Disclaimer: I don't own them, Type-Moon and Nasu does.

Author's Notes: This story might rape the Nasuverse cannon more than a little. Also, be forewarned, this story is greatly inspired by 80's buddy cop movies like "Lethal Weapon". So expect lots of violence, things blowing up, fights, witty dialogue, and maybe some questionable adult content at latter venues.

The Hound and the Blacksmith

The First Tale: The Hound and the Blacksmith

By Elf


In Which Things Are (Somewhat) Explained

London, England

There will be a massacre.

Archer gritted his teeth as his empty hands curled and uncurled, itching for the feel of leather and steel between palms and fingers. A deep breath was drawn in, but the urge for blades was not quelled. Yet he stood there, silently watching the proceedings. However if one wrong word was uttered blood would be spilled.

The proceedings were like sharks circling as if blood had been spilled, the slightest sign of weakness would bring on a frenzy. Magi from around the world were gathered, watching sharply for signs of weakness and ready to pounce. Their prey had something they all wanted either it be her lands, her magical talent to improve their own dying blood lines, or to sate their own lusts on her gorgeous, youthful form.

Tohsaka Rin stood proudly though, even though he knew well enough that she was terrified. The Mage's Association was judging her on the events of what had happened during the Fifth Grail War. Archer figured they were full of questions, after all one Servant had been made corporeal and was now the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation, two were made living flesh and blood again, and a living prana furnace was fueling another to keep from burning herself out. Then there was the fact that world had almost ended, the Third Magic had been realized and a bastardized version of the Second battled a twisted version of the Third, and there was a small matter of a Sealer being murdered by the War's Moderator.

Archer had a feeling that they were going to pass judgment and give Rin "options". If that happens, they're all dead.

"Now, boy the Association might be a giant mess, but it's in no need of a cleaner yet," a deep, rolling male voice with a heavy Germanic accent said from behind him.

He spun around and felt his eyes widen to the point where he swore they were going to bulge from their sockets. The speaker was shorter than Archer with grey hair and a sharply trimmed beard. His features were angular with a squared jaw and a hawk like nose and he wore a necklace with precious gems and had two rings on each hand. Black robes fell to the floor, finishing the picture perfect image of the ancient Magician before him.

"Zelretch," Archer whispered with a shake of his head.

Eyes like the rubies in his necklace met Archer's as a slow smile spread across his face. "No Lord Marshall, Shirou?" Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg asked with a slight smile.

Archer folded his arms across his chest and said, "You're use to magi bowing and scraping at your feet in half fear and half respect. I'd wager you're annoyed about it after a couple of centuries."

"True," Zelretch said, "However, you're close to a Wizard yourself, or at least damned good proof that the Third still exists."

Archer swallowed and said, "Ilya wasn't trying to bring me back as well."

"I think the von Einzbern homunculus just wanted her 'Onii-chan' alive and happy. She did house your soul in her. If anyone knew you, it was her," Zelretch replied.

"What are you doing here, Old Man? Waiting to see what sentence they pass on Rin?" Archer replied as he smothered the anger at the Wizard's words.

Zelretch lifted one rather bushy eyebrow and answered, "And the resulting massacre because someone's too overprotective, yet doesn't have the cajones to makes a confession."

It's not that obvious, Archer thought as he looked to where Rin was standing. She looked so small and so alone in the center of magi who were sitting in archaic chairs while she stood. The red suit she was wearing was a bit awkward on her slim frame and her long, raven hair was pulled back into a heavy bun. The image was so different than the one he was use to with his former Master. An urge to run up to her, pull her hair free and carry her from her accusers was even stronger than the one to take swords in hand.

Then again, Tohsaka Rin has always proven to be a weak spot for me after she Summons me, Archer thought. His eyes narrowed at the Wizard and he said, "That's really none of your business."

"Honestly, I'd never think that anyone of Nagato's line would have came as far as she had, but given a few decades there might be a new Master of the second," Zelretch said with a shake of his head, "Not to mention the Servant she Summons happens to be from an alternate reality as well."

Archer gritted his teeth and said, "All that magic won't mean a thing if they take it from her or worse."

"Which is why I'm here," Zelretch said as he reached out to pat Archer's shoulder, "I'm going to save my most promising apprentice and mess with the Association. This is what I call a good day."

He blinked as the ancient Dead Apostle started to move past him. He met the man's crimson eyes and said, "You're not what I expected."

"And you need to stop brooding," Zelretch said before moving towards the group of magi assembled as they were about to pass sentence on Rin.

Fuyuki City, Japan

"So, you didn't have to kill anyone, did you, Archer?" Misty violet eyes looked up with the tiniest hint of a smile before a lock of matching hair was tucked behind an ear.

Archer shook his head as he lifted the steaming pot of tea. He said, "No, Rin had an unexpected benefactor. Wizard Marshall Zelretch stood up for her, offered to take on some apprentices, and then Rin's lands and . . . herself were forgotten."

Matou Sakura pushed her teacup towards him and sighed, her slim shoulders drooping. She shook her head and asked, "What happened?"

"A couple of single male magi from prosperous families needing heirs were eyeing her more than she was comfortable with," Archer said with a shake of his head.

Sakura reached out and patted his hand. She said, "Thank you for going with her. I was afraid what would have happened if I would have asked Lancer to go."

"Lancer was just wanting to go in case of the slight chance he got to fight anyone," Archer said with a snort and a shake of his head. He held the tea pot steady as he filled both of their cups, the aromatic steam filling the room and his nostrils. The sweet smell relaxed tense muscles and the practice of pouring tea was almost as meditative as brewing it from the leaf.

Sakura's eyes gleamed as she grinned while picking up the pot of sugar and said, "That's why I asked you, well, and your feelings for Nee-san are pretty obvious."

Archer sighed and asked, "Why do people keep telling me that?"

"Maybe because I've found happiness with Sempai I want the man who helped save me happy too," Sakura said with a smile, "And maybe having a boyfriend might calm Nee-san down."

He chuckled and asked, "How is the punk?"

"And I thought I hated myself," Sakura said with a shake of her head, "He's going well. You know, maybe you and Nee-san should come over for dinner."

He smiled and said, "I'd think that might be a good idea."

"And you'd better make tea," Sakura said with a grin.

He said, "Of course, the kid's still at the point of using teabags."

"And you know how Nee-san reacts to tea from a teabag," Sakura said with a lopsided grin, "She thinks she's hiding the fact that her eyes narrow and her nose curls, but it's pretty obvious. Not to mention it scares Sempai."

He replied, "Hell, it scares me."

"Well, you were Sempai," Sakura said with a soft smile as her eyes met his.

Archer sighed and said, "Yeah, I know. Don't remind me."

"Now it's time for the brooding and cynicism. You know, maybe you need to do something other than being Nee-san's Servant," Sakura said as she stirred some cream in her tea.

Archer asked, "So, what does a former Counter Guardian and Servant do?"

"I might have an idea," Sakura said as she lifted her tea cup to her lips.