Fire. For a while, that was the only thing the boy could perceive. His world was made of just flame and smoke. After some time, he became aware of other things: the dark grey sky of the early morning, the ruined buildings which the fire was consuming, the charred bodies of others, and eventually his own two feet, slowly moving his body forward with no destination in mind.
He didn't know where he was or why he was there. He couldn't remember anything other than the fire that surrounded him as he walked through the desolation. The boy was dimly aware of the fact the he was burned, but this fact was merely a passing thought through the cloudy haze of his mind. It was all he could do to take another step forward.
Eventually the boy's steps slowed until his legs gave out from under him, causing him to collapse onto his back. Staring up at the sky, he felt his awareness begin to wane, and his sense of self going with it. However, before he could slip away, he heard a noise off to his right. Rolling his head, he caught a glimpse of someone, moving beyond some of the fire and rubble.
It was a small girl, crying and wandering as he was until a moment ago. The boy stared at her dumbly, not sure how to handle this new sight, and not likely having the ability to move even if he did. Before long the girl's cries became weaker as she wandered away, eventually out of sight.
The boy continued to stare after her, the cloudy haze of his parting somewhat to allow some thoughts to surface. Who was that? The boy's first thoughts were since he first became aware. What's going to happen to her?
As he thought about this, he was only dimly aware of someone walking up to him, this person falling on his hands and knee to get a closer look at the boy. If the boy wasn't so preoccupied with thinking of the little girl her just saw, he might have noticed the look of happiness on the stranger's face at finding him alive.
The boy found himself lying in a hospital bed, though he wasn't sure why. It wasn't that he couldn't remember how he got there, though parts of it did fade in and out. After his collapse, he remembered waking up in a man's arms, being carried away from the fire. The boy wasn't entirely sure what happened, but he felt a little more alive, more present. He wasn't really sure if he needed to be in the hospital, but the man insisted.
The boy tilted his head slightly, looking at the man who brought him here. The man had his back to the boy, looking out the window toward the ruined blocks of Fuyuki.
The boy frowned to himself as he resumed looking at the ceiling. Is that the name? he thought to himself. He still couldn't remember anything about, well, anything. He only knew the city name because one of the doctors mentioned in passing that he was one of the only survivors of the 'Fuyuki City Fire'. The boy couldn't remember if he had other family, or even what his own name was. He remembered the man telling him his name though… Kiritsugu. The boy knew that he owed the man his life.
For the moment though, the boy was more interested in the other survivor of the fire. Lying in the bed across from him was none other than the girl he had seen earlier, wandering through the ruins of where they supposedly both lived. She apparently had managed to get to the hospital on her own, and the fact that she and the boy were the only two patients in the room only served to reinforce how bleak the current situation was. The girl herself looked absolutely miserable, curled up into a ball and crying softly into her knees.
What happens now? The boy asked himself, dully observing her. Try as he might, he just couldn't feel anything for the girl, or for himself for that matter. It was almost as if the fire had burned away every part of him, leaving nothing but a hollow shell. Such as it was, it was all he could do to simply wonder what there was left in the world for him. There is nothing left for either us. The boy closed his eyes, slowly letting the nothingness of sleep come over him.
In the middle of the dark haze that permeated the boy's mind, there was a sword's sheath. It's wasn't an ordinary sheath, both in appearance and in function. The wrappings were a brilliant blue, and the whole of it was embroidered with gold. However, despite the extravagance that made the sheath worthy of a king, it was what the sheath represented that was far more extraordinary.
If one was able to perceive such things, the mere physical form of it would melt away, revealing a glimpse of something far more pure. It was something so basic, something so fundamental to human beings that anyone who could see it for what it was would instantly recognize it.
It was the concept of peace, of hope, and the idea that there was such a place where these things held sway.
Normally, buried deep as it was inside the boy, that particular aspect would not have much of an effect on him, instead making other accepts of itself known with time. However, at that moment there was an emptiness inside the child that yearned to be filled. A light emitted from the sheath, the glow filling the sleeping boy with a particular feeling. A sense that…
Everything was going to be fine.
The boy woke with a start. Looking around, he saw that nothing had changed. He was still in the hospital, the man who saved him was still looking out the window, and the little girl was still crying. And yet, he felt something. Something other than the emptiness which had been with him since he was aware. I feel… better, he thought to himself. He struggled to try to quantify this feeling. I feel like… this is going to have a happy ending.It was the best way his childish mind could define it.
Before he could start to question this feeling, a sudden yell come from the doorway of the room. "Ayako!" The cry came from a pair of rather disheveled and distraught people, a man and a woman. Both of which rushed into the room and up to the bed where the girl had curled up.
"Mama! Papa!" the girl cried out, rising from her bed and hugging her parents.
As the boy watched the tearful reunion, he felt the emotion inside of him swell. It was a feeling of warmth and joy that spread throughout his being, and a sense that the scene before him was just simply… right.
With a smile creeping on his face, the boy thought to himself Happy endings is how everything should end.
**Three Years later**
"Are you sure you want to be a magus?" Kiritsugu Emiya asked his adopted son.
The boy, which Kiritsugu had named Shirou when it was discovered that the boy couldn't remember his own name, nodded enthusiastically. "Yes! I want to become a hero of justice, just like you!"
The Magus Killer gave a sigh, somewhat disheartened that Shirou had decided to take up his failed beliefs. "I have to warn you, it won't be easy. To be a magus is to walk with death. Are you certain that is what you want?"
Again, Shirou nodded. "I'm sure. If I don't learn magic powers and become a hero, the odds of me just becoming a side character drastically increase!"
Kiritsugu felt his eyebrow twitch. Ever since he had taken Shirou home from the hospital after the fire, he had found the boy to have an endless love for books and stories, though he had a clear preference for ones with heroes finding themselves triumphant over the forces of evil. While he was glad that his adoptive son had such a great love of reading, he worried that the boy had gained a rather… interesting outlook on how the world was supposed to work. "Oh? So the only reason you want learn magecraft is so you don't have to be a side character?" Kiritsugu asked in a disapproving tone.
Shirou gave a slightly panicked expression and put up his hands. "No! That's not what I meant!" The boy rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "The thing is, side characters usually aren't that important to the story, and being the hero guaranties that you're the main character."
"And why do you what to be the main character?"
Shirou drew himself up and puffed out his chest. "Because if I was the main character, I would make sure the story has a happy ending!"
**Two Years Later**
Shirou slowly walked through the halls of the Emiya estate, the house suddenly feeling much bigger and emptier than it used to. Aside from the priest, only he and Fuji-nee-san had attended his father's funeral. Both had known that the strange wasting disease would eventually claim Kiritsugu's life, but it didn't make things any easier when the day had finally come. Shirou was glad that he wouldn't be entirely alone: Fuji-nee-san had promised that she would come over to take care of him every day, though give what he knew about her, he had a sneaking suspicion that he would be the one doing the care taking.
Shirou stopped his slow march in front of his father's old room, looking in at the piles of belongings that Shirou had made after his death. Two of them were of particular note to the growing red-head. The first contained the few tools which his father had used to help instruct him in the ways of magecraft. While nothing in the pile itself was of note, it did serve as an unpleasant reminder that he was unable to master even the most basic parts of magic in the brief time which his father had trained him. The two spells which he knew, Structural Analysis and Reinforcement, never worked how there were supposed to. The information he got from the first spell always seemed to relate to how it was used and what it was for rather than what it was made of. Also, the effects of the second spell often produced rather random and nonsensical results, often times adding new properties to the object rather than making it stronger. Shirou had a few ideas about this, but now with his father gone, he was going to have to work on it alone.
The second pile was of interest due to what it contained, which happened to be weapons. Not just blades, but also there appeared be an assortment of automatic rifles, pistols, and even an incredibly heavy sniper rifle. Shirou wouldn't have even found it if he didn't accidently knock the dresser over while he was searching the room, causing it to fall on the fake floor boards where all of it was stashed. His eyes lingered on a particular gun, which appear to be an ornate pistol with an elongate barrel that could only chamber a single bullet. He wasn't sure why, but Shirou felt that this pistol had particular importance to his father, though that may have been helped by the fact that he found it in its own special case along with some custom shells.
Shirou shook his head and continued down the hallway to his room. While his father had often stated that to be a magus is to walk with death, he never really elaborated on his own past and what it meant for him. As far as Shirou could tell, the stash of weapons indicated that he wasn't just talking about the dangers with which magecraft presented to the person practicing it. He wondered to himself if he should try practicing with them. Sure, it might be a bit unusual (not to mention probably illegal with some of those guns), but Shirou usually erred on the side of caution when it came to acquiring a new skill that could be immensely useful in the right situations.
Arriving at his own room, he sat down in front of his computer and began typing in order to get his mind off things. His father may have said that most magi don't care for technology, but Shirou fully intended to embrace the information revolution. How could he not, with such a wealth of stories that could be found in modern media like TV and movies. The internet in particular was quite useful in this regard, not just for the entertainment that could only be found there, but it was also the easiest way to get access to the western media he had become so fond of.
There was in fact one such piece of western media that was the catalyst for his current project. For fun, he and some of his internet friends who lived in America had been gather and correlating story and narrative elements from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Such as it was, the list had become quite large, and there were enough connections between these different elements that Shirou felt he could successfully put it into a wiki. At the moment, he was currently trying to think of a domain name to call this collection.
As he searched the internet for some clever turn of phrase he could use, he found himself reading an entry from the Oxford Dictionary.
Trope: a figure of speech, especially one that uses words in senses beyond their literal meanings.
Shirou stared at this definition in thought. Hmm. You know, most of the nicknames me and the guys gave these narrative elements could probably fit under that definition. The more he thought about it, the more Shirou began liking the sound of it. Yeah, this wiki will be about tropes. But still, what to name it? After a moment of thought, he decided that he should probably just keep it simple.
A/N: Well, here's the beginning of what I consider my first real fanfiction. For those of you that don't know, this is going to be the origin of a character I made on the In Flight omake forum, commonly nicknamed 'Troper'. This prologue is mostly to setup the difference between this Shirou and the one in cannon, and to answer a few questions for those who are already familiar with the character.
If you haven't guessed from the title, this Shirou is going to have a different Origin, as well has having different skills in combat. I honestly don't know what happened to Kiritsugu's weaponry the end of the Fourth Grail War as it's not talked about in the wiki and the Fate/Zero anime is only half done at this point, but for this fic, I'm saying he kept it beneath the floorboards.
Also, for the handful of you that don't know, TVTropes is a real website (which I most certainly did not create) which is basically a wiki for works of fiction and the narrative elements shared by these works. I highly recommend that you check it out, but only if you have about six hours free. That website is probably the biggest time sink in the history of man.
If I could I, I would end this with a link to the TVTropes I Do Not Own page. Mostly for ironic purposes, as the page itself says how pointless such an act would be.