imagination?

"You've been looking at her a lot," she says, rather frankly, and not at all shyly.

He blinks, gapes, and almost protests - but Sakura continues. "I'm not the only one who noticed. Fujimura-sensei was - "

"Fuji-nee?"

She smiles, amused. "Yes." But then she pauses, hesitates.

"But, sempai - " she stops, and the expression on her face twists as if fighting something within herself, and then she takes in a deep breath and looks him straight in the eye. "If - if you're not serious about Tohsaka-sempai, please don't hurt her."

(She's my sister, he could almost hear her say even though he knows she doesn't know he knows they are sisters, and I love her, and I don't want to see her hurt.)

This time he blinks at her, confused and bewildered.

"I know I may be overstepping my bounds but - " she hastens to continue, "but I - " she cuts herself off.

"S-Sakura...?"

She takes another deep breath.

"You were so sad when Saber-san left, sempai, even when you tried to act normal and happy - and Tohsaka-sempai was the one helping you out of it - "

And suddenly, the world comes to a standstill all over again.

It's a soft, yet heart-wrenching melody.

Her fingers work fluidly across the piano - the grand piano that he never knew she could play - and each sound pierces into him.

The melody is like an embodiment of what she is.

Alone, alone, but unwavering.

Alone, yet solid.

Alone, almost lonely – only not.

So entranced he is - the metallic case slips from under his arm, where he is holding several files and papers to him. She stops at the loud clank accompanying the case that crashed to the floor, and the tune ends on a sharp note it shouldn't have ended at.

She levels an unsurprised, questioning look at him. She probably sensed his presence earlier.

"I never knew you could play," he offers in half amazement and half apology.

The look she gives him is amused. "Did you think I wouldn't be able to?" she asks plainly, as if stating something obvious.

So spoke the student idol.

"...Right."

The smile on her lips grows into a Cheshire-Rin-like-smirk.

"Oh?"

He almost twitches.

"What song is that?" he tries to switch the topic.

The look on her face tells him she knows what he is trying to do, but she lets it go.

She runs a gentle hand across the cold white keys, for a moment looking thoughtful.

Then she reaches up to close the piano.

"There's no title for it."

He blinks. "Why?"

"Because I never bothered to give it a name."

His jaw almost drops.

"You can compose?"

Her motion pauses at that.

"Not really, no." She stands, a momentary look of rue crossing her beautiful face. Her hand lifts the folded large, grey cloth resting on the long chair beside her. "I'm terrible at creating things."

He protests almost instantly - because it wasn't true - even as she flaps out the cloth, intending to cover the piano.

"But it's - it's really beautiful." A pause. "Can I hear the full song, Tohsaka?"

He isn't really sure what he just said. The words blurted themselves out on their own.

She blinks at him, and stops.

The look she gives him this time is appraising, evaluating.

Penetrating.

(he's suddenly reminded of when she was below him, of heat and warmth and softness and he stomps it down - )

He almost gulps.

Then she smiles. It is a small, quiet smile.

But it's the most dazzling smile he's seen from her yet.

"This once for you, Shirou."

And she sits back down, grey cloth laid across the chair.

"Do you really love her, sempai? Or is she just - "

He fingers the pendant in his pocket.

Somehow, he's gotten into the habit of fingering the pendant in his pants pocket every now and then, as if it's something he always does. He's kept it with him ever since Rin said it's his now.

"Here," she says, holding out something.

He looks up at her, hand automatically reaching out to take whatever she was giving him; it's probably something to do with magic and training and - he stops.

"A key?" He stares at the copper key in his hand.

"To my house," is the reply. "For when you need magical items or books for your own usage or practice."

He gapes at her.

"What?" she asks.

"B - but...it's your house!"

"And?"

He just gapes at her.

She smirks at him, "Of course, Emiya-kun, I do expect you to take care of my house during my absence."

He shuts his mouth. He should have known it isn't just as simple as her wanting to help him.

"Also, Emiya-kun?" She continues with a smile, but something about her current smile is sending a chill down his spine.

"Y-yes...?"

"My house had better not be ruined when I get back."

He gulps.

"Well," she says, demonic aura suddenly gone, "I don't really care what you do beyond that. Just make sure the house is in top-tip condition."

He sighs. "Yes, ma'am..."

A key to her place.

(it's another nail in the coffin - )

He hears the sound of glass clinking, and he looks up at the table to see a cup of earl grey tea in front of him; he recognizes the smell easily enough, particularly with how often he came by her place.

"Here," she offers before sitting back down on her own chair.

Her hand picks up her own cup before she sips it, and she leans back against her chair.

Silence envelops both of them.

She's looking lost in thought again, and he wonders what she's thinking.

There are another two days before she leaves, and he hasn't resolved anything yet.

(The scar, Kotomine, them kissing, Sakura, his savior, the pendant and - )

The thought makes him grit his teeth.

"Shirou?"

His eyes focus back onto her.

She's giving him a concerned look. "What's wrong?"

( - Saber - )

He takes his hand out of the pocket to pick up the cup in front of him.

"It's nothi - "

"Why is your hand bleeding?"

She's staring at his hand, and he suddenly realizes he'd been gripping the pendant too hard.

He freezes.

He held the red pendant by the chain, and watched the jewel dangle in front of him momentarily before holding it out to her.

"Here," he said, "I should return this to you."

She gave him a surprised look.

"It's yours, after all, and..." he trailed off. He didn't really know what to say or how to react. Should he say, Thanks for saving me. I appreciate it, or...what? That just sounded like a big understatement, and he honestly had no idea what to say about it.

She didn't say anything for a long moment, staring at him like she's seeing a stranger, and then her gaze softened and she smiled.

"Keep it," she told him. "Consider it a memento from me to you. From teacher to student."

"But - "

"I won't say you're extraordinary at magic, Shirou, but you've learnt well. I've taught you the basics, and you can advance yourself with time if you apply yourself to it."

"Isn't this from your father?"

It was at this point when her smile quirked, and jade eyes flickered. "Yes. The one you're holding, it is."

"Then..." He hesitated, sensing the oddity in her sentence, but unable to figure it out.

"I've already got mine back," she continued, almost in a mutter, but he caught her words anyway, and gave her a confused look.

"Tohsaka..?"

She sighed, and gave him a smile that wasn't quite a smile, and there was something about it that was so haunting that he thought he would never forget it.

"Just keep it, Shirou." A pause, before she added, "call it a parting gift, if you will."

A parting gift.

A part of him felt like he wanted to loath those words already.

But he kept the jewel anyway, because she insisted on it, and he didn't have any reason not to accept it.

(The pendant had never left his side since then.)

She hasn't said anything since she saw the pendant.

But the look she gives him - she had looked so completely surprised before her eyes seemed to grow misty, and she looks down and away from him.

It has been a definite cause of panic for him and he jumps from his seat, suddenly hovering around her frantically while she remains frighteningly silent.

"T-Tohsaka? Uhm...eh..."

"...Shut up."

He shuts up.

It's completely silent.

He can't resist wanting to know what she's thinking, and kneels by her chair - and at this exact moment, she looks up and glares at him, misty eyes and all but so very furious. "What are you, an idiot?" she barks at him sharply. "I told you to keep it but that doesn't mean you have to bring it everywhere!"

He shrinks back, just a little.

"What were you thinking? Gripping the pendant so tightly until you hurt yourself - !"

She's completely lost her cool, and he knows it's because of him.

"I'm sorry." he manages to say.

"You idiot!"

"I'm sorry."

"There's only another two days before I leave, and you insist on confusing me and not giving me a peace of mind - " She stops suddenly.

It's his turn to stare at her in surprise.

"Toh - "

"Shut up. Just, shut up." She looks away.

And though he can't see her face, her figure is trembling.

(it makes him want to hold her tight - )

Fragile wasn't ever a description that he associated with Tohsaka Rin before; but for some reason or another, the sight of her trembling makes him remember what Sakura said, what she tried to tell and warn him - "Don't hurt her."

Then he remembers everything that he did to her the past few weeks, the way he goes after her only to pull back, and Saber and the pendant and -

I'm such an idiot.

He grasps her hand, tugging almost gently in a bid to make her look at him.

"What...?" She glances back at him, voice still sharp and seemingly irritated (only he knows she's not).

And then he pulls her down to him - she startles - and envelops her in his arms. She almost crashes onto him in the process, but. He's man enough to take it.

"Shirou - !"

"I'm sorry for hurting you," he murmurs into her hair.

A sharp intake of breath.

She grips his shirt tightly.

"I don't know what you're talking about," she says, almost too quietly, lacking the usual sharpness.

He feels the tension in her easing away.

"Okay," he says. "If you say so."

He breathes in her scent, takes in the feel of her in his arms and how comforting it is, and his eyes close.

I'm okay now.

All it took for him to actually make the first step was the sight of her crying.

He remembers Fujimura eyeing him strangely.

"What...?" he can't help but ask; the staring is getting just a bit too creepy for him.

She blinks, and just scratches her cheek.

"Hmm. How should I say this?" She grins almost sheepishly, a hint of pride hiding behind amber eyes, "For a second there, you seemed more like a man than a boy, Shirou."

It's time.

She takes the bag he was carrying for her, and rolls it to her side.

The call for boarding repeats for the second time, and he squints at the white-red airplane behind the window; barely making out the words painted on it because it's just too sunny a morning.

"Shirou." He looks back at her.

Maybe it was the too bright sun, but he finds himself looking at black-blue irises instead of just turquoise -

"Make sure you don't ruin my house," she says with a completely straight face, but he thinks he's beginning to learn how to pick up hints of warmth from her bland look; and those vivid jade eyes, he knows now, are the most expressive part of her.

He half snorts and half sighs; sticks his hands into his pockets, and gives her a wry look.

(and he's unconsciously fingering the pendant in his pocket again.)

"Of course."

She smiles the same smile she gave him when he requested that she play the piano.

"I'll see you sometime, then."

And she turns -

"Tohsaka."

- and stops. She glances back at him questioningly.

He just looks at her.

"You'll see me soon," he says.

(just wait a little - I'm letting go, moving on - )

It's a very long pause before she responds, Rin-like smile tempered with the softest jade he has ever seen and everything.

"My apprentice will be worked hard," she says warningly, but the warmth that usually lurks behind her voice is so very apparent now. "And this apprentice had better make sure the new supervisor knows what he should know."

"I know," he responds with a grin.

She snorts back at him.

"I'll see you later, Shirou."

He watches the plane fly off into the sky from behind the window, and can't help but squint at the bright, warm sun.

In his right hand, he fingers a red jewel with silver chain.

A/N: Lack of Shirou/Rin fics makes me sad. Not that I'm against other pairings. Just. Too little. Why are there so few?

There are four obvious (or hinted) pairings mentioned in this fic, and one not so obvious that you'd have to...well, squint at, maybe, if I was as elusive as I think. Kudos if you can tell.

What needs to be noted is that I've almost no memory of the anime and how it went, and I'm pretty sure there's stark differences between anime and game - particularly, where growth of characters and relationships are concerned. So, well. If you're confused, I can't really do anything but hope you enjoyed the story all the same - and I will, also, advise you to get your hands on the game.

Much thanks to Rae (Astarael00) for ultra quick beta-ing; hope it's good, and comments, flames and all are most appreciated.