Author's Note: So, Elf was a bit depressed of late, having some dark times, and I offered to write her a little something to cheer her up. She asked, of course, for what she likes: Archer, preferably with some Rin on the side for flavoring. That's all she asked for: Archer and Rin. Today, I teach her to be more specific.
Today, I teach her to be more specific.
Archer had to look up from his book to be sure he'd heard that properly.
Rin, as a rule, didn't sneeze. Her immune system was like military-grade ballistic armor. You saw that as a rule in magi, to be honest; possession of incomprehensible otherworldly powers that could use the wielder's innate magical energy to shrug off lethal wounds meant that catching a cold typically was not a thing that happened.
He listened, trepidation filling his soul, as Rin sniffled a few times and blew her nose in a tissue. This... this could not be good.
"Rin?" he asked, against his own better judgment. "Are you... okay?"
"Eh? Yeah, I'm fine. Why?" Rin asked, looking up from her own book. Most nights in the Tohsaka household had been like this, since the end of the War. Both of them, in general, preferred a quiet, contemplative atmosphere. And since, given their circle of friends, they almost never actually got this, they tended to encourage it when at home. 'Sit down, shut up, and enjoy the peace' was the general order of the evening.
"... No reason," Archer said. Perhaps he had imagined it. Or maybe she'd just gotten a gem stuck up her nose during research, or something, and it was a one-time fluke. Yes, that was probably-
"A-choo!" Rin sneezed, reaching for a new tissue.
Okay, this is just getting scary, Archer thought. "Rin? Um... did something happen today? Something out of the ordinary?"
"Eh? No, not really. I mean, school was a bit weird," Rin said. "We had some visitors..."
"I am not sure why I have to be here," Rin muttered. "You're the Student Council President, it makes sense for you. But why me?"
"For once, we agree," Issei Ryudou grumbled. "But the principal was insistent. Apparently he wanted the 'best possible exemplars of our student body to inspire the youth of tomorrow'. I am not sure how he determined one of these was you."
Rin gave him her sweetest fake smile. "Well, I am a stellar example of the female student body. Beautiful, intelligent, popular, universally loved. So in the end I suppose I cannot blame him. It's just the burden I have to bear as one of the exceptional people."
Issei looked very much as though he wanted to smack her, which was the reaction she had been hoping to get, so she wasn't too upset. But then, before he could snark back, the reason for their waiting together walked into the school.
Or, to be more accurate, ran into the room, screaming.
Elementary schoolers, dozens of them, part of the high school's new program to work more closely with the other schools in their district, particularly the ones for younger children. Such as the elementary school two miles down the street.
It is a indisputable fact of science that no number of teachers, regardless of the strictness of the school system or the skill of the educators involved, can keep total control over a group of forty kindergarteners. It just can't be done. They would be wrangled eventually, but for the moment, the whole gaggle of sticky, screamy little tiny people rolled into the hall like a wave, running around, pawing things, pointing at things, screaming.
Issei shuddered. "I knew this was a bad idea."
Privately, Rin agreed, but she wasn't about to go around saying that Issei had a point. It would go to his head. Instead, she knelt down to look one of the little monsters in the face and put on her sweetest smile. "Oh, don't listen to him. He's just a grumpy old man. Let's focus on the fun people. How are you, little girl? Excited to be here?"
The child, who looked to be about six, and whose uniform was at least a size too large for her and complimented by an absolutely enormous rain hat that gave her overall appearance the vague impression of a soggy mushroom, gave Rin a shy, adorable little smile that even Rin had to admit was pretty damn cute.
She then, without the slightest warning, sneezed directly into Rin's face.
Rin just knelt there a moment, dripping, as the little girl rubbed her nose. Issei didn't laugh out loud, but she knew him. He was laughing on the inside.
"'m 'sry," the little mushroom girl said.
Rin sighed, Issei's non-existent laughter still somehow managing to ring through her ears. "Apology accepted."
Back to Reality...
"So it was kind of a mixed day," Rin said in conclusion.
"Um...Rin. Not to put too fine a point on this. But I don't think I've heard you sneeze so much... ever. Do you think you might be coming down with something?"
Rin giggled. "Awwwwww, is Mr. Mom worried? Relax! The Tohsaka Immune Sytem is an invincible shield. I never get sick."
Archer chuckled. "Yeah, I guess you have a point. I mean, if you can shrug off being stabbed or immersed in evil or any of the other junk you put up with, it's pretty unlikely you're gonna catch a cold!"
"See? Knew you'd get it," Rin said cheerfully. "It will take a lot more than some kindergartener's germs to bring me down."
The Next Morning...
"I wish I was dead..." Rin grumbled, her voice so scratchy as to be almost inaudible.
"I told you that it sounded like you were coming down with something," Archer said. "Not my fault you didn't listen."
"You shut your damn mouth. You're already dead, and it's given you perfect health while I'm ravaged by the Ebola virus, you lucky son of a bitch," Rin snarled, the croaking in her throat giving her voice a guttural, growling quality it didn't usually have.
"Ah, yes. My life has been a never-ending parade of good fortune," Archer drawled. "How could I have missed it."
"At least your life was healthy. I am dying, Archer, dying of some horrible mutant space-virus given to me by a goddamn demon disguised as a child disguised as a mushroom," Rin croaked. "My throat is on fire, my head is spinning, I can barely breathe. I'm sure it's only a matter of time until my liver turns to acid and I die in horrible anguish."
"Rin. Can the drama, please. You have a cold."
"What?!" Rin squeaked. "No way. People get colds all the time and survive them. No mortal being could endure the agony I am in as we speak."
"Or maybe the fact that most people have had twenty of them by the time they're seven years old has something to do with building up a tolerance," Archer suggested dryly.
"Impossible," Rin declared stoutly. "I maintain we're dealing with something beyond the ken of mortals. Possibly Magical Cancer, result of some kinda plague curse. I'm gonna have to research it. Try to determine a counter-spell before it liquefies my brain and turns my liver into poisonous spikes."
"... Rin, you need a few days of rest and some soup. Stop acting like you've been hit with a bio-weapon."
"I can't afford to rest, while I'm under attack, Archer, " Rin declared. "... and soup is too hot. I want ice cream."
"Ice cream is bad for y-"
"I want ice cream to cool my throat, Archer," Rin informed him. "You get that ready, while I am in the lab. I need to lift this plague curse before the Horseman of Pestilence uses this lethal magical disease to turn me into his spectral bride."
Archer watched as she left, blinking several times. "Spectral bride...?" he asked nobody in particular.
Archer was a Servant, and thus, was supposed to Serve. That was how these things went, he was sure, and under normal circumstances if Rin wanted to do something self-destructive, he would have just let her run with it, laughing as he did.
But this situation had gone beyond Rin's usual amusing naivete. She had pretty clearly never actually gotten sick before, and the somehow the skewed thought processes of her her fever-addled brain and had combined with her normal inability to cope with stress, and the end result was something not entirely unlike genuine insanity. He had no problem with allowing Rin to reap the psychological trauma of being too soft on enemies or worrying about (ugh) Shirou Emiya. He did, however, have a kind of personal interest in making sure she did not explode herself, which was the likely result of fucking around with magic when she was not at peak efficiency.
He would have to be a bit forceful about this.
The door to Rin's lab was three-inch thick steel, and heavily warded against intrusion with a variety of magical defenses.
One A-rank sword, five seconds, and Archer left it in two pieces on the ground.
"Archer, I'm glad to see you!" Rin said. "I was just about to summon the Demon of Plagues to offer him a sacrifice in order to draw away this terrible curse, and I need someone to help me kill a goat for the blood I need. Also I need a goat. And some ice cream."
"Rin, you have a fever and you need to lie down. Do I have to drag you?" Archer asked flatly.
Rin rolled her eyes, and ran a shaking hand across her flushed, sweat-covered forehead. "I do not have a fever. Jeez."
"That's a yes, then," Archer said. Without another word, he stepped forward, slung the girl over his shoulder, and dragged her out the door like a sack of potatoes.
"Hey! Hey! You cannot do this to me! I am a great and powerful... I... am... wow, dizzy now. Um. You... should. Stop. Yeah," Rin said. "Gon' kill you."
"Of course you are," Archer said soothingly.
"I 'm. 'M a magical magicianer," Rin muttered.
"Of course you are."
"... ice cream?"
"We'll discuss it after you get something warm in you. Cold is bad for a sore throat," Archer said, depositing her in her bed. "I'll go put some tea on, you get under the covers."
"But the ice might keep the demons away..." Rin protested, a bit groggily.
"... … … sure. Back in a bit," Archer said, shaking his head in bemusement. He had kind of suspected Rin would take illness badly, but there were limits.
Still, he had gotten her into bed, and that was half the battle. Now he just needed to get her something warm to drink (and Archer made a damn good cup of tea, if he did say so himself) and possibly some cold medicine of some sort. Between multiple soothing influences and her own general illness-based fatigue, she should fall asleep soon enough.
He set the kettle on to boil and added the leaves, and just for the extra effect, got out the ingredients to make some light soup. Rin might not want it now, but she'd be hungry at some point and it couldn't hurt to have the broth ready to go, at least. Once everything was on low heat and stirred, he figured he'd have time to run up and check on her one more time before the tea was complete, and decided to take it.
"Rin?" he asked, nudging open her door. "Are you doing ok-come on."
Rin was, to be fair, still in her bedroom. She had even ditched her sweat-soaked pajamas for a clean robe. It just wasn't a bathrobe.
Rin looked up at Archer in annoyance, the black ceremonial robe covering her from the neck down as she inscribed a mystical circle on the floor of her bedroom. "Yes, Archer? I'm in the middle of something here."
"Rin. I thought we were over the demon thing."
"I'm not summoning a demon, idiot," Rin said, rolling her eyes. "I'm punching a hole in the time-stream to go back and make sure I never encounter the hellspawned monster that gave me this virus in the first place."
"... that may actually be a little worse, Rin. Also, impossible. Also, it's just a cold for the love of God chill out."
"Archer. Look, I understand that from your perspective, this might look like a mundane illness. But that's because you don't have all the details," Rin said. "Here, let me explain..."
The previous day...
"Oh, my, it is just so hot in here," Issei said, speaking with an audible lisp. "I fear that my delicate constitution can't handle it."
"Stop being such a wimp, Issei. The school requested I be here because I'm the single greatest student we've ever had, but your only reason for being here is to be my backup," Rin said, slipping on a pair of shades.
Issei cast a glare of open envy and venom at her, muttering, "Damn your obvious superiority! My jealousy knows no bounds!"
"I know, Issei. I know," Rin said. "But your crippling envy and fear of strong, independent women will have to wait. Right now, we need to foster the future of Japan."
The doors opened, and dozens of kindergarteners walked in, each of them dressed in a red shirt and either black skirt or pants, many of them carrying signs that said, "Rin Tohsaka Fanclub."
Rin smiled at all the charming little cherubs, the pride in her eyes at seeing how much they all loved her fairly obvious. "Greetings, children! I'm so glad to see you all looking so bright-eyed and eager to learn," she said cheerfully.
"We love you, Rin!" all the children shouted in joy. "We hate that guy with you!"
Rin laughed delightedly as Issei smoldered in impotent rage. "Oh, everyone does. He's so boring. But come, children, who wants to see where I go to school every day, as the beloved student idol?"
"Yaaaaaaaaaaay!" all the children shouted.
"Miss Rin?" one particular, oddly ugly and clearly sinister little girl said, stepping forward. "I have a special present for you from all of us."
"Oh? What is that, little one?" Rin said kindly, not judging the young lady based on her looks, because Rin was not that shallow.
"Your doom!" the girl snarled, her eyes glowing the deadly blood-red of a Dead Apostle, as she opened her mouth wide, sending a cloud of horrible black mist shooting into Rin's face, as the rest of her fanclub shrieked in terror and Issei fainted from the shock...
Back to Reality...
Rin nodded in satisfaction. "Do you understand now?"
Archer blinked a few times. "That story... sounded a bit different the first time you told it, Rin."
"You probably just weren't paying attention right," Rin said dismissively. "Look, we have a lot of work to do?"
"I'll need you to kill the Time Monsters that come out when I open the portal. I won't be able to hold them off and kill the Time Monsters," Rin said as though this were the most obvious thing in the world.
"... Time Monsters."
"Yeah. They'll probably be some kind of... I don't know. Giant cockroaches, or things made of clockwork. Gargoyles? Can't be sure, really, but there will definitely be some kind of Time Monster. They always show up when you fuck with the timestream, I've seen enough movies to know that."
"Rin. I need you to very carefully listen to what you're saying," Archer said. "You are saying that you plan to travel back in time..."
"... potentially dying in the process..."
"... so that you can avoid encountering a kindergartener..."
"Like, 90% sure she was a vampire."
"... so that you can get over a cold," Archer finished.
"Plague curse," Rin said stubbornly. "I can't just ignore that, Archer. By this time tomorrow I'll be lucky if my internal organs haven't melted."
Archer rubbed his temples a few times to hold off the agony. "And you never stopped to consider that maybe, just maybe, that you're reacting badly becase you've never been sick before and your mind is rebelling at the thought of having to just sit back and let someone take care of you?"
Rin rolled her eyes. "Archer, please, that would be crazy," she said as she sat in the middle of her eldritch, time-rewriting magical circle.
"Okay, then. Time to be a bit more forceful about this," Archer said. For the second time that day (and he suspected not the last) he threw Rin over his shoulder like a sack of vegetables.
"Wait! Archer, I was in the middle of-"
"I know what you're in the middle of, and that's why I'm moving you out of the middle of it before you obliterate history," Archer said flatly, dragging her down the steps to the kitchen. "The tea should be done in about ten minutes, and the soup will be done in about twenty. You will drink the former and eat the latter, and then you will be a very good girl and go to sleep, or I will knock you unconscious and consider that 'close enough'. Are we clear?"
"... … d'n like tea," Rin muttered, stopping to rub a trail of sweat from her forehead.
"Yes, you do, you drink tea all the time. Besides, it's good for your throat."
"... … d'n want soup. Want ice cream."
"Soup is better for you, and it will make you feel better. Cold doesn't help a sore throat, warmth does."
"... 'm not tired."
"Yes, you are, or you would have hit me by now. Probably in the face," Archer said firmly, shutting down her final protest.
"... … … point," Rin muttered. "Still wanna magic."
"I'm sure you do, but that's insanely stupid," Archer said soothingly. He poured the water from the heated kettle over the leaves and began letting them steep. "There. Just a few minutes until you have some nice soothing tea. Doesn't that sound nice and not remotely suicidal?"
Rin sighed. "Guess you do make good tea. Even though you suck. Jerk."
"I would rather be a jerk than be trapped beyond time for all eternity," Archer said smoothly. "Drink."
Rin sipped the fragrant drink, inhaling deeply. "Aaaaaaah. Oh, that does feel better."
"It's not exactly my specialty, but I do know how to take care of an illness, Rin," Archer said, a gentle smile on his face. "Sip it slowly, and by the time you're done, I'll have some light food finished. That sound okay?"
Rin sighed. "Okay, okay. You win, jeez," she said between sips. "Honestly. An illness. It's just so... pedestrian. I'm a magus, I'm not supposed to get colds."
"Never underestimate the germs a young child can carry," Archer said dryly, slicing up the vegetables to add to the broth. "Nothing is a perfect defense against that."
"Heh, I guess not," Rin said with a dark chuckle. "I... I guess I just didn't want to admit it. Didn't want to admit I was being brought low by something so mundane. I wanted the problem to be something big and dramatic that I could solve with my own power."
Archer smiled warmly. "It's okay, Rin. I know how better than anyone how hard it can be to admit you need help. And for something so mundane, it must be even harder; you're used to having the power to deal with much more complicated problems much more easily."
Rin smiled. "Yeah. I wanted a big, impressive magical problem that I could solve with my magic and make myself look all brilliant and powerful. Instead, I got this silly, mundane problem..." she began.
"That you can just sleep off, enjoying a lazy day or two of warm food and bed-rest," Archer finished for her.
It should be mentioned at this point that Archer was not looking at Rin. He was making soup, and being a great chef, he was of course focusing on that more than anything else. Had he seen the look on Rin's face, he would have known better than to assume that was how she was planning to finish her sentence.
"... that I can totally solve with my magic and make myself look all brilliant and powerful!" Rin finished, a slightly unhinged smile on her face.
Archer stopped mid-stir. "What."
"Archer, I just had the best plan!" Rin said, standing up, her tea forgotten. "The problem is a cold, right? So I just need to cure the common cold!"
"... Rin. I really shouldn't have to point this out, but the reason that hasn't been done is that it is both very hard to do, and in no way worth the effort," Archer said gently. Rin was smiling brilliantly, and nothing good ever came of that.
"Yes, but they were all trying to do it with science, and science is for pussies. We are gonna look in on that virus, and we are gonna magic the Hell out of that bitch." Rin said, her tone indicating that she found this to be logic. "In fact, I already have an idea!"
Then the room exploded.
Archer and Rin cried out in shock, as a sudden wave of searing white light flooded the room they stood in, covering their eyes instinctively. When they were finally able to see again, there was a second Rin in the room. Sorta.
She was slightly taller and visibly older, for one thing. Her hair was white, instead of Rin's normal black, and her skin a few shades darker, as if the color from her hair had leaked down into her skin, making her appear almost a photo-negative of the Rin he had come to know. She wore a solid red trenchcoat over a black bodysuit that was, because it was still kind of Rin, cut to show off her legs. Black high-heeled boots completed the outfit.
Granted, of more concern to both of them was the cloud of gemstones that floated in the air around her, humming with an almost tangible aura of power that made Archer's teeth vibrate. And the fact that she was staring at his Rin with clear, obvious loathing.
"Rin Tohsaka! I am yourself, from the future of a parallel world in which we destroyed all life trying to cure the common cold! You may call me... Future Rin!" she declared in a voice that echoed with power. "As penance for my act, I made a contract with the planet Mars to be sent back in time to correct my mistakes by destroying my own past self!"
"... why Mars...?"
"It was closest!" Future Rin declared, her tone of voice indicating she thought this was a very dramatic statement.
Rin blinked a few times. "Well, on the plus side, this is pretty definitive proof that the plan I just had wouldn't have worked. So, back to the drawing board on that one. Good to know."
"Rin, we have more serious things to worry about at the moment. Like how she's going to kill y- wait. I thought you destroyed all life?" Archer asked. "How did you get to Mars?"
"I used... a rocket ship!"
"But launching a space shuttle is the work of hundreds of people and weeks of time and effort! You destroyed all life, so... wait, how did you survive your own destruction of all life? You would have been at Ground Zero of whatever catastrophe Rin was about to cause!"
"And it was gonna be a good catastrophe. I was going to work out a way to set everyone's blood on fire to kill all viruses," Rin agreed.
"... Okay, first, new rule: when you are sick, we cuff your hands behind your back to prevent any magic," Archer said. "But getting back to the point, I have to keep adding that none of your story makes any sense."
"Oh, come on. You accept that I'm a Magus from the future empowered by a contract with a sentient planetary essence here to kill my past self, but you quibble over how I got it?" Future Rin snapped.
Archer rolled his eyes. "Yes, because I have done all of that. And before it was cool, too."
Rin blinked. "You have? But who are you the future version o- waaaaait, are you Future Shirou?"
"Yes, yes you are! You're totally Future Shirou! It finally makes sense," Rin said. "Why you two have identical powers and look so much alike and you always get weird around each other and have absurd amounts of homoerotic tension and... wow, how did it take me this long to figure out? And as long as we're on it, why do you have homoerotic tension with yourself?"
"You totally do! Seriously I've seen you two fight each other and it was like watching porn. Sword porn."
"Yeah, well... you flirt with your sister," Archer snapped.
"What?! Where the Hell did that come from?!" Rin snarled.
"From the way you two make googly-eyes at each other every ten minutes!"
"We do not! That is normal sisterly interaction!"
"And the fact you think that statement was true explains a lot about your general mental health."
"You wanna talk about my mental health? I'm not the one who came back in time to murder myself!" Rin snapped.
Without a word, Archer pointed at Future Rin.
"... … Touche, Archer. Touche," Rin admitted.
"Can I start trying to kill her, now?" Future Rin asked, looking like she'd zoned out a bit during the conversation but was trying her very best to get back into it now.
"I'd rather you didn't, if we're being honest," Archer said. "Look, she's not gonna do what made you want to kill her in the first place anymore, so..."
"Yeah, I thought of a way better idea," Rin confirmed.
There was another flash of light, another crash of thunder, and Rin #3 stood in the doorway. Unlike Future Rin, she was dressed in the same manner as 'real' Rin, only her right arm, left leg, and right eye were replaced with mechanical prosthetic body parts, each of them set with vicious weaponry. "Rin Tohsaka! I have come from the future where our plan to cure the common cold by making soup from the remains of the Holy Grail has gone horribly wrong."
Archer turned back to his Rin. "Why do all of your ideas suck?!" he snapped.
"Hey, you keep telling me soup is good for a cold, I just was gonna, y'know, supercharge it a little," Rin said defensively.
"And in so doing, you have doomed us all!" Cyber Rin declared.
"Oh, hey, are you trying to kill her too?" Future Rin asked.
"I am, lest she condemn all mortals to a rotting, disease-ridden nightmare world where soup has come alive to feast on our limbs!" Cyber Rin said.
"Mind if I help?"
"Not at all!"
Future Rin's gems pulsed, releasing a brilliant bolt of pure white light that scythed through the air, while Cyber Rin fired a deadly antipersonnel grenade from her mechanical arm.
Both of these had struck empty air because Archer, able to recognize basic patterns, grabbed up Rin and ran before the first blasts started detonating.
"Oops," Future Rin said as she looked through the empty, seared remains of the kitchen. "We probably should have just opened fire without stopping to give speeches."
"That would have been a horrendous breach of time travel etiquette, though. You have to explain where you're from and why you came back," Cyber Rin said primly.
"Archer didn't. He never really confirmed who he was, really, he just smiled while dying and hate-flirted with Shirou."
"Well, of course he didn't. He's an Emiya. Ruffians, the lot of them. Unlike him, we have some family dignity to maintain, and that means obeying the etiquette of temporal assassinations."
Future Rin nodded. "Okay, I see your point. Now, shall we go murder ourself? Elegantly, of course."
"So, do we have a plan?" Rin asked as Archer dragged her upstairs.
"Don't die?" Archer growled. "Honestly, I have no idea how this is even happening. I had to wait for someone to invoke an improperly formed summoning contract while holding something that they hadn't given me yet. I didn't think you could just go back. And it's not like there's some kind of temporal anomaly in the house or..."
Archer stopped. He knew, on some level, that stopping was a bad idea, that he should keep moving and get Rin out of the house as he'd originally planned. But every so often a man just has an epiphany. And when that happens, he sometimes just needs to stop and clear his head.
"Rin," he said, his tone oddly chilly, "How far along did you get with your earlier experiment? The one to go back in time?"
"Oh, I was almost done, when you... oooooooooh, I think I see the problem," Rin said.
"Yeah, ooooooooh," Archer snarled. "Rin, you didn't tell me that you'd mostly ripped open a time portal! I would have kinda been less focused on the soup if I'd known the laws of physics had already been broken!"
"In my defense, my mind is still kinda fuzzy. And my throat is all scratchy," Rin said, as though she thought this was an actual defense.
"That's why I said that I wanted you to just stay in bed!" Archer snarled.
A coruscating bolt of multicolored light burned through the wall, missing them by roughly three inches.
"I think now is not the time to lay blame," Rin said.
"Seconded," Archer said, sprinting again.
They came to Rin's room, and Archer slammed the door behind them. "Okay. Well. We have about two minutes before they find us, so if you know how to close a time portal..."
"I'm not sure how I opened it," Rin said, looking at the sickly gray vortex open in the floor. "My mind is all fuzzy..."
"I never would have guessed."
Rin sighed. "This is all Issei's fault."
"How is it Issei's fault?!"
"Well..." Rin began.
The Day Before...
Rin looked upon the solid gold statue of herself that all the children of the world had carved, and smiled. "Well done, my adoring fans!"
Millions of children were gathered for the Rin Day celebration, all of them wearing her own signature red and black as a symbol of their love for her. They chanted their love, holding up banners and throwing flowers. Rin smiled, basking in the adoration.
Shirou rode up then, on a white horse, his physique gleaming in the sun. "Rin, my love!" he said. "Will you marry me, and take all my money and boss me around to your heart's content?"
"Why, Emiya! I..." Rin began, until evil intervened.
"No so fast, silly-buns!" Lisped the most feminine male voice the world had ever seen. In a flash of dark light, the evil Issei appeared, dressed in his typical clothing; a black corset, hotpants, elbow-length fingerless gloves, and high-heeled black leather boots. "You naughty, naughty things are just fit to be punished!"
Rin's eyes narrowed in fury. "Issei, how dare you bring your intense jealousy of me here to Rin Day!"
"I am jealous of you, because I've always secretly wished I had been born a woman!" Issei lisped, running his hands over himself wantonly. "But today, all of that ends! I shall finally defeat you and claim Shirou for myself, and do nasty, nasty things to him."
Rin stepped in front of Shirou, who obediently hid behind her like a good slave... er, love interest. "You've never bested me before, which is part of the intense and totally justified inferiority complex you have for me."
"True, but until now I have never sought to use your universally admired beauty against you!" Issei lisped, striking a pose. "Behold!"
He gestured, and up rode a dark figure on a sickly-looking horse. He wore a vaguely mushroom-shaped hat, but radiated twisted power.
"Rin Tohsaka, the world's most beautiful woman! I am Pestilence, Horseman of the Apocalypse! I have come forth this day to make thee my spectral bride!" the dark figure roared, hurling at Rin a horrifying plague curse that blotted out the sun.
Back to Reality...
Time was of the essence, and every second counted.
Despite this, Archer couldn't help but spend a few of them staring at Rin in silence.
"So you see what I mean, right?" Rin asked.
"... Did Issei do something? Like, something really bad? Because I didn't think you hated him this much," Archer said.
Rin sighed. "Archer, we have to focus on the time portal. Forget about Issei, and help me think."
"Gesundheit," Rin said. "No, first thing's first. My head is spinning and throbbing from the combination of illness and adrenaline. My temperature is shooting up, and I'm pretty sure all this running around covered in sweat has been very bad for me. So, I'm gonna pass out."
She did so.
Archer stared at her, and blinked a few times. "Well. That's... wonderful. Just wonderful."
Okay, think Emiya. There is a sucking vortex of raw time here, and two evil future Rins trying to kill current Rin. What is there that will make this situation slightly less horrible?
There was a flash of light and sound, and a Rin in a French maid outfit appeared with a tray of cookies and tea. "Hello, sir! I am Maid Rin, from a future where your life doesn't suck. Would you care for a snack?"
"... Well, that's very nice of you, but not exactly what I had in mind," Archer said, taking a cookie. "It's just there's some Rins trying to kill this Rin, and I'm not sure how to go about getting rid of them, and..."
"Would you like some tea, sir?" Maid Rin asked.
"No, thank you, there's actually some already made downstairs," Archer said.
The door exploded.
"... Also, not much time for relaxing at the moment," Archer muttered as two homicidal Rins strode into the room.
"We have come!" Future Rin declared. "To save the future!"
"Twice!" Cyber Rin confirmed.
"Now, Archer! Prepare to diiiiiie!"
"I thought we were here to kill our past self?" Cyber Rin asked.
"... He's in the way!"
"Fair enough," Cyber Rin said with a shrug, raising her arm-based missile launcher as Future Rin began to glow with cascading magical doom.
Archer called up mana, willing a projection into existence... when a red, black, and white flash leaped in front of him driving the two attackers back with a gigantic, glowing halberd that practically screamed with magical power.
"Worry not, sir! I went to the Einzbern School of Housemaiding. I am well-equipped to repel these ruffians!" Maid Rin declared, her halberd striking up sparks off Cyber Rin's metal arm as she continued to slash at the two figures, holding them back.
Archer's eyes widened. "Okay, wow, you're way better than my Rin."
"I heard that... gon' kill you..." his Rin muttered in her sleep. Such a sweet girl, she was.
Archer ignored her and trusted his back to Maid Rin, wondering vaguely how to go about closing a time rift. Unfortunately, I'm not a genius at theoretical quantum-magecraft. I have no idea how she did this, and I haven't the slightest idea how to go about fixing i-
A by-now familiar flash of light, and a Rin wearing a labcoat and glasses appeared. "Hullo. I'm Genius Rin, a Rin from a future where she's actually got the common sense to match her magical skills."
"... Wow, this thing is convenient," Archer said, looking at the time-stream.
"Actually, my being here is an incredibly bad sign. Originally new Rins only showed up when Rin had an idea that would have changed the future, now they're showing up any time that anyone has a need that a Rin could fill," Genius Rin said, adjusting her glasses. "The timeline is becoming increasingly fluid, and we probably have only minutes before all realities collapse on themselves into an eternal hellscape suspended eternally in a sea of anti-time."
"Quite so," Genius Rin said, adjusting her glasses again. "Luckily, I am a genius."
"The name did imply as much."
"Also quite so," Genius Rin agreed. "I believe that the temporal vortex can be destabilized by the simultaneous elements of aspects from several mutually exclusive competing timelines, followed by destroying the matrix that originally formed it."
"So... in other words, I have to throw in things from several alternate futures, and then smash it really hard," Archer said.
"Yes, that would be the best way I could think to put it in Layman's terms," Genius Rin said.
He pointed to the three Rins holding a running fight in the hall behind them. "Would those two bitches do?"
"Ooooooh, quite so!" Genius Rin said.
"And what happens to you when I do this? Just asking since you've been so helpful.
Genius Rin pondered it. "Well, I cannot be certain without further experimentation, but my current hypothesis is that either I will snap back to my own timestream, or I will be sent to a world where people use pudding instead of money."
"This is only a hypothesis, of course."
"... Works for me," Archer said with a shrug, projecting his favored swords. "Hey! Maid Rin!"
"Yes, sir?" Maid Rin asked, always ready to offer service with a smile as she attempted to dismember her master's enemies with a giant enchanted halberd.
"We need to throw those two into the big swirly thing!" Archer said. "Think you can manage it?"
"They are quite troublesome, sir, if you could arrange some assistance, sir," she said, batting aside a bolt of light.
"I'll be right th-" he began, before a by-this-point anticlimactic burst of light filled the room.
"Hola!" shouted the new arrival. She looked... vaguely Rin-shaped, but it was hard to tell given that she was covered head-to-toe in glittery red spandex, including an elaborate red-and-black mask. "Me llamo Luchador Rin!"
The entire world seemed to fall silent at this. And really, Archer couldn't blame it.
"Um..." he finally said, pointing at Future Rin (who at this point he was considering renaming Mars Rin or something since there were literally five Rins from the future at this point) and Cyber Rin. "Sic 'em."
"Arriba!" Luchador Rin screamed, leaping into action. In a single smooth motion, she flipped over Maid Rin, hooking one arm each around Future Rin and Cyber Rin before dropping them both into a brutal Double Power Bomb.
I am never telling anyone about this adventure, Archer thought, struggling to keep his mind from melting at what he was seeing. I'll tell Rin it was all a dream when she wakes up, and I will never tell anyone about what really happened. It will be my secret, forever, that I will take to my grave.
"Arrrrrrrrrrriba!" Luchador Rin screamed, flipping the two killer Rins about like hackey sacks, their screams of pain echoing through the house. She leaped up, through the ceiling, and Archer could hear them crashing around in the attic before she released her final battle cry: "I don't even really speak Spaaaaaaanish!"
The ceiling over the time vortex shattered, the three Rins falling down into the pit with all the fury of... well, of a Mexican wrestler piledriving a cyborg and a superwizard.
Yup, Archer thought as the wave of light burst out of the portal, flowing over and through everything in the house, Never telling anyone about this.
Rin stirred, her eyes fluttering open. "A-Archer...?"
"Right here, Master," her Servant said warmly. "How are you feeling?"
"Horrible..." she groaned. Her throat was on fire, her whole body felt hot and heavy, her head was pounding horribly, and she could barely keep her eyes open. "Where am I?"
"In the hospital. Apparently you had a mild case of pneumonia... probably didn't help that you were running around covered in sweat while you should have been resting in bed," Archer chided her.
"Not inclined to argue," Rin grumbled. "Can I have something cool to drink? My throat..."
Archer handed her a glass of ice water, as if by magic. "Sip it slowly, and not much of it. At this point fluids are more important than anything, but warmth is still better than cold."
Rin took a few cautious sips. "I feel really bad, Archer."
"And I had the weirdest dream..."
"Yes, you did. And it was only a dream and nothing else at all," Archer said. Had Rin been more mentally aware, she might have noticed his tone was a little weird when he said this, but as it was, she just handed him back the cup and closed her eyes.
"I bet this is all Issei's fault," she muttered, as sleep overtook her.
Archer smiled just a little bit sadly, and brushed her hair away from her face. "Bitch," he said, fondly.
"Jerk..." Rin murmured, as the blackness closed in behind her eyes.
Tomorrow, she would absolutely freak upon seeing the horrible state her house was in; the kitchen, the attic, the upstairs hall, and her own bedroom in shambles. But for today, Rin was too tired to do anything at all but sleep.
Overall? Not the worst way to end the day.
Genius Rin looked about and sighed as the people of the bustling city went about their business. It looked as many other cities did, save that everyone going about the hectic marketplace seemed to be pushing a wheelbarrow full of pudding.
"Well. That could have gone better," she said with an annoyed sigh.
"Tea, mistress?" Maid Rin asked.
"As long as I'm not expected to have pudding with it."