A/N This chapter is being told from Charlotte's perspective for reasons that will soon become apparent.
Okay. Let's list off everything I know about Emiya Shirou and try to go from there. One, he's a fantastic chef who genuinely enjoys cooking for other people and is quite used to holding large meals for his friends. Two, he's extremely diligent in life, at least for the things he considers important like his physical conditioning or the well being of others. Third, he's immensely stubborn when confronted with ideas or opinions that contradict his own world view.
...No, none of that explains why he's currently fighting an insane Irishman to the death in his hospital room.
Calling it a fight might be a stretch, though. It was more like a whirlwind of sharp edges and destroyed swords that contained two people in the center who were trying very hard to make the other person dead. I wasn't even sure how the Irishman was manipulating that long spear around this cramped and crowded room, but despite the impossibility of such an act he made it look easy.
It lasted about ten seconds. The end came so abruptly that I didn't even have time to register it before Shirou slumped to the ground, covered in his own blood, a great big hole in the center of his chest.
"Too bad... had you been able to give ground without fear of the girlies getting skewered you might have been able to match me for a while, but this was simply a bad battleground for you." That was it. That was all he said before lifting the bloodied spear once again, preparing to drive it straight into Shirou's heart.
I can't breathe.
That spear- dripping with Shirou's blood, raising over his prone body like harbinger of death, tainting the very air around it with its foul presence. I won't let it kill him. I won't. You better put that spear down right now or so help me God I will walk over there and rip it out of your hands you son of a bitch don't you dare hurt Shirou you monster get away from him I won't let you-
I realize I'm screaming. My hands are trembling.
The spear doesn't stop.
I fire. Somewhere in the back of my mind I question what I'm doing, firing a machine gun at a human being that doesn't have shields to protect him, but that thought stays buried under an avalanche of rage and desperation. Apparently I wasn't the only one who fired, either, since I see one of Cecilia's blue bolts streak towards my target as well with enough destructive power to slice him in half.
With a rather extravagant twirl of his spear, Cu Chulainn blocked my continuous stream of bullets and simply bated the laser beam off to the side, seemingly unconcerned with his ability to do the impossible. Even as he defended himself without any apparent effort, however, he lost the opportunity to finish Shirou off, and I dimly heard Orimura-sensei yelling orders in the background.
"Alcott, Dunois, keep firing, Bodewig secure Emiya, Huang blow out the wall behind us," she issued in a rapid-fire pace that had everyone scrambling for action. Laura darted forward, heedless of the shots being fired at a person not two feet away from her, and brought her AIC up in between Shirou and his attacker. With her other hand she dropped her weapon and seized the unconscious boy, hauling him back to our group even as that accursed spear flew towards her neck, stopping at the invisible field that repelled all forward motion.
"Dunois, Alcott, firing retreat!"
I glanced behind me; everyone aside from Cecilia, Laura and Shirou were outside, with Rin gently but quickly bringing the noncombatants to the ground in her fully deployed IS. Cecilia jumped backwards through the window, firing her rifle and deploying her IS simultaneously, and I leaped out a second behind her. Cu Chulainn- if that was his real name- was frowning, trying to stab his spear through Laura's AIC field and absently knocking bullets and lasers alike right out of the air.
Laura herself cleared the window right after me, holding Shirou's bleeding body in one arm while maintaining her shield in the other, shooting past the rest of us to keep that madman from finishing our senpai off. Houki and Orimura-sensei, the only ones of us on foot, dashed out of the way while the rest of us trained our weapons on the enemy.
He looked mildly annoyed.
"Look, the more you resist the more painful this will be," he said, giving us a weary sigh. Seriously? He just walks up, tries to kill us and then gets annoyed when we don't roll over and die?
"Let's see you block THIS!" Rin fired her Dragon Cannons at full power, the twin balls of compressed air slamming into the man's defenses and knocking him a few feet back.
"Hm... not a bad weapon you've got there. But if that's your limit, you really should give up now." He lightly jumped down from the ruined hospital room and landed lightly on his feet, despite having dropped three floors without anything to slow his fall.
It was almost hilarious. After everything the monster did it was this that convinced me he wasn't human? The more I thought about what was happening, the more that conclusion seemed inevitable. This Cu Chulainn didn't have any sort of power armor on according to my Rafael Revive and yet he was faster and stronger than any human being could possibly be. He even said bullets would barely hurt him... and that he was summoned by mages.
"Cu Chulainn... um, why exactly are you trying to kill us? What were you summoned to do, specifically?" I wasn't sure why I asked, other than that it suddenly popped into my mind and I wasn't as in control of myself as I normally am.
He looked surprised for a second, then shook his head ruefully. "Nothing personal, girlie. Your teacher poked her nose where she shouldn't have and angered the wrong people, and then ran back to you when I was chasing her. Can't leave witnesses, so you've got to die too."
For an assassin he sure looked uncomfortable with the thought of killing us, but that wasn't much of a consolation in the grand scheme of things. Maybe I could use that?
Before I could even try, he apparently decided he was done with conversation. I didn't even have time to open my mouth before he slammed his spear into my chest, closing the distance between us faster than I could even react to and striking in a single motion. The scenery flew by as I was thrown back by the force, and I noted with some concern that almost a third of my shield energy was already gone after that one hit.
By the time I recovered the fight was already in full swing. Laura and Rin were attempting to engage the spearman in close combat with Cecilia providing long range support, but it was clear from their rapidly dwindling shield energies that they were losing. I brought out a heavy rifle myself and fired a few shots at him, but I didn't really expect anything to connect after his skillful displays earlier on.
"Bodewig! Huang! Get out of the way!"
I looked up to the direction of Orimura-sensei's voice and saw at least two dozen third year students in full armor as well as the teacher herself, all pointing heavy ordinance at the solitary lancer in the courtyard. He looked up and grinned at them.
"Ha! I knew you were my kind of woman," he said, as if he wasn't staring certain death in the face. Though he might have even more up his sleeve than he had shown already, so maybe he wasn't in a desperate situation at all.
"Drop your weapon and surrender, or we will fire."
His only response was a grin as he readied his spear, though how he intended to attack flying opponents with it was anyone's guess.
"You have three seconds."
High energy alert. Rafael Revive was blinking with a warning- whatever that Irishman was doing was pulling in the kind of energy that an IS normally operated at. I checked to make sure Shirou was still safe and saw Houki carrying him off in an Uchigane, so I refocused back on the battle in front of me.
"Haha, I like you."
"Next time we meet, I'm taking you out for drinks."
Heavy machine guns, missiles, lasers, grenades, and even more esoteric projectiles launched simultaneously from all the IS gathered here into one massive barrage aimed squarely at Cu Chulainn. At the same time he unleashed his counter-attack.
He whipped his spear forward so quickly I barely even registered the red streak flying from his hands toward the oncoming bombardment, but the two forces met in mid air with an unmistakable thunder.
The explosion blinded and deafened me. I stopped firing immediately because I couldn't even see where I was aiming and was liable to hit some friendlies, there being so many more of us than there were of him. My vision returned first.
Cu Chulainn was gone; Orimura-sensei was issuing orders to all of the third years to secure the perimeter and set up patrols, but it was obvious from her body language that she didn't think he was still here. Not like that would keep her from being as cautious as she possible could in this situation. I mean, who ever heard of someone matching an IS with his own body? Granted, he had taken Shirou down when-
Oh my God, Shirou. Was he okay? No, don't be ridiculous, Shirou's survived wounds just as bad as that before, he's amazingly tough. Besides, he said that Cu Chulainn already stabbed him through the heart once-
Oh my God. Shirou is one of them, isn't he? Everything makes sense now. The constant training, the untraceable childhood, the mysterious weapons, the fight with the Valkyrie, the fact that he can pilot an IS as a male... he's one of them.
"Huang, Shinonono, Bodewig, Alcott, Dunois. Report for emergency briefing immediately."
There were seven of us around the table including Orimura-sensei and the student council president Sarashiki Tatenashi, all wearing identical grim expressions. Under normal circumstances it would have been amusing the see the ever cheerful Rin and the casually smiling Tatenashi looking so serious, but I had a much more pressing issue to worry about.
"So not only is magic real, the practitioners of the craft tend to kill anyone who finds out about it, if we can take Shirou-kun's words and the actions of Cu Chulainn at face value. Which means everyone here is their target," Tatenashi said, scanning her eyes around the table. "Frankly, if they can overwhelm six personal IS holders at the same time with a single soldier then I'm not sure we have the ability to fight them."
Rin frowned at her. "We can just tell the whole world about them. There's enough footage of the fight to convince people."
Orimura-sensei shook her head at the diminutive girl. "Not a good idea. We have no idea what kind of power they have so provoking them into an all or nothing fight is the worst possible course of action."
Silence once again descended on our despondent little group. We're supposed to be the pinnacle of military power and we're sitting around like scared little girls?
"Why don't we just wake Emiya-senpai and ask him? The doctors should have stabilized him by now and he's the only person who can advance this conversation any further."
All the girls perked up at the thought of seeing Shirou again, but the two older women looked even more stone-faced than before.
"Emiya isn't responding to treatment. The doctors are giving him another half hour."
I understood the words she said, and they should have made sense, but I couldn't process what she was saying. Looking across the table I found I wasn't the only one. Rin had her mouth hanging open in shock, Cecilia was starting to hyperventilate, Houki was mumbling something under her breath with unfocused eyes, and Laura...
Laura was sad. Like she had accepted Shirou's death but was upset about it.
Tears sprang up in my eyes, unbidden and unwelcome, but there wasn't much I could do about them. Shirou was going to die and I couldn't even see him. After everything he did for the people around him, we were just going to sit back and let him die all alone in a hospital room?
"Chifuyu... you can't be serious," Rin choked out, on the verge of breaking down herself. Her protest was mirrored by the rest of us as we looked at our teacher with watering eyes, begging her to tell us better news about our friend. About the kind boy who had touched all of our lives and asked us nothing in return.
"We are doing everything we can," she said, but even her mask cracked a bit. The pain that flashed across her face for a split second told us everything we needed to know. There would be no saving Emiya Shirou.
Someone started to cry, but my own eyes were so filled with tears that I couldn't see who it was.
My head snapped up as Houki jumped out of her chair and yelled a name I barely recalled hearing at some point. The normally quiet girl rounded on Cecilia and grabbed the sobbing girl by the shoulders, excitedly yelling right in her face.
"Remember what that girl Ilya said before when Shirou's family came to see him, after he was injured during the unmanned drone incident? 'You idiots can't even heal anyone properly.' She has to be one of them! If Shirou is hurt because of a magician, he should be able to be healed by one too!"
That was a stretch... but then again, if Shirou knew magic then it wouldn't be wrong to assume that the people living in his household knew of magic as well. And if magic was powerful enough to match several IS in a straight up fight, then surely there was magic capable of healing as well, right?
Cecilia was heartened by this news, and dried her tears. "That's right. Didn't Shirou-san say he had fought this man before? Someone must have healed him afterward- he doesn't seem capable of fighting without nearly killing himself- so his family would be a good place to start."
Orimura-sensei looked thoughtful, then blossomed into a full smile. "Suddenly an old conversation makes a whole lot more sense," she said, her smile turning feral. "Don't worry students, I think Shirou will be just fine."
If anything, her evil grin assured me even more than her words. If there was anything I knew about the straight-laced and serious teacher, it was that she loved to torment Shirou more than anything else. If she was already planning her retribution, I could rest assured that he would recover.
And I was going to kill him when he woke up.
Author's note- Obviously it's a short chapter, but I've gone so long without an update that I figured readers would want a short something instead of more nothing. Not really much to discuss this chapter- Shirou went down quickly because he was trying to cover a bunch of different people while fighting the Goddamn Lancer (not a good idea), and if you're curious the conversation Chifuyu is remembering is the one in chapter 5 between the Fate/Stay Night crew (she was listening in with Senken).
As for last chapter I was frankly amazed with the number of people calling Shirou an idiot. That wasn't my intention at all. I mean, if you lived with a boy, showered next to him, changed with him in the same room, and out of nowhere one day he tells you he's a girl while offering exactly zero proof and then saying he's a spy on top of that, would you just nod your head and say 'okay that makes sense'? Or would you have a healthy dose of skepticism for his claims? Just because we know Charlotte is a girl doesn't mean it's obvious to the other characters. And, as we all know, Shirou tends to dig in his heels whenever he thinks he's right in an argument, so unless Charlotte offers him some definite proof he's not going to believe her after she failed to convince him once.