I've been waiting for a while. I had no idea when she might make her move, so I've been hiding in the bushes since the sun went down. It's freezing and I can barely feel my fingers anymore, but finally the door to her house opens and I quickly rush to intercept.

"Tohsaka!" I whisper urgently, waving my arms to better catch her attention. "Tohsaka, over here!"

The girl's head darts around anxiously before her eyes zero in on me.

"Emiya-kun?" she gasps, and her tone suggests equal parts surprise and annoyance. "What do you think you're doing here? I told you I would handle Zouken. You and Saber are supposed to be looking for that shadow, remember?"

"Saber is taking care of that," I reply uneasily. "I've arranged some reliable backup for her so you don't have to worry about it."

Rather than calming Tohsaka, my words have the opposite effect. "Are you INSANE?" she exclaims. "Maybe Saber can handle herself, but you're just a walking target without her protection. Haven't I warned you enough times? When are you going to stop fooling around and start acting like a Master? Your life is at stake, you idiot!"

"Look, it's complicated," I reply irritably. It's been a while so I forgot Tohsaka used to treat me as being completely useless. Well, she still does come to think of it, but at least she acknowledges me. "Like I said, Saber has reliable backup and my being there would only make things more difficult. And anyway, should you really be complaining about a little extra help?"

"Help?" Tohsaka blurts in such a scathing tone that I wilt away from her a little. "I don't need your help Emiya-kun. You can barely help yourself. Come back in ten years when you've picked up enough skills not to be a burden and I'll consider it."

Urgh… After tonight, I'll never complain about the things you say about me again, Rin. Sheesh, you really didn't hold back before, did you? I'll be sure to be a little more thankful from now on.

"I'm already here, aren't I?" I say forcefully. "Don't brush me off out of hand, okay? Maybe I won't be any help but maybe I will. Even if you tell me to go home now, I can't do that and Saber wouldn't be there to protect me anyway."

Tohsaka glares at me for a while but this time I don't shy away. Finally she bites her lip and turns her head from me. "Fine, you can come with me, but you have to listen to everything I say! If you can't agree to follow my orders, then I'll just have Archer knock you out and take you back against your will."

I nod in acceptance of her request. I'm used to being bossed around by Rin anyway.

"Rin," says a voice that seems to come from nowhere. It must be Archer in spirit form. "I advise that you reconsider. Emiya's presence will only hinder us."

"I know that," Tohsaka snaps. "But he's already here, isn't he? I agreed to cooperate with him so I have to take responsibility."

"And what of your responsibilities as a Master? Cooperating with another Master is fine, but at least ally with one who can hold his own weight. Useless dreck like Emiya isn't needed. If you insist on dragging him along, I will not lift a finger to protect him."

The Servant's blunt manner of speaking greatly resembles his Master's. His words bother me less than Tohsaka's, though. I always hated this guy and couldn't care less about what he thinks.

"That's fine," I growl. "I wouldn't want to owe anything to someone like you in the first place." I wish I could see him so I'd know where to direct my anger.

I feel someone place a hand on my shoulder. When I turn my head, I see Tohsaka with a tight expression on her face. "Emiya-kun, Archer has a point. I can't guarantee your safety if anything happens. If you get unlucky, neither I nor Archer will risk our life to save yours."

"I understand," I tell her. If anything, I prefer that to be the case. I don't want Tohsaka to endanger herself on my account. I don't really care what happens to Archer, though. "What kind of Master isn't prepared to risk their life? I'm coming with you, Tohsaka."

"Then there's nothing left to talk about," Tohsaka says with a nod. I see something like approval flicker in her eyes. "Let's go."

It isn't far to the Matou estate from Tohsaka's house, but we proceed with caution.

"Archer, do you sense any other Servants in the area?" Tohsaka whispers tersely.

"No," replies the voice from nowhere. "But the boundary field surrounding the building may conceal their presence, even if there is one."

"You think Zouken has a Servant?" I question Tohsaka. "I thought we'd be fine since Shinji isn't a Master anymore."

"No, we can't be that optimistic," Tohsaka answers. Her eyes are distant. "After Saber defeated Rider, you said that Shinji's book burned and his Servant disappeared, right? That doesn't mean Rider is dead, only that Shinji lost his right as a Master. I won't go into details, but that book Shinji had was probably created when Rider's true Master used a Command Spell to bind her to Shinji's will. It gave him the power to direct Rider as if he were a real Master, which he lost after the book was destroyed. Rider is probably still alive, though. A Servant's link to this world isn't severed until the bearer of their Command Seals dies."

"And in Rider's case, you think that person is Zouken," I infer.

Tohsaka nods. "Zouken might be a crippled old man on his last legs, but we still can't underestimate him. In any case, that's all irrelevant to our current task. Our goal tonight is to avoid fighting. We're only doing this to gather information."

We lapse into silence as we draw closer to the Matou house. It's a western style mansion, like the Tohsaka residence, but it looks much older because the paint in worn in some places and huge stalks of ivy have taken over the east wall. It's winter, so it makes sense that the trees don't have leaves on them, but they only add to the creepy atmosphere. I always did think that living in such a foreboding old building didn't suit Sakura.

On the other hand, Shinji with his twisted personality seemed a perfect fit.

As we approach the front gate, Tohsaka holds up her hand as a signal to halt.

"Hold here for a second," she says and starts moving her hands across an invisible wall. "I need to tune in to the boundary field so it doesn't recognize us as enemies."

From the tone of her voice, you'd think it was the simplest thing in the world. In reality, it's a very complex, almost surgical process with no margin for error. In some ways it would be easier to dismantle the boundary field entirely. It would require an immense amount of magical energy, so much that anything less than a Rank A Noble Phantasm would be insufficient, but the process itself is essentially like shattering glass and very straightforward.

Tricking the boundary field so it doesn't recognize outsiders with hostile intent isn't very taxing in terms of magical energy, but it's like trying to pick up a single grain of sand on the beach using chopsticks without touching any of the other grains of sand around it. For most magi such a feat is impossible. For Tohsaka Rin? Sometimes I feel like nothing is impossible for her.

"Got it!" Tohsaka chirps triumphantly. "It should be safe to enter, but we have to be quick. The effect will last maybe twenty minutes, so we have to leave before then."

I blink. Wow, she did that even faster than I expected. I guess that's Tohsaka for you.

"…impressed are we, Emiya-kun?" Tohsaka teases. At first I don't know what she's talking about, but then I realize my mouth is hanging open.

I quickly master my face and feign ignorance. I'm not supposed to know enough to realize how incredible the spectacle I just witnessed really was.

"Huh? Should I be? All you did was fiddle around with the boundary field, right?"

Tohsaka's smile disappears and a scowl forms in its place. "'Fiddle around'? Is that all you think I did?" Her voice is venomous. "You have no… oh, never mind. It's a waste of time trying to explain it to a novice magus like you."

She rolls her eyes at me and then stomps away angrily, crossing the threshold to the Matou residence. With her back turned, I just smile at her. What's more amazing than her skill is that she doesn't boast about it. Even if she casually throws insults like calling me a novice, I know she's harder on herself than anyone else. It took me a while, but I think I just about have the measure of Tohsaka Rin.

She snaps her head back at me. "Well? Are you coming or not?"

"Sorry," I hastily apologize as I jog up to join her. I know it's not the time for sentimentality, but I can't help it. Being with this Tohsaka who tries so hard to only show her tough side is nostalgic.

"Rin," Archer's voice catches both our attention. It sounds fainter than before so he must be further away. I turn my field of vision towards the direction it originated and see a knight in red materialize from nothing moments later.

"Did you find something, Archer?"

"There is a trapdoor hidden among the bushes on the north side of the building."

Tohsaka and I hurry over to him. In a small area completely surrounded by shrubbery there is a wooden that look like they lead to some sort of cellar. The hedges growing nearby obscure it from view, but the door itself is spotless, if a bit old.

"It's well taken care of," Tohsaka observes. "They must trim the foliage back often so it doesn't grow over the door. Very suspicious… Good work, Archer."

"What do you think Zouken's hiding down there?" I wonder aloud.

Tohsaka rolls up her sleeves. "Only one way to find out." She places both hands on the iron hinge and pulls, revealing stairs that lead to oblivion.

"We'll need a lig-" I start to say but am blinded when Archer pulls something from behind his back. I blink a few times and the world slips back into focus. He's holding a torch.

"You were saying?" Archer says wryly, smirking at me like he considers me some kind of insect.

I just glare back at him. So he can project useful things, too, huh? Come to think of it, I haven't tried to project anything other than swords, not counting those failures in the shed at my house. Dissatisfied with losing to that jerk, I get the urge to try my hand at it but have sense enough not to actually attempt it. Rin would be pissed if she found out I blew my cover over something so meaningless.

"I'll go first, Rin," Archer says, stepping into the darkness below. "Maybe you should tie the boy to a pole and leave him outside. He can keep watch."

The bastard is comparing me to a dog! I'm so pissed off I almost try to punch him in retaliation, but hold myself back through sheer force of will. He always did know how to push my buttons. Well, I guess that's only natural considering who he is…

Whatever. I won't give him the satisfaction of knowing he almost got to me.

Tohsaka looks at me questioningly. "Did something happen between you two without me knowing? You're getting along even worse than usual."

I just roll my shoulders. "Nah. This is the way it's supposed to be with us."

She quirks an eyebrow at me but doesn't push the issue any further.

"It's safe," Archer's voice echoes from underground. Despite his words of assurance, he sounds tense.

Tohsaka senses it too. "Stay close, Emiya-kun," she says before stepping into the breach.

"I'm right behind you," I agree.

As we descend the dimly lit staircase, the first thing I notice is the air. It's stagnant and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The lower we go, the worse it gets until I'm practically gagging from the putrid odor. It gets brighter as we draw nearer to where Archer is standing.

Finally the narrow passageway opens into a cavernous area. There are countless holes lining the walls, each cut by what must have been a stone mason so the sides and bottom are perpendicular to each other, with an arch spanning the top.

"It's some kind of mausoleum," Tohsaka says.

"Yeah," I agree vaguely. That certainly explains why the place reeks of death.

"It looks like there's some sort of cage in the middle of the floor down there," Tohsaka adds.

I follow her gaze and see that she's correct. There was a metal cage that looked a lot like a smaller version of the ones you see housing animals at the zoo. Only, it was big enough to fit maybe one or two animals… or people.

Then something else catches my eye. "There's something moving down there…"

"Huh? Where?" Tohsaka asks.

"It's… everywhere," I answer. "It's like the entire floor is just one giant, black writhing mass."

"Really? I can't…" Tohsaka falls silent and her eyes widen. "You're right. What the hell is that? Can you tell, Archer?"

The red knight doesn't answer, but he too is starting intently at… what ever is was we were looking at.

"I'm going to get a closer look," Tohsaka declares. I automatically follow her as she heads further down the staircase.

"Rin, wait!" Archer's clarion clear shout pierces through the stagnant air.

Tohsaka pauses and turns around. "Archer? What's wrong?"

As soon as she turns her back, I see something leap up from the amorphous mass. It's small and its movements are snakelike, only the creature is much too short to be a snake. I don't need to know exactly what it is to be able to tell it's dangerous, though.

"Tohsaka, get down!"

My body moves on instinct. I slip past Tohsaka to guard her back and at the same time brandish the twin Yin and Yang swords of Bakuya and Kanshou. The strain of the rapid double projection sears my Magic Circuit and it feels like I've just swallowed fire, but I bear it and make a single, smooth slashing motion with my weapons.

The snakelike creature splits apart at the seams and the pieces instantly disperse and fade to dust. Without pausing, I take Tohsaka by the arm and lead her back to higher ground. The relief I feel is short-lived and disappears when I lock eyes with Archer.

Crap. He saw me use projection magic. There's no way he didn't notice.

Quick. I need to make up an excuse. Um… damn. I'm no good when I get put on the spot like this.

"S-so what was that thing, anyway?" I ask shakily, hoping to buy myself some time to think.

Archer continues to stare at me and his hawk-like eyes seem to see right through me. To my surprise, however, he replies with an answer to my question. "A Crest Worm. It's a disgusting familiar that feeds on prana. They're useless except they can be implanted into a human body and act as an artificial Magic Circuit. The process is incredibly painful to the host, and drastically shortens their lifespan."

I'm confused by his straightforward answer. Rather than buying me time to think, I'm put even more off-kilter.

"Er… okay?" I blurt. "Um… why are those things down here then? And why are there so many of them?"

Archer sighs at me. "I truly pity that pea-sized brain of yours. I know it's difficult, but at least put it to use every once in a while. Recall the cage? Recall 'incredibly painful'?"

I ignore his condescending attitude. The gears in my head start to churn.

"You mean… this is like some kind of torture chamber?"

Archer rolls his eyes. I suppose that answers my question.

"But who would Zouken want to torture?" I wonder aloud. "And why?"

Archer scoffs at me and his lips quirk in disgust. "I can only guess at 'why', but 'who' is obvious. This is the Matou estate and I believe you are well acquainted with one particular Matou."

I don't follow him. "Shinji?" I ask. Then it hits me. No, it has to be Sakura. But… but that couldn't be. She would have said something…

Damn it. Did I ever know her at all? Is this why she…?

"What a fool," Archer snorts derisively. "You cling to your ridiculous ideal and prance around playing the hero but you're unable to save a single person, not even the ones closest to you."

That's it. He crossed the line. My head boils over and I can't think straight anymore.

"Shut up!" I scream at him. "Like hell I'm going to take that shit! Not from you! I guess that one time I kicked the crap out of you wasn't enough, eh?"

Archer quirks an eyebrow. "Oh? And when exactly did that happen?" He smiles at me and my blood runs cold.

Damn it. Damn him. He played me like a fiddle. I don't know how, but he knows. Or he guessed at it. Or maybe he's even bluffing. It doesn't matter at this point. He suspects me, and that's enough. I blew it. All I can do is hope he keeps his mouth shut long enough so that Tohsaka doesn't catch on and I can slip away before I make things any worse.

I try to think, grasping at any straws within my reach. Then I remember something.

"Tohsaka, you said we only have twenty minutes, right? It's been what… fifteen already? We should probably leave."

"I think we can spare a few more minutes," she replies. Her voice echoes from behind me. It strikes me as odd, because Tohsaka isn't one to take unnecessary risks. I turn to face her, but freeze in my tracks.

Tohsaka has her arm extended out at me and I feel familiar chill run up my spine. I recognize that cold, steely glint in her eyes. It's just like that time she ambushed me after school and tried to force me to give up my Command Spell.

She's ready to kill me. Damn it, she must have seen me use projection magic too.

"H-Hold on, Tohsaka," I yelp in panic. "We agreed to cooperate, right? It's not like you to betray an ally."

Tohsaka doesn't mince words. "You're not Emiya," she says calmly, poised to fire her Gandr Shot at any moment. "Just now, when you grabbed me, I sensed your magical distortion. You're a real magus, not just a wannabe like Emiya."

A wannabe? Ouch. I know I wasn't much to speak of before, but at least call me a "novice" or something.

Wait. Why am I worrying about such trivial things at a time like this? If I don't come up with an explanation, Tohsaka might seriously kill me.

But what excuse could I possibly come up with that isn't an obvious lie? Tohsaka can see through me without even looking me in the eye. It doesn't matter if she's "my" Tohsaka or not. Tohsaka Rin is still Tohsaka Rin. I can't win against her. I can't lie to her. I can't tell her the truth for the same reason. If I do, Rin will kill me.

"Tell me who you are," Tohsaka demands, making no effort to hide her murderous intent. "Do you serve Zouken? Did he command you to lure us here into a trap?"

I know it's inappropriate given the circumstances, but seeing the serious look on her face and the poise which she holds herself reminds me of why I admire the girl so much.

Geez, what am I thinking? Rin would scold me for failing to take a situation like this seriously. In the worst case, she might even consider it "cheating" and do something drastic, like castrate me.

That thought sobers me considerably.

"No," I say, hoping she doesn't mistake the quaver in my voice as a lack of sincerity. "I don't work for Zouken and I'm not your enemy. I really am Emiya Shirou."

Tohsaka clucks her tongue in disgust. "I don't care if you're my enemy or not, but there's no way I'm going to trust you if you insist on telling me obvious lies."

The Magic Crest on Tohsaka's arm activates with a burst of brilliant blue light. There's no time to think. I have to project a weapon to block her Gandr Shot. I picture a black and white shortsword in my mind and switch on my Magic Circuit.

"Rin, wait."

Both Tohsaka and I snap our heads at the prompt of the speaker. It's the knight in red whose presence I'd temporarily forgotten.

"Why did you stop me, Archer?" Tohsaka huffs in annoyance. "I never expected you would ever want to show an enemy lenience."

"I could care less what happens to that one," Archer says. He's looking at me and I stare back at him unflinchingly. Something like hate surges within me, and I can see he feels the same. In a way, it's reassuring; even now things haven't changed at all between us.

"I don't mind if you blow him to kingdom come," Archer continues, "but I just thought you should know: that boy is definitely Emiya Shirou."

"What?" Tohsaka blurts. She looks at him, then at me, and back to him again. "What are you talking about, Archer? Emiya-kun can't use projection magic that advanced. You saw the same thing I did: whoever that person is, he reproduced both of your swords. There's no way Emiya-kun is capable of such a thing, at least not without completely frying his Magic Circuit."

"I agree," Archer says without taking his eyes off of me. "Nevertheless, that person standing there is unmistakably Emiya Shirou."

Tohsaka seems torn. She glares at me with a pained look on her face. Then she turns back to Archer.

"How can you be so sure?"

Archer doesn't answer. His eyes simply continue to burn into me.

Knowing him, he probably already suspects something close to the truth even if he doesn't "know". If that's the case, then there's no point in hiding it any longer. I'll just have to accept the consequences from Rin when we meet up again later. In a way, it's more her fault than mine in the first place. If it weren't for her, we wouldn't even be in this mess.

…but, man… What's she going to do to me as punishment for blowing our cover?

I look at the Tohsaka in front of me and sigh in defeat. If I have to choose between taking my lumps from her now or my Rin later, I pick later.

"Tohsaka, let's go back to your house," I say. "I'll explain everything to you once we get there, but it isn't safe to talk in this place. It's a long story and our time's almost up. We'll have problems if Zouken gets alerted that we're here."

Tohsaka continues to glare at me and I can tell she isn't convinced.

"I promise you that I have no ill intentions towards you. Well… maybe Archer but not you, Tohsaka. I swear I would never doing anything to hurt you. Though… honestly, part of the reason for that is because I know you'd come back and hurt me twice as much in retaliation."

As I finish, I see that Tohsaka's face flush bright red. Damn, I shouldn't have added that last part. Now she's pissed. Even if she believes me, she might fire a Gandr Shot out of spite. I wonder if she's even aware of the irony that she'd only be proving my point.

"A-Anyway, let's get going, okay Tohsaka?" I insist before she can lash out at me. "I already promised I won't betray you and you have Archer for insurance. Besides, even if I'm a little better than you thought, you're still a much better magus than me and could take care of me just by yourself, right? I'm fine even if you want to call me a hostage. I know I'm no match for you."

I inwardly sigh in relief as my words seem to placate her.

"F-fine," she stutters. Her face is still red but she isn't glaring at me anymore. "As long as you understand who's in charge of the situation."

…did she get embarrassed from my praise? Rin can certainly be a handful at times, but reactions like that remind me of how cute she can be.

Of course, even I'm not stupid enough to voice that thought aloud.

I head back up the stairs and am able to hold in my smile until I've walked past her. I almost reach the top before I notice she isn't following me. I turn and look at her questioningly.

"Aren't you coming, Tohsaka?"

She looks at me with a complex expression that I'm well acquainted with by now. It means she's impressed with me for a less than flattering reason.

"Okay, I believe that you're really Emiya-kun," she sighs in defeat. "Only a hopelessly good-natured idiot like you would turn his back on an enemy without a second thought."

It's a backhanded compliment that's really more of an insult, but I smile all the same. It's a relief to know that Tohsaka is still the prickly, proud, yet kind girl I've come to care for, even if she's not "my" Tohsaka.

"W-what are you grinning at?" she demands, growing even more flustered.

I relish her self-conscious reaction. Come to think of it, this situation might be fun for me because I already know all of her weaknesses, but she doesn't know mine yet.

"Nothing," I say wistfully, remembering how clumsy we both were with our feelings back then… and still are, really.

Well, it'll be fun getting a sort of revenge for all the times Rin teased me, but we have serious matters to attend to first.

That's right… I was being stupid. This was neither the time nor the place to be playing around.

I take a last look at the hellish room at the base of the stairs. I imagine Sakura being violated by the filthy, writhing worms. I can see Zouken, though I don't know what he looks like. He is a decrepit, misshapen old man with black, soulless eyes. He uses those eyes to calmly observe his adopted granddaughter being raped by those disgusting creatures and doesn't lift a finger when she cries out in agony and begs for mercy, for an end.

I clench a fist.

Even after all the warnings from "my" Tohsaka not to interfere, there's no way I can look away and pretend I didn't see any of these things anymore. Paradoxes be damned. If I turn my back now, then that's the same as abandoning my ideal. If I have to sacrifice my existence to uphold it, then so be it. An Emiya Shirou who has thrown away his ideal doesn't deserve to exist.

The doubt evaporates from my mind.

"Let's leave this awful place, Tohsaka," I say softly.

She stares blankly at me for a moment, but then shakes her head as if waking from a daze. She nods once in a swift, curt motion and follows me up the stairs. Unlike me, she doesn't look back. She doesn't have to. It's impossible not to hear the sound of the worms or taste the decay in the air. Even when we're clear of the Matou household and begin our trek uphill back to Tohsaka's home, the phantom scent of rotting flesh lingers with me. Tohsaka, Archer, and I walk in silence, each probably preoccupied by our own thoughts.

Tohsaka unlatches the front door when we reach her mansion. Without even thinking, I remove my jacket and place it on the coat rack near the door out of habit. I feel Tohsaka's eyes on me.

"So? I'm waiting for that explanation you promised me."

I turn to her and nod. "I know. Like I said, though, it's a long story. Maybe some tea before we start?"

I make the suggestion less out of courtesy and more because I'm eager to wash the taste of bile from my mouth.

Tohsaka explodes. "Who's house do you think this is? If you want tea, then go make it yourself!"

I just look at her and shrug. "Okay."

I make my way to the pantry and rummage around until I find the particular tea Rin enjoys. It's an exotic Chinese leaf that I've become rather partial to, myself. As I prepare the hot water, I look and her out of the corner of my eye and see that her mouth is agape with incredulity. Even if she suggested it, I doubt she expected me to actually make tea. Stifling a chuckle, I take out the tea set we always use a few minutes later I'm pouring her a cup. Of course, I don't bother offering Archer anything.

The look on Tohsaka's face is priceless. She just stares at her cup without drinking it. I take a seat on the comforter across from her and start to sip at my own cup.

Hmm. I did a pretty good job. Even Tohsaka can't complain if it tastes that good.

"Are you insane? Don't barge into another person's house and start acting like you own the place!"

I weather her tantrum while desperately trying to contain a fit of laughter just aching to burst from my stomach.

"Wait. How did you even know where I keep it? It's like you already knew where everything is."

…that's because I do, Tohsaka. I can hardly be your apprentice without getting familiar with your workshop, can I? Gosh, this is even more fun than I thought it would be.

"Never mind that," I say. "You should hurry and take a sip. It won't taste as good if it gets cold."

She opens her mouth to yell at me again, but seems to think better of it. Her cup draws level with her eyes as she squints at it suspiciously.

"I didn't poison it," I tell her, reading her thoughts. "I'm drinking it too, aren't I? Besides, you watched me the whole time I was making it."

Tohsaka glares at me so intensely I'm surprised that I don't burst into flames. I just smile at her pleasantly. It feels so great with the shoe being on the other foot.

"Fine. Then give me yours," she says. It's somewhat paranoid of her, but she still suspects I might be an enemy, after all.

"Sure," I say with a shrug and offer her my cup. I exchange it with the one I gave her and take a sip to prove I didn't poison it.

She frowns at me but finally draws the cup to her lips. Her eyes widen. "It's good," she blurts out.

"Isn't it, though?" I say with a laugh. I wait until she takes a longer sip before I spring the final trap. "Incidentally, Tohsaka, isn't that what you'd call an indirect kiss?"

The tea comes spraying out of her mouth, as expected. I take a mental photograph and file it away in my mind to enjoy later at my leisure.

"W-what are you saying, you idiot?"

Tohsaka slams her cup on the table and leaps to her feet, rolling up her sleeve. Her Magic Crest glows faintly. It isn't fully activated like it was before, which means she's only threatening me. But I know Tohsaka well enough to be aware she always makes good on her threats if you provoke her.

I probably went too far with that finishing blow.

"S-sorry," I say as I bow my head to her, only because she might blow me away unless I start acting with a little more humility. Pushing her this far was completely worth it, though. I have no regrets, even if I die right then and there.

"You've had your tea, so start talking," Tohsaka growls. She doesn't lower her arm.

I take a breath and nod before looking her straight in the eye. I had my fun. Now I have to make good on my promise.

"Tohsaka," I begin, forcing my voice to take on a serious tone. "What do you know about The Fifth Magic?"

She frowns at me and her brow furrows. "Um… time manipulation, right? It's one of the five sorceries. But what does…"

Her voice trails off and there's astonishment in her eyes. "No way…"

"That's right, Tohsaka," I confirm happily. "I'm from the future." I pause for a second. "No, that's not quite right. I should really say I'm from 'a' future."

I take another mental photograph. Ah… priceless.