For Future Reference
Life and exams have nearly killed me. I have had recent revelations and groin kicks to my ego, and a bunch of other life changing events happen to me over the time between the last update. I also have survived a computer crash, random love issues, and the flu. And now I come to you with a VERY late update. Exams have been kicking my ass, but now I'm free. School is over. Life can continue at a happy pace.
I am now free to write fanfiction for about 2 months, and I want to get as much of Across the Multiverse done as soon as I can. Now…
Welcome to ATM Multi-Crossover Universe #17.
We highly recommend relaxing after a long day's trip of inter-dimensional travel.
One may find the Ahnenerbe Cafe beside Rift #7856 on the 4th known branch of the Multiverse.
Beware of megalomaniacs, magical girls, and weirdly dressed hitchhikers.
Otherwise, please enjoy your stay.
POV: Kouhei Takeda.
I stumbled through the rift, feeling my feet touch the ground once more.
My arm was still looped around my master's shoulder, as he hefted me up. I didn't know where we were, I still felt weak, dizzy like the last time I had done interdimensional travel. It felt like I had a hangover, of all things. It's not one of my best memories, but there was that one time where Gilgamesh had introduced me to the "wonders" of alcohol. A few bottles of booze later, and my father had "calmly" blown a fuse. That was the very first time I had experienced what my father called "cold rage". First thing he asked the man was the obvious: what was he thinking? Then we both had that moment when you realize something you should have realized before.
The era Gilgamesh came from had no such thing as a "legal drinking age". I felt like crap for hours.
I urge my feet into moving, using a hand to try and wipe away the drowsiness from my eyes. I turn my head in the general direction my master's head is in, a question running to the forefront of my mind. "Where are we?" I ask, moving my hand from my eyes and pressing it against my wound.
"Fuyuki City." I hear his gruff voice say to me.
"Different dimension, boy. We're meeting up with one of my old friends. I know for a fact that she's willing to part with some of her secrets, and perhaps she'll teach you some of them. But I also need her to tend to you. She'll know a few procedures to speed up the healing process, and as soon as you're healed, we'll get some of that teaching I promised in." He explained, urging me to move a bit faster.
I nod to him, groaning a bit as the wound seemed to pulse in pain.
"Still not fully healed, huh? No matter. We'll be there soon."
I sighed, continuing to walk as I tried to ignore the pain. It was hard, since the drowsiness made me a little more sensitive. I know that Kirei Kotomine wasn't my real father. But it still left a mark. If every universe could be strikingly similar but yet different... Was that the Kirei that could have been? Was that what my father could have ended up as? It was hard to even think of it. I sigh myself, speeding up my hobble. Emotional wounds left scars that took longer to go away then physical ones. But like physical ones...
There are some that don't go away at all.
I still can barely see by the time we enter the city. I don't know who we're looking for, or why I'm still standing here. The exact place I didn't know, but from the green shading I could barely see, I placed a bit of faith in an assumption that we were on the outskirts of Fuyuki. I see the figure of a building, and a door quickly comes up into my line of sight. I hear the creak of a doorknob, and my master ushers me in. It's dimmer in here, compared to the brightness of early afternoon.
Fatigue still plagues my chest, as I hear and see a figure come up to me.
"Fancy seeing you here. Is this your apprentice?" A voice, which seemed to belong to a woman, asked my master.
"Yes, he is. It's nice seeing you too. How's your sister?" My master's voice asks.
"Doing... Well." The other voice tentatively remarks with a hint of distaste. "So, what happened to him?"
"Wound to the clavicle. Can you help?"
"Get him to the table. I'll see what I can do."
My master urges me down what seems to be a hall, and into a room. He sits me down on what seems to be an operating table, and lies me down. I panic for a second, seriously unprepared for surgery. Why else would I be suddenly put on what seems to be an operating table? I feel my arms and legs being strapped down. I can't move. Drowsily, I turn my head to what seems to be my master.
"Get some rest Kouhei. It'll all be over soon."
And as I feel something slither into my neck, I can feel it all go darker...
Until it all fades to black.
I awaken in a bed, shirtless and still drowsy. What had happened? I remembered being knocked out by something, and now I'm here. I'm laying down in what seems to be an empty room, completely empty other than the bed that I lay on. Light reflected softly off the grey concrete walls, from a large window right beside my bed. I sit up, taking a look through the window.
I see a small grass courtyard, framed by what seems to be a two floored apartment building with balconies and walkways. And from what I can see, It's all empty, the grey sheen of concrete spanning over it all. No one's here. I remembered my master taking me here, and that other figure, that feminine voice. I turn my head, spotting my belongings resting in a corner.
I give a stretch, and then I notice the state of my chest.
A long thin X seems to cross over the initial scar over my collarbone, completely straight and even, done with what seems to be careful precision. I really had gone through surgery. Perhaps the damage done to my insides was worse than I thought. I push myself from my bed, and begin walking towards my belongings. I pull on a shirt, strap my bag to my back, and then make for the door.
I stepped into the hall, still as bleakly grey as the room I was in. My steps still have a stumble to them, so I stay close to the wall for balance. My steps take me towards the stairs, and I quickly descend. I hear the noise of something clinking throughout the halls, so I try to get closer to the sounds. My master and his apparent friend should be around here somewhere, exactly where, I don't know.
I ended up close to a door, hearing the noises come at full blast. What was once a clinking was now a full on hammering. The aged wooden door creaks open as I turn the knob, and I enter the room. The hammering falls silent.
"Hello?" I call out, taking in my surroundings.
It seems to be a workshop, a variety of tools blanketing the whole of one wall, strange materials covering the next. An operating table sits in the center of the dim room, a few small windows near the ceiling being the only sources of light. I walk over to the table, brushing my fingers on the cold metal. This seems to be some magus' workshop. It hurts to admit it, but it's far better in quality than mine. Mine's a shed. A shed.
This is industrial strength metal, covered in powerful and almost unnoticeable runes, and obviously costs more than everything in my shed. Including the shed. Yes, I feel very jealous. VERY jealous. I rub my jealousy away, putting it aside. I put my bag on the ground, so I can lean over and observe the table.
I freeze, as arms wrap around my neck. The smell of cigarette smoke and tobacco reaches my nose, and I try to ignore it as I turn my head. I look into red eyes that blink at me, glittering with both mirth and mischief. A fair, feminine face is what I see, a cigarette hanging from her lips. A hand reaches up from around me to brush away red hair, which is done up in a ponytail behind her head. She's about as tall as I am, resting her head on my shoulder. And her head isn't the only thing which is resting up against me…
My face turns as red as her hair, as I pull myself away.
A grin laces her face at the sight of mine. "Having fun there, Takeda Kouhei?"
I frown, placing distance between us by going to the other side of the table.
"Aw, don't be like that."
"Who are you, anyway?" I ask the woman, taking her image in. She's dressed in a white shirt with long sleeves, and long black pants.
"You shouldn't be asking a question like that to a person in her own workshop, you know."
I take another look around, still extremely impressed/a bit jealous. "This is all yours?" I breathe.
"All of it. Every single little thing. And for now to the next week, it's also yours."
I gape at her, my jaw hanging low.
"Your master seems to think you can benefit from what I have to teach you, and I do owe him a few favors. So I'll be teaching you a few things this week, and so we'll be working in here." She explained, sitting up on the table and taking a puff of her cigarette.
"... So you're my temporary master for the week."
"Pretty much." She sighed. "Now, let's start over, shall we?"
"... Okay." I say, blinking. She waves her hand, urging me to sit up on the table. I comply, still keeping my eyes firmly locked with hers.
"So..." She gestures for a name.
I'm starting to feel a bit silly. I hold out my hand with a sigh, and she takes it. "Kouhei Takeda. Nice to meet you." We shake.
"Didn't you ever hear that you put your last name first in an introduction?" She asks wryly, smirking.
"Force of habit." I smirk back.
"I like that about you, Kouhei Takeda." She takes another puff of her cigarette, and then as soon as she takes it out, she gives a soft smile. She fishes a pack of cigarettes from a pocket, opens it, and offers me one by flicking a single one out with her finger. I decline, pushing it in with a finger of my own. She pouts, putting the pack away. Our eyes lock again, this time, instead of hesitation, we have a friendly acknowledgement of each other. She shakes my hand with finality, and with a roll of her fingers, she takes yet another puff of her cigarette.
"Aozaki Touko. Nice to meet you too."
I sit across from the rather eccentric redhead who was to be my master for the week. At first, I wondered where my original master was, and what the hell was he doing. But then again, it was Zelretch. For the sake of my sanity, I really shouldn't question these things. After all, he's probably doing something so absurdly crazy with the Second Magic, that I probably wouldn't be able to understand in this lifetime. If most of his legacy was correctly interpreted, then he is definitely doing something crazy.
I look down on what Aozaki Touko wants me to examine. It's a small little gear, fashioned out of what I can tell is iron. I take it between my index finger and my thumb, and it's about the size of a coin. I flip it around, spinning it as I feel the teeth brush against the pads of my fingers. I don't know what Touko wants me to do with it, though. I am curious, there has to be some sort of thing special about it, otherwise I doubt that she would tell me to examine such an insignificant little thing.
"What do you think you can do with it? What do you think it's used for?" My temporary master asks.
"Um… I guess it's good enough for mechanisms, like a clocks, or maybe toys…" I answer, still fiddling with the gear.
"Anything else? What else can that gear be used for?"
"… I've got nothing." I admit to her.
She sighs, waving her hand in a circular gesture, "Can't you think outside the box for a bit? Give me anything, no matter how unorthodox."
"Er… Jewelry?" I put an answer out there, "Anything steampunk?"
"Decent answers. How can that gear be implemented in thaumaturgy?"
"Hm… The composition of the gear could be used in a number of things, perhaps runes. The gear itself, if augmented, could power a few mechanisms that help in thaumaturgy. Clockwork implemented in magecraft is popular, considering the name of the Association's big three."
She nods, a faint smile on her face. "Good, any other things that come to your mind?"
"I'm out of ideas, to be honest." I tell her.
"Well, that's good enough." She takes a small book hidden in a pocket of her pants, places it on the cold steel of the operating table, and then slides it towards me with a flick of her hand. The book meets no resistance, and lands with a soft thud in the palm of my left hand. "Read that, will you? It'll help."
It seems to be a small guide to clockwork and runework. "What's this for?"
"You'll see. Just a simple little project I want you to cover in your spare time." She explains.
"So… What now?"
"We wait for a friend of mine." She tells me, taking a lighter out and fiddling with it. She has a bothered expression on her face, as if she was impatient. "Damn guy is taking too long." She was impatient.
"So, where's my master?" I ask her.
"Off somewhere in Fuyuki. I think he's café hopping again, that friend I mentioned probably saw him. They frequent the same place often. And that friend is probably slacking off as well… He was supposed to be here an hour ago, damn it. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't show up for a while longer."
"So… My master and your friend practically ditched us?"
"He's not exactly a friend, more like a coworker… But yes, they ditched us." She leaned back in her seat, groaning a bit with her head reared to the ceiling. "I blame it on the lack of customers…" She mutters.
"Customers?" I raise an eyebrow.
She turned her head back down to look at me. "Didn't your master explain anything?"
I shake my head.
"Figures." She pinched the bridge of her nose, "Just like Zelretch to leave out key details."
"So, customers for what?" I ask her, interested.
"You could call it a detective agency of sorts, one that deals with the supernatural and the paranormal." She explains, twirling a finger in the air. Where have I seen that before? Images of a certain red loving temperamental magus leave my head, as another question comes to the forefront of my mind.
"Who lives here?" I ask. "Just you?" There was a lot of space here, and as devoid of life as it looks, there could be people I haven't met yet still living here.
She shakes her head. "That coworker of mine, his younger sister, myself, and now you two are the only people here."
I sigh myself. I want to ask about what she did to my collarbone, but it's not something that I can easily bring up. The scar is still there, but it no longer hurts anymore. Maybe I'll ask my master about it, he was probably there overlooking the operation. Now, I just need to rest, I guess.
Touko leans back in her seat once more, fishing a book out of somewhere. She flips the cover back, and begins to read. After about a minute, she notices, my gaze, then gestures with her book to the book on the table.
"Get reading. You'll need it."
From what I can understand about the topic, it's pretty simple stuff in this book. It's basic clockwork, just powered with parts energized by either mana or od in the place of a mainspring. The power exerted by the energized parts lasts significantly longer than clockwork powered by a mainspring, with a higher torque output. Magecraft-clockwork could substitute for a battery or other source of power, and is more easily sustained than other sources of energy.
Hm… That gives me an idea.
If the power output in magecraft-based clockwork is significantly more powerful than regular clockwork, then one can use magecraft-based clockwork to power elaborate machinery on par with that of technology useable with powerful amounts of mundane electricity. So this is what powers the technology that runs the mechanical elements of the Clock Tower. It might even be safe to say that this form of technology IS the base of all of Clock Tower's non-magecraft use technology in the first place. The organization is labeled Clock Tower, after all, who's to say they don't use clockwork?
Now, modern technology can't hope to utilize too much high power in mobile technology without finding a proper power source without hooking said technology to an external power source or hulking around a hefty little battery. A cell phone's battery is good enough to power its basic functions, but one can't possibly hope to power something like a huge fighting robot with it without the power of fiction. With the right materials and the proper power sourcing, one could use a magecraft based power source to make a huge fighting robot possible via mundane methods.
One could use magecraft to make a giant robot that runs on magecraft's rules, such as using magics to lift and control its parts like a really damn big puppet. It's possible on magecraft's rules, but not on mundane rules. But if magecraft is the use of the rules of magic to emulate the rules of the mundane, why can't it be the other way around? Why can't you use the mundane to emulate that which is not? I understand that those people at Clock Tower have a point of view that sticks with the familiar being the most safe, and the "pure" being of highest regard. The unfamiliar modern mundane technology and innovation is considered inferior to the advancements made by thaumaturgy and the familiar mundane technologies of the past, so the thought of mixing the two would easily be considered impure.
But if one were to mix the two…
I could use magecraft to power that which is mundane, and perhaps I can use the mundane to power that which is magical.
As my ideas take root, I flinch a little as a feeling rubs at the back of my head, sending a slight shiver down my spine. Touko and I share a look, and a question I was about to ask was answered. One, there was a Bounded Field here set to notify those within it if something happened to it. Two, it was triggered, something probably crossing the line. At first I prepared for battle, mentally readying myself. A short look from my temporary master told me that my first notion was wrong.
The things crossing were friendly.
It had been about two hours since the start of the "lecture", and Touko got up from her seat. She gave a stretch, drawing my attention to her… Er… Assets.
With a faint redness shading my cheek, I quickly dive back into my reading.
"Come on, I'll introduce you." Touko tells me, gesturing with her head towards the door. I get up and stretch myself, as feeling seems to return to my sleeping legs. She's already out the door by the time I catch up with her. We walk through the dimly lit hall, and I take a better look of my surroundings. This place seemed less abandoned, more like unfinished. The barebones of the apartment were here, but no aesthetics. Kind of like a slightly muscled skeleton.
Believe me, I know what I'm talking about.
We enter the foyer, just a larger room with a few seats, sofas, random furniture littered about. I spot a desk occupied with a computer, and another table with a decently sized TV hooked into the wall. I guess this is the main office of Touko's detective agency. I plop my butt into a sofa, flinching a bit as I sink in further than I'm used to. Everything here was pretty old, other than the stuff that was obviously brought in. Touko takes a seat at another chair, staring out the glass doors of the apartment.
Two people enter through the clear door, bags of what seem to be groceries in hand. One was a young black haired, blue eyed man, decked completely in black, wearing glasses and was around my age. Behind him was a girl, black haired black haired and blue eyed like the man, but she also seemed to be around my age, or at least a bit older than Caren. The two waved at Touko, who raised a hand and waved them over.
As soon as the man reached her, she dove at him. He flinched with a cry of surprise, but kind of relaxed after he realized her true target. Touko had her arm shoved into one of the bags, fishing around for something. A cry of victory met my ears as she triumphantly pulled out a smaller bag. It was filled with a bunch of red boxes, and suddenly I knew what she was so excited for.
I don't know whether to be a little surprised or worried a bit. At the rate my temporary master goes through cigarettes, she'll end up the same as Kiritsugu Emiya. No matter how good a magus you are, when you do that kind of thing to your body, you probably won't survive. It was a big shock about five years ago. No one expected it. I felt sorry for his family, as he just died so suddenly. Hell, the Clock Tower was in an uproar. When such a renowned/infamous magi dies so suddenly, people doubted he was dead. Heck, most of Clock Tower fears he'll come back to life and kill them in their sleep.
But the cold hard truth was that Kiritsugu Emiya died of lung cancer. From smoking up a storm during the Fourth Grail War.
No bullets, no glorious battle to the end. Just dying a weakened man surrounded by family and friends. His will passed on to a young boy who is now becoming a great guy in his own right. Yeah, Kiritsugu would be proud of his son. Then again, the guy will probably catch the attention of Clock Tower in the future, considering his heritage. With the identities of both of our fathers to think about, I should be expecting some action to be taken for us or against us when the time comes that they find out which relatively (in)famous individuals we happen to be related to in some way.
Well, at least we'll have some support to help us through our obstacles. I'll have my family and Zelretch, and I'm fairly sure Shirou's got one Tohsaka Rin by his side. He has already gained her slightly divided attention. I pity him. I pity him so much. The space under Rin's scrutiny is like a wasteland. Nothing can grow there, and anything that tries but cannot persist will go up in flames.
The man, Touko's friend, sighed as he set the bags of groceries on a seat, turning to me. His eyes widen in recognition from behind his glasses. He raises his hand out to me, and I politely shake it.
"Kokutou Mikiya, nice to meet you, Kouhei."
"Likewise." I reply, as the recently identified Mikiya nods with a smile. He seemed pretty friendly. I turn to the girl who eagerly followed him. From what Touko told me, this was his younger sister, following him with vigor like Caren had when we were kids. I kind of miss it. Not really, since I have more privacy. At least my friends and the general populace don't know we used to take baths together. If they did know, I'd die of embarrassment. That, or Caren would steal my Black Keys and use them to disembowel me. Then I'd die.
Mikiya turned to his sister, pointing towards me. "Introduce yourself, Azaka."
The girl had paid me little mind earlier, but at her brother's insistence, she gave me a curt bow. "Kokutou Azaka." She said quickly, before her attention snapped back to him…
I sense a kind of complex here… A disturbance in my moral force… Well, I'm tolerant of this kind of thing and I won't judge. That still doesn't quell the awkwardness. Touko sensed my awkward feelings, and then walked over to us. She plucked a cigarette from a pack, eagerly trying to light it.
"So, anything new?" She asked Mikiya.
"Well, I've found a case."
Touko perks up at the sound of employment, and a smile grows on her face. "What kind of case? Can we work on it soon?" She asked, so eager for the answer she hadn't yet lit her cigarette. If it's something paranormal/supernatural, this should prove interesting.
"Just a haunting, a Wraith's wreaking a bit of havoc at some private school. The local priest is having a rough time dealing with it."
"So, what's it doing? Is it like that last case, with the animals-"
"Nah, it's just doing throwing about furniture, frightening students, it's doing things straight out of a children's book. It's not going to hurt anyone, but the priest's still freaking out about it. I've never seen a member of the Church so uptight and paranoid."
You know, that sounds like a priest I know… But it couldn't be…
"Where is it? We can take Kouhei along, it'll be good for his training."
"Ah… Lemme see…" He pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket, and his sister peers over his shoulder at it.
"So, where is it?" I ask him, now curious myself.
"Just some place called Saint Paulo Miki Private High School."
Everyone turns to me, raising their eyebrows as my jaw dropped to the floor. Shock draped over my face, then wonder, then surprise, then a bunch of other emotions that accumulated into a giant moment of WTF. Wow. I did not expect this. Though I did expect Father Tsurugi to freak out like this... I didn't think he would call for outside help, I'd expect him to charge in with his claymore and start breaking things that do anything scary.
"Something wrong?" Touko asks.
"Oh, nothing… I guess I'm going back to school."
I stood before the gates of Saint Paulo Miki Private High School, tugging on the collar of this damn stuffy suit. It's Mikiya's, and it's a miracle it fits me. Touko and Mikiya stand beside me, decked out in the same clothes they had on earlier. Our cover is that we're architects, scouting out the library (where the Wraith was apparently seen) for renovations. The library in my world really did need renovations, and I guess this one does too.
"So, we find and deal with the Wraith?" I ask Mikiya.
"Yeah, and then we do that scouting work."
I raise my eyebrow. "Why?"
"Touko here's an a architect, so might as well take advantage of the fact that there are two paying jobs at the same place and time." He explains, as we wait for a teacher to open the gates for us. He turns to talk to Touko as I adjust the bracelet on my wrist. I wonder how everyone's doing back home? Maybe I'll see someone I know in this universe? Heck, I don't really know the difference between this universe and the others.
The gate slides open, and I stare into the eyes of Father Tsurugi.
"So, you're the people?" He asks, fidgeting with something in the folds of his robes. I see a small flash of metal, that of a blade. He had a sword at the ready, prepared for a fight at any second. Father Tsurugi made for a better Executor rather than a priest. But he didn't like fighting, even when he was so damn good at it. Paranoia added, along with eccentric habits, and the fact that he was so jumpy… Yeah, being a priest was probably the best option.
Touko nods, holding up a zippered binder. "I've got everything I need here. We'll get the job done completely, and then leave."
Father Tsurugi turns to me. "You seem… Familiar. Have we met before?"
I shake my head. "No, sir." I answer as politely as I can muster. Maybe an alternate Kouhei Takeda was on the grounds right now… Father Tsurugi gives me a calculating look, as if evaluating me.
"You look so young… Old enough to be a student here… And so familiar…" He narrows his eyes, probably thinking I was a student skipping out of class.
"Well, I'm not a student here." At least not in this universe.
The jumpy priest relaxes, and then gestures with his hand into the school. "Well, welcome then. Feel free to look around, but try to make your business quick."
We step into the grounds of the school, and I take a look around. It's exactly like the school back home, no real differences from what I can tell. I peer into windows, and I can see students listening to lectures from familiar teachers, some were writing notes, others doing work, and others trying to feign interest. Just like back home. I miss my friends already… I consider trying to go to my old homeroom, to see if I was there. But it probably wouldn't be the best option…
I take a look at a clock inside one of the classrooms as I fall into step behind Mikiya. There's about a few more minutes before lunch starts. And I'm feeling a bit hungry myself… It's Wednesday today, they have those sushi platters from the supermarkets in today. Haven't had those in weeks, since I spent so much time in the library at lunch helping Christopher cram some extra studies in…
Father Tsurugi leads us into the school building, and down a hall. I notice some teachers and students looking at us, but they turn away at the sight of Father Tsurugi. It was impolite to stare at someone's guests. It felt weird though. I should be sitting down at one of those desks, studying my butt off. Now, I'm worlds away having the adventure of a lifetime. It was so worth it.
"Here we are." Father Tsurugi points towards a door, which I knew belonged to the library. "This as far as I go."
I knew he wouldn't take another step forward from where he stood. Mikiya and Touko began talking towards the library, and I followed. I adjust the bracelet on my left wrist a bit; making sure it was in the perfect position to quickly draw Black Keys. I don't know what they would do to Wraiths, but they were Keys of Providence. They should at the very least have some minor effect. Hopefully they would.
I step into the library, taking a look around. Row upon row of shelves met my eyes, donning books of every kind. Touko sat upon the librarian's desk, opening her binder. Pages upon pages of runes were inside, and resting on top of them all was what appeared to be a silver knife. She tossed the knife to Mikiya, while she flipped through the pages.
"So, what do we do now?" I ask Touko, pulling up a chair beside a shelf.
"We wait for the Wraith to show up."
I remember various minor exorcisms I've attended with Father and Caren, most of which were simple events involving reverse necromancy, Bounded Fields, and baptisms or blessings. This… This seemed pretty complicated. Then again, those spirits I've seen exorcised were just minor apparitions and records of the human soul. This Wraith had control over the physical world. It could influence and possibly hurt, and worst case scenario, possibly kill.
This wasn't going to be a walk in the park.
"How long is that going to take?"
Touko shrugs, continuing to flip through notes. She tosses me a poster, which told students to stay out of the library. "Set that up on the door." She ordered me, as Mikiya began to patrol the library, pausing every few steps to place a rune here and there. I stand from my seat, and head out for the door. I set it up on the door, taping it to the painted wood.
"Seriously, how long is this going to take?" I ask her again, making back toward my chair.
"Don't know. It'll show up when it shows up. At usual, it'll wait till there are less people around, and since lunch is starting soon, I doubt it'll show up until later."
I sigh, as I sit down. A book catches my attention, and I swipe it off the shelf. Time to play the waiting game, I guess. I'll try to be patient, but it was kind of disappointing. I thought we would get right into the thick of things, so I had prepared completely. But now, I tried my best to lower my guard, and relax. When I'm not relaxed, I do stupid things. And while I'd love to get away with doing stupid things at school, I really, really shouldn't.
As soon as I flick the cover back, my stomach grumbles.
Touko raises an eyebrow at me, an amused expression growing on her face. "Told you so. You should have eaten before we left."
I grumble, deciding to bear with it until later. I try to begin reading but as soon at I finish the first sentence, the book was swiped out of my hands. I slightly narrow my eyes at the red haired woman as she kept my reading material out of reach. She just smiles down at me. "Just go get something at the cafeteria, ask a teacher for directions or something if you don't know how to get there." She advised me, setting my book back into the shelf.
And that was why I sat in the cafeteria, ignoring funny looks as students stared at the guy who was a student's age and wore a suit, sitting alone and awkwardly eating the classic Wednesday sushi. I try to spot some friends, but they were probably eating in class. A small smile grows on my face as I see some girls gush at me. It's extremely flattering.
I prod a piece of sushi, as I take a look around. I loosen the damn tight tie from my neck, and remove the jacket. A relief washes over me as I can finally move and breathe properly. Girls gush. Ego is stroked even further. Some guys that I recognize glare at me. Yes, this rarely happened back at school. Then again, I simply spent time with friends holed up in the classroom, or on the roof, and I often looked like crap due to late night experiments draining me of sleeping time.
Now I have proper sleep, good looking clothes, and now a satisfyingly full belly. I'm off to a good start. I relax, just looking around the flow of students. Right as I was about to leave, a rather beautiful girl sits down across from me. Our eyes meet, and I take in their light brown color. Curly brownish-black hair flows down to her shoulders, framing a rather pretty face. A smile is on her petite lips, and she says:
"Nice to meet you."
For a second I freeze, and then gather myself quickly. I don't recognize this girl, but she seems to be a third year at this school. I'd honestly remember meeting such a pretty girl, but her face seems to trigger no memories. Seriously, I don't know her. Well, I don't know all of my classmates either, but that's not the point. I believe I should remember Christopher or another one of my friends flirting with the girl in front of me. Hm.
"Nice to meet you too." I reply.
"So, what brings you to this school?" She asks, opening up a small platter of sushi.
"I'm here with an aunt of mine, I'm going to help her design the renovations to the library." I reply to her question, and crack open a can of soda.
"You work? Why would a person our age work already?"
I snort. "Is my age that obvious?"
She smiles. "No, but you just told me what I need to know."
I blink. She's good. "Hm. I really am actually seventeen, going on eighteen." I tell her.
"So, why are you working? Shouldn't you be in school right now?"
Technically, I am in school right now. Just in another universe. "I've got a career ahead of me, and I decided to pursue it now instead of waiting. Might as well get some early experience."
She quickly eats a piece of sushi, and then shoots off another question. "So, how's that doing for you?"
I shrug. "Pretty well, I guess. Life is… Good." I answer. "What about you? How's life and school?"
Now she shrugs. "Good… Among other things."
My eyes glance towards a clock on the wall. Soon, the church bells would ring to signify lunch being over. I can handle the trigger to my magecraft fairly well, but it'll be kind of hard to focus with all of these people around me. I might suddenly start twitching a little, or sweat… That's why I never really hung around others near the end of lunch. I kinda started to panic, looking a bit nervous.
"So, what does an attractive girl like you want with something like me?" I ask her, trying to find out her motives.
"It's a free world, and this seat was open." She smirks. Still got nothing here. "And an "attractive" girl like me seems to find some interest in why an attractive magus like you is on school grounds."
I should have known. My eyes slightly narrow, now suspicious. "So that's why. How'd you know?" I ask her.
"You reek of prana use." She tells me, "Mana seems to cling to you, and I can tell you've been using magecraft lately, and something that has prana in it is pulsing somewhere around your neck."
My hand drifts subconsciously to my collarbone, feeling around the scar. This girl was good. It would have taken me a bit of time to figure these things out. "I'm not here to do anything to the school or its students." I assure her.
"I wouldn't say the same for that Wraith, though."
"Hm, so now you know everything." I sighed, looking her in the eye.
She smiles, seemingly satisfied. While we had talked, she had finished her lunch, and now we were just looking at each other and divulging in conversation. With newfound confidence, I decide to push up a maneuver I rarely, notably NEVER, attempted to try.
"So, a pretty girl like you should have somebody in her life." I muse, leaning forward the same way I've seen people do in movies.
"Oh? And what parts of me do you think are pretty?"
Winging it! "Well, your eyes for one… Your hair for another…. That face of yours… And also that voice." I tell her, gesturing subtly with my hand to each of the features I notice. Well, I neglected a few, but I'm sure as hell not going to talk about those.
She giggles a bit, blushing. "You flatter me, sir." She reaches a hand up to twirl her hair with her fingers. With a heavy, intentional sigh, she looks at me. "You don't give yourself enough credit. You're good looking guy in your own right."
Now it's my turn to blush before this really pretty girl. Oh why couldn't I have met her in my universe? I would have gotten to know her in a heartbeat. I think Caren would like her. I surely do.
"Then, may I have a name to match a pretty face?" I smile as warmly as I can. Oh man, I can't believe this is working! It's actually working! Wow, so the first time I ever try flirting with a girl, and I'm succeeding.
She smiles at me, a slight redness dressing those pale cheeks.
"Kyouko Takeda-Kotomine. It's been very nice to meet you."
Oh my lord.
It's impossible. Yes, it should be impossible. Oh no. Oh fuck it. FUUUUUUUUUUUCK. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!
I reserve the right to swear up a storm. Because how often do people end up accidentally flirting with themselves? Oh god, I flirted with myself. Even if it was myself from another dimension, I flirted with myself. You don't do these kind of things! I feel so weird right now. I thought of myself, or a variation of myself in THAT way… Oh no…
Okay, there should be a chance that this could be some other girl who isn't a variation of me. Hopefully that's the case. HOPEFULLY. OH MAN, WHAT HAVE I DONE?
I pray to you God, prove my thoughts wrong!
My already dropped jaw hit the floor.
A silver haired girl just glomped the girl sitting across from me. With fluttering golden eyes, she nuzzled against Kyouko lovingly. The beauty I flirted with simply smiled, hugging the rather familiar silver haired girl with similar warmth. Okay God, if what I have done was a sin, then please smite me now. I recognized the silver-haired girl instantly. Please prove me wrong, please probe me wrong…
"Caren-chan!" She squealed.
I am this close to having a Blue Screen of Death moment. My computer ran Windows, and I had one Blue Screen of Death once. Panicked, and then nearly fainted. Like I am doing so now.
"Onee-chan, don't flirt with this guy! Issei-nii won't like it if you cheat on him!"
… Cheat? This version of myself has a boyfriend who I may or may not kill? I feel suddenly very protective of this relatively "vulnerable" version of myself. Hm. Maybe I'll shift my priorities around a little.
"So, what's your name?" Kyouko asks me, turning away from her, our, younger sister.
I decide to push a lie. I struggle to get the words out of my mouth a bit, almost having to spit them out. I really didn't to say them, but they were the quickest reply that drifted into my head while it currently ran blank. So I lied, with the one name I thought I would never use again.
"Kouhei… Kouhei Nishio."
Shock lined her eyes, as we both turned away awkwardly. She knew what Nishio meant to me, to us. For a second, we were silent while she evaluated me again. Perhaps she could see some similarities of me to a man that was long dead in our hearts. Her eyes widened a slight bit, as conflict seemed to dance in her irises. She has a suspicion of who I might be.
Then surprise drapes over her, and then the initial panic. Then the possible Blue Screen of Death. And finally, her jaw drops. A question reaches her lips, and it's completely different from what I thought she would ask.
"Are you my brother?"
I sat in the library, looking down at a piece of paper with an address on it. It's the address to Kyouko's house. My house. Wow, some similarities.
I didn't answer her question, I just took a sheet of paper she handed to me, nodded to whatever she said, and then ran like hell away. When I read the paper, it was an invitation to dinner. In my own house. Wow, how awkward... Touko sat over in another seat, smoking up a storm. Mikiya was reading a magazine in another corner, the silver knife waiting within his reach.
"Something on your mind?" Touko called out to me, putting out her latest cigarette in an ashtray by her side.
"I need therapy." I groan.
"I'm a licensed therapist." She whistles, flicking out yet another white stick from a pack.
"I don't want you doing it. You'll probably just make it worse." I note, lounging back awkwardly in the plastic library chair. I didn't feel like talking about it, especially to someone like her.
"Good, that's not supposed to be my job." She smirked, then took YET another swig of her legalized drugs. "Zelretch is supposed to do that for me."
As if that walking Deus Ex Machina could help me at this point. I fiddle with the bracelet strapped to my left wrist, staring up at the white painted ceiling as the time ticked by. I wondered when I was going to see some action, as I muttered away profanity after profanity. As the hand on the clock hanging from the wall inched closer and closer to the time I was supposed to go to my house- I mean, Kyouko's house, I resisted the urge to shoot the thing on the spot, and/or go postal with the shitstorm going on in my head.
So… My female self is in a relationship. The guy's quite possibly dead. Cause of death shall either be cyanide-laced laxative trail mix, eight long and pointy swords that smite horrendous insults to God, or the good old shotgun blast to the face. This kind of behavior is average to the followers of the Eighth Sacrament. Heck, I hear the first member of the Burial Agency is a homocidal sociopath who just likes killing things. Maybe I'll freelance in the future? Or just stick as an Executor while trying to keep studying alchemy?
When I think about it, I'm really not so sure about where my future is going to go. I have no idea on what I want to do with my life. I know what things I want to accomplish before I die, but the course of my life? I really wonder where it's going to take me. I know I'm rambling, but career choices are something I've got to figure out before I graduate.
I don't really feel like going to a university, because a mundane career doesn't interest me a single bit, compared to the wonders of the magical community. Perhaps I'll try my hand at a scholarship with the Clock Tower? I'll have to take up a fake identity then... Or maybe Waver Velvet will help me get in? I hear he's taken up a top position, and he's on slightly good terms with my father.
"What's on your mind?" Touko's voice broke through the silence.
"High school things." I replied.
I blink. "How'd you-"
"Old man Zelretch told me to help you a bit there. Have you considered a future yet? Something you've wanted to do?"
Hm… I don't know. But this is an opportunity I can't pass up. So I ask the first question I've always wanted to ask, leaning my head back to look at her. "As an adult magus, how do you make your living?" I ask her, curious. She's an adult, fending for herself out in the world. I wanna know how she's doing it.
"Well, I take jobs, you know, with this little detective agency of mine." She tells me. "I try to keep my funds up by designing things as a part-time architect, and I've been doing pretty well. I've managed to secure an employee who loves his job, and an apprentice who's eager to learn." She grins.
"You haven't paid me in two months!" Mikiya groans from his seat in the corner.
"We live together! You don't need to be paid when I spend for the both of us!" She argues, tossing a small book in his direction. The book hits him in the side of his head, and he just glares in discomfort at the woman he couldn't do anything against. After all, she probably did own most of the money that went between them. I'd say he's pretty whipped at this point.
"So why are you two living together?" I ask her. "He's your employee, after all… Unless, he's a bit more than an employee-" I dodge a book soaring for my face.
Touko frowns, glaring at me. "We're kinda stuck here, that's why."
"Stuck? Stuck how? It's not like you guys are stranded on an island or something."
"Not exactly stuck in a physical sense… More like, stuck in this time period."
I stare at her incredulously. "Wait, you're claiming to be a TIME TRAVELLER?"
She gives me a blank look. "My sister brought us here…" She spat. "She said she thought it would be FUN, but no, she kidnaps us and our office, and then dumps us in another city in another freaking time period. Guess what? I'm having the time of my life." She frowns, a healthy dose of venomous sarcasm tracing her words.
"You sound like you don't like your sister." I point out, sitting upright now.
"Isn't it obvious? I swear, the aloof brat needs to grow up sometime soon."
"Who is your sister, anyway?"
"Aozaki Aouko, Master of the Fifth Magic."
My jaw practically hits the floor.
"AOZAKI AOUKO?" I gape. "YOUR SISTER IS THE BLUE?"
"You really couldn't tell?"
"There aren't many records of her… I've only heard of her from my father, and other sources…" I mumble incoherently, still wondering why the heck I'm meeting such (in)famous people and others related to them in such a short span of time.
"Hm, figures." She mutters. "She's aloof, careless, and lets important things slip out whenever she wants… Not to mention her interests…" She shudders with a grimace.
"Um… What interests?"
"Er…" She pauses. "She's got a thing for… She's got an obsession for little boys with "potential", if you know what I mean…"
I think I remember something my father told me back when Caren and I were younger. We used to take trips to the local parks often, playing on the playgrounds. There were a few things Father told me every single time we went out without him, things he said would keep us safe. They were just four simple rules I had to follow.
One, always carry a weapon on hand.
Two, don't ever point your gun at things you know you shouldn't shoot.
Three, always look out for Caren, and have no mercy towards anything that puts her at risk.
Four was among the most important: If a woman with long red hair offers you company, take your sister, walk away, and don't turn NOT turn she follows you, give her the slip. If you can't, shoot at her. If that doesn't work, find some way to get away as FAR as possible. NEVER let her get close to you. Never let her hug you. If she hugs you, and possibly touches a place that is a sin to play with, RUN LIKE THE WIND, boy. Run faster than you ever could. Run. For the sake of your sanity, your innocence, and the sanctity of Caren's childhood memories, RUN. Just run.
Now I know what he's talking about… I started to fear the color red then… Though I believe it was due to overexposure to an angry Rin. I pity the Shirou fellow who got her attention. Well, it drew her "you're a failure at magecraft" attention away from me, and dropped it on him. Hah. I'm safe. Hopefully, for a long time to come. My pride won't be stabbed for a while now.
"So… Your sister's into-"
"Do not finish that sentence."
I stood in front of my- I mean, Kyouko's house…
Aouko had told me that I could leave and they would deal with any occurences. The Wraith they we were dealing with hadn't shown up yet, and they could handle anything that might pop up. Each of us are starting to get the idea that this was just a little prank set up by a student, maybe one of the magus that attend the school. Father Tsurugi probably expected the same, and sent us to just monitor the library while he went out doing his work.
I walk up to the front door, my hand reaching to knock on the door. But in the creepy Kotomine fashion, the door opens right before my knuckles touch the wood. Bounded Fields used for detection probably have activated, and someone was already there to open the door for me. It still creeps the crap out of people.
I find myself staring for awkward seconds into a young girl's red eyes.
She's got silver hair,and is actually pretty short. Even though she's a child, she seems to carry herself with more maturity than those in her age group, complimented by her choice in what seems to be the clothes of some sort of rich heir. Distinctively European. What, did my female self invite a princess over? But considering her age and hair color, it wouldn't be hard to believe that she could be aquaintances or friends with Caren.
We continued staring at each other, eyes blinking with surprise as we continued analyzing the other, taking the other person's features in, predicting what they'd do next.
"I'm Kouhei… Nishio…" I reply, rubbing the back of my head sheepishly.
She blinks at me some more, seemingly unsure of what she should do next. After a few more seconds, she formulated a response.
"So… You're the prick Nee-chan's having an affair with?"
My jaw drops, eyes twitching. "Where'd you get that idea-"
"Ilya, stop pestering our guest."
A teenager in an apron walks up behind the girl, putting a hand on her shoulder and greeting me with a smile. A free hand brushed what looked like white dust (possibly flour) from his hair and then wiped itself on his apron before extending it to me. I shook the hand as I took a look into his brown eyes. He seemed to be friendly, and rather familiar at that. I checked off a mental list of regular visitors to the Kotomine household, trying to remember who this guy was.
We've got Rin Tohsaka, who comes here to have girl time with Caren and rub her accomplishments in my face…
There's also Father Tsurugi, who comes for buisness and to socialize with Father and to advertise a healthy and studious lifestyle…
Then there's Christopher Mackenzie, who comes over to hang out and still thinks I keep porn in the vent that really leads to my workshop…
And then we've got that guy, this guy. He comes to our house often with Rin, as they both attend the same school, and helps our stressed out father with the chores and cooking, just to be nice and charitable. He's a great guy, and makes a damn good quiche. He helps Caren with her studies, and helped me with my projects, like building and fixing the shed that houses my workshop. I remember him now, I can't believe I forgot his name.
His name is-
"Emiya Shirou, nice to meet you." The red haired teenager continues to smile as he shakes my hand.
"Kouhei Nishio." I reply, forcing back the urge to choke on my own words.
"Come in, make yourself at home." He tells me, moving himself and pulling the girl to the side to allow me in.
If only he knew…
I step in, taking a look around. Same hallway that leads to the living room, kitchen, and our bedrooms. The same paintings, photos, and random awards lining the walls. Heck, Kyouko won the athletics awards in her elementary and middle schools too! At the same elementary and middle schools I went to! Zombie killing is a rather effective workout. You really break a sweat just fighting them… I like "fighting" the mindless variety that just are literally the walking dead that hobble towards you. In video games.
Now, the superpowered Living Dead variety that accompany vampires? The ones that can take multiple shotgun blasts to the chest? The ones you can stab, stab, stab, and stab, and they just refuse to die? Oh…
Those creep the living hell out of me. I'm not as brave as the Magus Killer. Nor as skilled as him. So when faced with a live monster who wants to eat your face…
Yeah, just do everything to kill it dead.
As my monologue continued, I found myself sitting at a table, peeking around as a flurry of actions went on. Shirou had told me that Kyouko was just getting ready, while a few of their friends were on their way. Okay, now I need to monologue further. Let's see, who's probably coming… There's Rin, maybe Kyouko's equivalent of Christopher (who may or may not be a girl), a few of our other guests, and…
This Issei person. Kyouko's boyfriend.
I must meet this person before I decide to use the laxative trailmix. I remember it's in my pack back at that skeleton of an apartment… The sounds of Shirou cooking meet my ears, as my stomach decides to grumble. I always looked forward to Shirou cooking. He's really good at it. From what I can smell, he's making quiche. I grin, happy that at least a few really good things are going well today.
I turn my head, seeing Caren take a seat across from me. Now, with that neutral face of hers, and the propriety of the manner she sits in, she's definitely in interrogation mode. I'm a strange boy in her house about her sister's age, looking relatively good, suited up and seemingly ready to tackle anything. She's judging me for sure. I'd do the same for the Caren back at home. Though I would have a shotgun under the table, laxative trailmix in his food, ready to savor him.
Though I might cut back on the laxative trailmix, as I remember what happened the last time one of Caren's "suitors" came over… Oh, the clogging… Oh Dear Lord the Almighty, the clogging…
"Hello." I reply, looking her in the eye.
"So what are your intentions with my sister?" Just like Caren, cutting to the chase.
"Nothing, I'm here only as a guest." I answer her calmly.
"I've heard that line before." She snorts, turning to the door as Shirou comes in with that shorter, silver haired girl behind him. The girl, Ilya, sits beside Caren as Shirou sets the table. I don't recognize her, but she seems somewhat familiar for a reason I can't explain.
"Nishio-san." She bows her head in a greeting.
"And you are…?" I ask, bowing my head as well in response.
"Ilyasviel von Einzbern, at your service."
Von Einzbern… Von Einzbern… Von Einzbern…Where have I heard that name before…
The masters of coining homunculi. The Einzbern Family. Now I remember them. I still have some of their notes, albeit pawned from a rather recently deceased member of their family…
Caren raised an eyebrow. "You're still using that name?"
Ilyasviel pouts. "I owe it to my mother." She told her. "What do you expect me to say? My name is Ilyasviel Emiya, daughter of the…" Her voice lowers into a hushed, almost silent tone that wasn't meant for me to hear, "Magus Killer?"
SHIROU HAS A SISTER?-!
I gape, as more people seem to funnel into the room. I see Father, looking at me with suspicion as he sits at the table. Another familiar guest follows after him.
"Emiya, have you been doing your homework?"
"Ah yes, Tohsaka. Please, have a seat.
Rin Tohsaka, queen of the long lecture. I avoid looking at her, choosing to fiddle with the bracelet strapped to my wrist. She gives me a raised eyebrow. "Who's he?" She asks Father.
"Just an acquaintance of my daughter."
"An acquaintance, huh?" She takes a seat beside Ilya, staring me down. I feel small in my seat, the stares of 3 young women drilling holes into my soul. If I stay quiet, I won't be noticed. Shirou brings in the food, trays of various of his signature dishes placed with care on the table. Caren and my Father say grace as everyone, including me, follows suit. After that, everyone goes for their favorite dish on the table. My mouth waters at the large quiche, and as my hand reaches forward with a knife to nab a slice, my blood runs cold.
Everyone's staring at me, as if I was absolutely crazy.
Well, except for Caren, who looks strangely amused.
"No one messes with my sister's quiche."
"What's this about someone messing with my quiche?"
I draw my hand back quickly, remembering a few things. One, I myself was very defensive of my share of Shirou's quiche. Once, I even threatened to slit Christopher's throat with a butter knife if he dared to nab some from my plate like the way he nabbed food from me during lunch at school. I got REALLY defensive of the quiche. Not "my precious…" defensive, just…
I look to see Kyouko in what appears to be the female counterparts of my own clothes. She's wearing a thin black jacket, a grey blouse and dark denim jeans. With a big smile on her face, she prances into the room, pulling someone in behind her. I narrow my eyes a little. I don't know the person, but I would like to. Before pulling a shotgun on him.
A teenager stumbled to keep pace with the girl holding his hand, pushing up glasses and clumsily adjusting his rather conservative clothes with his free hand. He quickly managed to compose himself, looking rather more mature and far less exhausted. He looked at Kyouko with a smile, before the two of them took a seat. The young man gave greetings to the rest of the people at the table, before his eyes landed on me.
"I don't believe we've met." He extends his hand out to me from across the table. I reach out to shake it, resisting various urges to break his arm. "Issei Ryuudou, a pleasure to meet you."
"Kouhei Nishio." I answer politely. It's the most I could do at this point.
He sits down again with an equally polite nod, before turning to Kyouko. She gave him a giggle after some comment I couldn't hear, and then she reached out to take a VERY big helping of the quiche on the table. Even our favorite foods are the same… My eyes slightly widen as Kyouko takes a fork, spears a tiny bit of quiche, and then feeds it to Issei.
I have witnessed the impossible.
"Kyouko, you two can act all lovey-dovey later." Rin smirks. "And you Ryuudou, such indecent behavior is unbecoming of a member of the student council president, no?"
Kyouko giggles as Issei's cheeks turs a vibrant red, either with anger or embarrassment.
"Ironic for you to be talking about indecency, Tohsaka." Issei counters her with a look of contempt. "After all, the way you throw yourself at Emiya-" He's cut off when Kyouko clamps her hand over his mouth. She simply smiles, as Issei starts to chuckle at Rin's steaming face and Shirou's oblivious expression.
I found that comment snappy and impressive. My respect for him has risen ever so slightly. We continue to eat, as the table goes from an awkward silence to a more lively tone like I was used to. Caren was happily chatting with father, Shirou was listening to an excited Rin, everything seemed relatively normal. Everything felt like it belonged there, everything fit in.
In this world, I was an outsider. I'm not here naturally. I'm not part of this world. My world is literally worlds away across the absolute biggest and most chaotic intersection in existence.
I'd hate to imagine rush hour.
I'm lost in my thoughts as I hand my plate to Shirou, as he rose with Issei to help my Father clean up. The three of them disappeared into the kitchen, the door closing quietly behind them. I was left alone with Rin, Kyouko, Ilya and Caren.
Wait up guys, I'm coming to help-
"So Kyouko, who exactly is your friend?"
"I don't know Rin, perhaps we should find out."
I stay rooted to my seat, shriveling under the stares of the four girls. At this point, I may or may not be screwed beyond comparison. In one corner, there's the girl who taught me to fear girls during childhood years numbers eight to ten. In another corner, there's the girl who taught me that I must protect all little girls no matter what kind of crap they pull on me. And the other two are completely unknown factors. So I'm the horror movie idiot who goes into the darkness without a weapon.
And the only weapons I have access to right now are my wit, intellect, and instinct.
My wit is telling me I'm screwed, my intellect is running a blank, and my instinct is simply telling me to run like a dog with his tail between his legs.
This is not good.
"So, why are you here?" Rin shoots off the first question.
"I'm here as a guest." I answer, trying to pull together my intellect.
"Of course we know that- I meant, why are you in Fuyuki, magus?" Rin narrows her eyes.
The tension in the room could be cut with a Black Key. Wit tries to come up with an answer.
"The same could be asked of you four." I ask.
"Well, I live here, Rin lives here, Caren lives here, Ilya though is another guest, but you? Is a Wraith and a shady looking aunt really why you're here?" Kyouko counters my wit.
Oh crap, she probably knows already.
Instinct, help me!
I just want to run right now. Run, hide, finish training, and then get the hell out of this universe.
Kyouko puts both hands on the table and stands. She stares me down with more intensity, our eyes locking. I can tell she's reading me, and I can realize another difference between us other than our gender. This girl has confidence. She knows what she's doing, and she has the will to make it move forward. There's silence, as we continue to look at each other.
"You know something, you know something that I know, that you shouldn't know." Kyouko says, her voice a near snarl. Caren raises an eyebrow. Rin holds her friend's shoulder, as Ilya moves towards the door to call for the three inside.
"You know something, Kouhei Nishio." She growled, now angry. "WHO ARE YOU?"
Instinct? An answer please?"
The only answer I can find is: Come clean.
I relax, sighing. I rest my arms on the table, eyes looking down on the tablecloth. I look up again, this time brimming with some newfound confidence of my own, my emotions flaring as I'm backed into a corner. I won't let this girl show me up. If she can do it, then so can I.
I stand, a sly yet saddened grin on my face.
"Pleasure to reintroduce myself." I answer dryly, narrowing my own eyes with my patience lost.
"My name is Kouhei Takeda-Kotomine. I'm a lover of quiche. I'm a follower of the Eighth Sacrament, and an Executor-in-Training. I'm the apprentice of Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg, Master of the Second Magic... I'm the biological son of Yuriko Takeda and the bastard Nishio who killed her. In many ways, Kyouko Takeda-Kotomine..."
My face has scrunched up into a full on glare.
"I. Am. You."
POV: Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg
Why do I have a feeling something is going on, and I should really be there to fix it?
I shrug off my feelings of worry. They make me look and feel old. Perhaps that's an understatement; after all, with an age like mine under one's belt, most uncomfortable feelings have an extremely enhanced effect on my psyche. I feel old.
Or, all this emotionalism could be a result of nabbing a few handfuls of that strange trail mix found in my apprentice's pack.
My insides still feel a little tingly. But no matter, it tasted great! I loved the abundance of almond slivers, all the taste of almond without the energy required to chew the full nut. Though there was that strange coating that I figured was glaze… Maybe it was something else… But no matter, what's done is done. And I must get that recipe from Kouhei.
I take a look down at my quickly scrawled list of things needed to be done today. First, I needed to gather supplies. More food would be needed, survival equipment should be picked, and a steady stack of proper munitions should be gathered for my apprentice to use. After all, if he keeps transmuting dangerous materials like that without more experience in alchemy, he could end up hurting himself. I haven't had an apprentice with such a will to do things with his own two hands in quite a long time. With that in mind, I add a top-class first aid kit to the list of supplies.
He's definitely going to need it after I'm through with him.
Second, we'll need funds. I can afford to sell a few jewels in this city. Some diamonds here, rubies there, a sapphire somewhere, and I'll have enough money to probably buy a decently sized chunk of the city.
Third, I'll need to locate and decide on teachers. I've compiled a list of various individuals that would provide Kouhei with the skills he wants and needs to learn, that I can't teach him myself. Aozaki Touko is merely the first the extensive list of masters and peculiar people that can help my young apprentice succeed in his life. There are no guarantees that he'll l like them or the training they offer, but I believe in his choices. He's started off on the right foot and he is where he is now, completely due to said choices. I don't intend to throw a wrench into his life.
Maybe a screwdriver or a hammer or two, but nothing completely shattering…
Lastly, I need to visit a certain café. I've been dying to see a few friends of mine again. They'll be excited to see me for sure. It's something that I'm especially looking forward to.
These last few hours, I've simply been planning out the future and now I'm enacting the measures detailed in those plans. Steps numbers one to three can be done later. Now step four however, can be done right now. With a skip in my step, I eagerly stroll down the street I'm walking on, ignoring the looks of the locals as they stare at the tall foreigner bounding down their street with both a suspicious grin and a large cape fluttering behind his back.
A familiar, round, cast iron sign meets my eye as I approach the building it's attached to. I reach for the door.
And I enter the Ahnenerbe Café.
Now, the first thing that I smell is the scent of masterfully made coffee. Ah, my favorite place in the multiverse is where I stand right now. I walk across the wooden floors, admiring the western touches in the interior design. I sit in my usual seat, the one beside the front counter that the management have reserved for me for a literally indefinite time. I decide to wait for someone with the time to attend to my order, as I can hear the sounds of people working in the kitchens out of my sight. I set my cape on the back of the seat, taking a look around. Today, I seem to be the only one here at the moment. As a regular, I'm honestly not very surprised. I have an eye on the door, looking out for familiar people as I wait.
The sound of a glass tapping against the wooden counter.
"Zelretch, it's been a while."
I turn my head to find the seat beside me occupied with a glass of scotch placed on the counter in my direction. A grey furred hand clutching a bottle of scotch poured more of the drink into another glass, while another similarly furred hand clutches a lit cigar. My new companion, a grey, somewhat deformed cat-like human grinned at me from behind narrow eyes. A grin of my own is on my face, as I tap the little guy on the back of his black shirt in a greeting.
"It's nice to see you too, Chaos."
We both raise our glasses to each other in a toast and then drink them dry. With satisfied gasps, we slam the glasses back down onto the counter with an audible clatter. I'm far from being a lightweight, so something like this is nothing for me. Chaos has a similar expression as mine, a calm, contented look that states our pride in ourselves and our satisfaction with our surroundings the way they are now.
"Better not let Destiny see that." I nod off to the bottle of scotch. "Where is everyone else, anyway?"
"Cleaning up the kitchen and preparing for a group of our regulars. They should be arriving soon." Chaos replies, taking the bottle and stuffing it into a shelf right over and under the counter.
I raise an eyebrow. "Who?"
"Someone you'll be familiar with. He's bringing his family- he's started coming back more often after finally settling into a new house here." Chaos notes, "He's a rather successful man now, maybe not exactly in his financial standings or career-wise, but he's surprisingly happy with his life. He's got a beautiful wife, and a young daughter."
I'm trying to compile a list of various family men I have met before. There was that one variant of Shirou Emiya, who, coupled with Tohsaka Rin, managed to produce a daughter. Then, there was also Shirou Emiya and Sakura Matou, with a daughter- or was it a son? I can't tell myself, he's/she's very effeminate. And then there was Shirou Emiya and- Wait a minute… Why are the majority of family men variants of Shirou Emiya? There was that one universe… Oh, I cannot forget that universe. I simply don't have many fond memories of it. Which is why I kinda went around a few universes sterilizing, neutering and even spaying deserving Shirou Emiyas (both male and female) I came across, with a genocidal vigor.
Let it be said, my dealings with the Emiya Clan weren't the most amicable.
But the way Chaos speaks of this man doesn't seem familiar at all. I can't think of anyone else other than the main players of these universes… Someone who was happy, good-looking enough to get a beautiful wife, but not having much luck in finances and/or a career… This sounds like a simple romance novel, a couple who fall in love and raise a family with only true love to fall back on.
"Oh, hello there!"
I turn my head to the entrance of the kitchen, smiling as I watch a pink furred NEKO spirit stroll into the room. "Destiny." I greet her, as Chaos waves her over.
"Have you seen our guests?" She asks Chaos. He shakes his head, turning his eyes towards the door to try and see if anyone was coming. No one was there just yet.
"Can you tell me whose coming?" I ask her, hoping for a more clear answer, perhaps some names to match unknown faces.
Destiny smiles along with Chaos, both of them clearly enjoying themselves as they watch me flounder around trying to figure out information they know, that I obviously don't.
"I'll give you a few clues then." Destiny giggles, hopping up on a seat across from Chaos and I. "First, he's kind, someone one can easily tell is suited to be a lover and a father with his attitude, skills, and personality. He may be useless or perhaps incompetent in some aspects of his life and skill set, but when dealing with others, maintaining relationships and building new ones, he's one of the best."
So, very empathetic, good with people even if he's not good with other aspects in his life… "Carry on." I tell her.
"He's moderately gifted with his skills, often shining after failing multiple times. He's rather stubborn, and he'll only back down when he knows it's absolutely hopeless to continue. He's also very shy, but once he reveals some sides of himself to people they find him charismatic, intelligent, and smooth, though not very confident." Chaos pitches in.
Given some thought, this man sounds somewhat like a variation of Shirou Emiya, give or take a few factors.
"He's remarkably courageous, and is a man who likes to take matters into his own hands. But he isn't completely against having people to help shoulder his burdens, since he'll immediately decide to help them shoulder their own."
Okay, that limits my choices a little.
"He's proud of what he can do, and proud that he tried to do what he could not. It took him a long time, many adventures, many trials and tribulations over the years, to forge him into the person he is today. He obviously regrets a few choices he's made, but he has nothing against where they have brought him." Destiny adds.
Chaos continues, "And a man he considers like another grandfather once told him: I believe in your choices. I believe that your choices have made you the man you are right now, and will make you the man you hope to be. I believe in your choices, in the accomplishments you have made and even the consequences that they have brought to you. I believe in your choices, and I myself am proud of them, proud of you. I'm proud of you and your family… You and our family…"
"Because I'll believe in your choices, because I believe in you."
Destiny concludes with a bright, face-splitting smile.
That sounds like something I might say. But the thing is, I can't remember ever saying those words, much less anyone I can think of saying them to. Now, that means I have never met this person, or due to the nature of this café, I have met them now, but they have changed over the events in a certain continuity of time. As the ward over the Second Magic, that theory was easily within plausibility. Now, what people have I met? I have a slight inkling of a feeling of who this might be, but I have some serious doubts. After all, that much character development can't happen in such a short time considering a variety of different factors thrown into the equation. It would take serious events to change his personality into the way Destiny and Chaos have described.
And for me to say those words… Some serious things might have happened in that continuity.
"Can I ask for one more clue? Maybe a more direct one?" I ask the two of them.
The two share a look. "Fine." Destiny smiles.
"The man we speak of has received your tutelage, and has managed to survive this long."
Honestly, I can easily count my successful apprentices with a single hand. There were the three who developed the Third Magic, one of whom became the successor to my own personal magic. Each of them however lived long ago and their descendents I no longer have anything to with, other than to screw with their lives at a healthy rate. There was another variation on that Kohaku girl, I'm not so sure she classifies as successful though… She was a peculiar girl at first, growing weirder by the second as she soaked up as much of my teachings as she could. She even went so far to think of herself and act like a "magical girl" of mundane fiction. I believe she goes by "Magical Amber" now…
And the last apprentice? Heck, I haven't even taught him anything yet, and I don't believe he could qualify as successful just yet. He's a novice in serious fields of both magic and life, and I've only known him for about a week! And this is the first variation of him that I've met, ever! He's unimportant, somewhat skilled, and not very successful… Actually, his ideal of success differs from mine. If success equals to career and skills, he's far from it.
If success equals to happiness in life, I'd consider him to be a rather happy individual. But the man coming can't possibly be him! It simply wouldn't make sense. The character described doesn't match him, and my experiences with character development prove that without some extreme circumstances, this won't happen. And extreme circumstances will not happen to my apprentice. I swear upon it!
Extreme circumstances have screwed over about 571 apprentices across the multiverse during my last century of life, but the streak shall change!
So final conclusion, this man can't possibly be Kouhei-
The door swings open, and a young girl skips inside. Flowing purple hair dangles to her waist, tied up into a long braid behind her. She wears the outfit of a typical primary school girl, and is a picture perfect image of a giggly, happy student of her age. She's absolutely beaming with a childish innocence, smiling and laughing as she bounces over to a table. My eyes meet with hers and I catch their deep red color, as her fair face gives a calculating expression as she analyzes me. She rests her elbow on her arm and rubs her chin with her hand choosing to stare in my direction. She looks as if she recognizes me, the same way I seem to find her somewhat familiar.
The way she scrunches up her face is rather cute.
"Makina-chan!" Destiny squeals, quickly moving over to hug her. The girl squeals in the pink cat-person's grasp, hugging Destiny back as if she was a large stuffed animal. Considering her appearance, Destiny certainly fit the role. Destiny helps her up into a taller seat, handing her a menu. "Where are your parents? If you've run off ahead of them again, they must be worried."
"Daddy and Mommy walk too slow!" The girl, Makina, pouts.
"You'll give your old man a heart attack like that." Chaos jokes from where we sit.
I run a list of who this girl might be. If this is the daughter from an apprentice from a different continuity, this might be another Zelretch who managed to raise a successful apprentice. That theory would possibly work, if this little girl didn't seem so familiar. Maybe it's one of my surviving apprentices who've managed to pull their lives together after a training trip gone wrong. There are so many different possibilities, possibly going up to infinity due to the vastness of the multiverse, and there's the fact that Ahnenerbe can link to nearly every single one of them. Another factor would be this child's purple hair… Purple hair isn't familiar. I've never had an apprentice with purple hair before, so that must mean this child is adopted, or it's the color of the mother's hair. But I've also never had an apprentice pursuing romance while pursuing a magical education.
Well, maybe some have, but I haven't seen it.
Most of said apprentices didn't even wish to raise a family, only to raise their own abilities… But maybe… Just maybe… For all the right reasons, I can think of a few individuals that would possibly want a family of their own.
And one of them came with me to this world…
"Hello? Anyone in here?"
I turn my head to the door, watching a young man come in. He's somewhat tall, lean too. A heavily scarred hand brushes away dark brown hair, and pushes up a pair of glasses that frame murky, hazel-brown eyes. He walks with a slight limp, his other hand gripping tightly onto a dark wooden cane. He's wearing a rather casual suit, nothing too fancy, but would look nice at a dinner party or something. He looks… Successful. Successful in life, successful with his career. If this is the man who Chaos and Destiny were describing, Makina's father, then he qualifies completely. A faint smile is on his face, as he takes a look around the café.
Behind him, a rather beautiful woman comes through the door and latches onto the man's arm. She's about a head shorter than him, with deep red eyes, and shockingly long purple hair, tied into a braid that dangles behind her head. She isn't familiar to me, but she bears a strong similarity to Makina. She's obviously the mother, so then, without a single doubt, the man she's holding onto lovingly has to be Makina's father. The man smiles at his wife, and quietly pecks her lips with his own. The woman has a faint giggle, and the two of them scan the room for their daughter. The wife quickly spots Makina, unhinging herself from her husband, and gracefully moving towards her daughter. The man however, takes another quick look around the café, his degree of vision planted squarely in my direction.
Our eyes meet.
Behind those hazel-brown orbs lies a man who's seen things, things beyond most common understanding. His eyes reflected experience, of all kinds. The experience of a wise man, a scientist, a magus, one who studied, who hunted, and continues to hunt for knowledge. The experience of a warrior, a combatant, a fighter, one who held his ground, and one who struggled to conquer more. The experience of a father, a lover, one who shelters, one who shields, to fight on all fields, in all ways, for a family he built on his own. I could see ice, numbness and unfeeling calculation. But then I could see fire, a burning determination and a roaring confidence.
I haven't seen such qualities since Tohsaka Nagato. But I've seen some of them recently, really recently. I can't believe it. It's hard to recognize, but it's there, in his features. That face, those eyes, the way he holds himself. The differences are severe, but the similarities are striking. I know who this is, and I can barely believe it. This man, is definitely one of my apprentices.
The man's smile curls into a full on grin. I gape.
Chapter 3 Complete!
Yes, I am leaving it on a cliffhanger. And the next chapter will come much sooner than you think. First of all, I need to prepare for the plot kicking into full storm. The base ideas are finally set in, and as of next chapter, character development, romance, plot, fanservice, MORE plot, and what is set to be a chapter that is twice as long, is coming up within the next week.
Now, I don't have much to say. I want to get some sleep, get the next chapter started, and then work towards my goal of getting the first major arc of this story done.
And so please, wish me luck, pray that life doesn't get in the way again, R/R, enjoy life, read great fiction, and let the creative juices flow. And not only for you lemon writers. Aw well. – EthernalRain