Fire. That was the world that the young boy was brought into. It may have not been true in the literal sense, but as the boy wandered through the burning streets, all traces of his past were consumed by the flames. He could vaguely hear the cries of despair and pain around him, but he did not truly listen to it. It merely sunk into his being as he walked forward, step by step, headless of the cries of the dying, of the desolation around him, of his own wounds and burns that gradually slowed his forward march. The boy only barely noticed when his legs gave out underneath him and he collapsed to the ground on his back.
It was the fire that created him. And like a flame, he was going to be extinguished.
However, that was not to be. As the boy stared up at the dull orange sky created by the flames and the clouds, a face moved into his vision. It was a man's face, with short brown hair and empty eyes. There was no expression on the man's face for the longest moment. Then, the man smiled.
It was not a pleasant or happy smile. Even in the boy's current state, he could tell that it was not a smile that people should have. It was a twisted, cruel thing that only took joy in the suffering of others. Given the multitude of thing the boy could have thought of before unconsciousness took him, it is odd that he thought the thing he did.
Maybe the fire exists to burn things like that…
The boy was lead into a church by the man with the wrong smile. The man… did something to him. He was aware he was not dying anymore, but he wasn't sure how. He had also regained the small bit of self awareness that allowed him to make such an observation. Still, the boy was a long way from functioning, and merely stared forward with a dull expression on his face as the man sat him down in one of the pews.
"Now stay here." The man said before walking off to enter one of the doors in the back.
And so the boy sat, merely looking forward at nothing. There was nothing more for him to do than just… exist. He was a hollow shell, empty of any substance.
Almost. Thoughts of that man's smile floated though his mind. Thoughts of the fire that burned away at the world it existed in.
It was then the boy became aware of something of to his right. Turning his head, he saw rows of prayer candles lining the one of the walls. Instinctively, he got up and walked over to them. He paused and looked at the dancing flames, each point of light flickering.
If anyone had seen the grin that etched itself on the boy's face, they would have felt a shiver go up their spine.
Burn it all.
All it takes to start a fire is a spark.
Kotomine ushered the boy along to the front door of the Tohsaka estate. In the few months the child had been under his care, the boy had very seldom been allowed to leave the church. Unbeknownst to the child, the priest had plans for the boy, and he had thought to start by isolating him to make him more pliable. However, Kotomine hadn't anticipated just how… energetic the boy could get when he was cooped up for too long. He had seemed harmless enough at first, barely moving or speaking after bringing him back to the church from the fire. But as soon as the boy recovered…
Kotomine made a mental note to install a new sprinkler system in the main hall. He had no idea how the kid had managed to set the confession box on fire.
"So, what's so important about this place?" The boy named Shirou asked as he eyed the large mansion in front of him. He was a little antsy, be also eager to finally be out and about.
"It is the home of another I happen to be the guardian of." The priest replied and he unlocked the door and the two stepped inside. "She happens to be about your age. I thought it would be good for the both of you to become acquainted."
And get out of my hair for a little while, he thought to himself.
Rin came down the stairs a few moments later, no doubt alerted to their presence by the estate wards. "Oh, it's you. And what have you brought into my house?" She said, eyeing the boy.
Kotomine was growing accustomed to the girl's dismissive greeting of him. Ever since the death of her father, Rin had been growing increasingly aloof and cold, which was in stark contrast to the rather sweet girl she used to be. The thought made him have to suppress a smile. "This, Miss Tohsaka, is the one I took in after the fire. His name is Shirou."
"Clearly." She gave a huff as she looked at the burn marks on the boy's face. "Though I honestly don't understand why you're doing so. You don't seem to be particularly good at raising me."
"Be that as it may, I believe that there is potential in this one, as he has surprisingly good magic circuits. I am planning on training him to become an Executor."
"Oy, can you stop talking like I'm not here?" Shirou grumbled.
Rin spared an annoyed glance him before turning back to the priest. "Well, whatever. You still haven't explained what you're doing here."
"I thought that the two of you could have a… oh what's the word… playdate."
"What?!" Rin said in shock. "Why would I need spend time with him?"
"I dunno, maybe so I could teach you some manners?" the boy said sarcastically.
Before the Tohsaka heiress could get any angrier, Kotomine spoke up. "It is because you need to spend more time among your peers, Miss Tohsaka. Your dedication to magecraft is admirable, but it would be unbecoming of one of your stature to become a shut in."
The small magus's eyes narrowed. "You're not just doing this so you don't have to take care of him for a few hours, are you?"
"Of course not." He lied smoothly. "Now why don't the two of you run outside and… do whatever it is you kids do these days."
He ignored both their protests and ushered the children outside. He planned to enjoy the next few hours of quiet to himself.
"And this is the estate gardens." Rin said primly, waving her hand in the direction of the carefully arranged flower bed. After the priest had all but thrown them out of the house, and as neither one had any idea what to do with themselves, Rin had opted to show the boy around the grounds. "I'm sure someone such as yourself has never seen such a lovely garden."
"Probably," Shirou admitted while he looked at the plants with mild interest. "I haven't really been outside this church, so this is the only one I've seen."
"Hmp. Well, then be grateful that I decided to show it to you."
"Yeah, yeah," The boy responded, waving his hand. "Hey, how fast do you think the whole thing will burn if you put a spark the center?"
"What!?" Rin yelled incredulously. "Why would anyone do such a thing?!"
"… to watch it burn?" Shirou said slowly, like he was saying something that should be blatantly obvious.
"W-w-why you… pyromaniac!" She yelled. "Maybe that phony priest was right to keep you locked up in that church!"
A look of surprise crossed the boy's face before it settled into a scowl. "Hey, what gives?! I was just trying to make conversation. You know, be friendly?"
"I don't need a crazy little delinquent like you to be my friend!"
"Oh really? 'Cause all you've done since we met is talk down to me. Since you seem to be angry all the time, I'd be surprised if you made any friends at all! You can't talk to people like that, even if you are really pretty!"
Rin was about to lay into the uncouth boy when she realized what he said. "W-what did you just say?"
"I said you can't talk to-"
"No, not that the last part!" She shouted.
"I said you are really pretty!" He shouted back, though he was clearly confused.
"Well, yeah." He replied uncertainly. "Why?"
Rin hesitated. Only her mother had ever told her that she looked pretty. Hearing it from someone else was… oddly pleasant. "I… no one other than my mother has ever called me pretty before."
It was now Shirou's turn to look incredulous. "What? How's that possible? It's blatantly obvious that you are. I mean, your eyes look like the sea, your hair is probably the blackest thing I've ever seen," he said, causally listing off her qualities like it was not romantic in the slightest. He stopped and peered at her. "Hey, your face just went all red. Are you feeling alright?"
This observation only proceeded to make the reddening worse and the young magus quickly spun around to hide her face. "I'm fine! Just stop talking!"
"Uh, okay." Shirou said, and he promptly fell into silence and watched the girl in front of him with curiosity as she calmed herself down.
Eventually, she turned back around. "Perhaps I was… hasty in saying that you couldn't be my friend. I suppose that we could… give it a shot."
Shirou had no idea what had just caused the sudden shift in the girl's attitude, but he decided not to question it. "Alright! If we're friends, then we need to make it official!"
Rin titled her head to the side. "How do we do that?"
Shirou opened his mouth and put up his finger… before looking the side sheepishly and scratching his head. "I have no idea." Rin face palmed as Shirou muttered to himself for a few moments longer before saying "I've got it! We'll give each other nicknames!"
"Yep! Friends have nicknames for each other, so that's how we'll know its official!" He then scratched his chin as he looked at her. "But it can't just be anything. It has to be something that sums you up. Something that means 'you'."
As he looked at her, Rin felt an odd bit of anticipation. What would her nickname be? Would it be about how pretty she was? Or how skilled? Or maybe…
"I got it!" Shirou said with a snap of his fingers. "I'ma call you Tsun-tsun!"
"And then she punched me in the face!" Shriou exclaimed to Kotomine, holding a bloody tissue under his nose.
The priest gave a sigh. "I suppose it was too much to ask for that you would stay out of trouble for a while." He said as they walked to the front gate.
"It's not like I was trying to cause trouble! She got all weird after I said she was pretty, and then she said we were friends, but then she punched me when I gave her a nickname!" the boy sighed. "Then again, I suppose she is Tsun-tsun."
Kotomine arched an eyebrow at this. "Indeed? You might not want to call her that the next time you're here."
"What? No way am I ever coming here again. Rin clearly hates me."
"Are you sure?"
The boy gave the older man a flat look and gestured to his nose. "She punched me. In the face. I think I know enough to know that means the person who did it hates me." He said in a tone like he was explaining something to an idiot.
"Hey! Pryo!" The two males turned around to see Rin standing in the doorway of the mansion.
"What, you mean me?" Shriou asked.
"Of course I mean you." She replied. "I will expect you here next Saturday at noon sharp, understand?"
"Because it's important for friends to meet regularly." Rin said, as if stating the obvious.
Shirou now looked completely lost. "Wha.. b-but if we're friends, why did you-"
"I will not stand it if you are late. Now, enjoy your evening." And with that, she promptly stepped back inside and closed the door.
Shriou stood motionless save for his jaw, which was soundlessly moving up and down, giving him a completely flabbergasted looked. After a minute, he finally turned to Kotomine and asked in a quiet voice. "Father, are all girls crazy?"
The older man simply arched an eyebrow. "Why do you think I became a priest?"
Kotomine couldn't help but smile at the boy's groan of utter despair.
Shirou grunted with exertion as he held his arms out to the sides. The pair of five gallon water jugs he held were only griped by the tips of his fingers, his hands face down and in a claw like shape as he griped their necks. They were barely filled a quarter of the way, but considering that the boy wasn't even into his teens yet and that he had been holding them as such for the past ten minutes, it was actually rather impressive.
Still, this was always Shirou's least favorite part of his training. Yes, he knew why he had to do it: grip strength conditioning was crucial to his martial art as well as being able to properly wield the Black Keys, the sacred blades of the Church. It was just so boring. He wished that he could do what he actually wanted, practicing his fire magecraft. He was aware that this was probably influenced by the fact that he was a Fire incarnation (meaning that both his Elemental Alignment and his personal Origin were fire), but he didn't care. Fire magecraft was his specialty, and he was better at it even than Rin.
This was something that irked the girl to no small degree, even if she was better than him at pretty much everything else. Shirou had offered to help her with it, but she always became indignant, asking if he thought she was incompetent. Then when he points out all the ways she's not, her face gets all red and funny looking. Then she would start hitting him for some reason or another.
Tsun-tsun was weird like that.
Shirou heard the door open behind him, and the voice of his father said. "You got into another fight." It was not a question.
The boy gave a sigh and he put the jugs down. He turned to face the priest, his black eye now visible to the older man. "And your point is?"
"Shirou, I would have hoped that I have instilled the importance of keeping a low profile into you by now."
Shirou gave a snort. "Oh please, those guys were asking for it. They thought they could order me around just because I'm a kid. I did the world a service by beating some sense into them."
Kotomine gave a grunt as he looked over his son with a critical eye. "You look like you bit off more than you could chew. I should not have to tell you that I will be very upset with you if-"
"Relax, I didn't set anyone one fire." This time, he thought to himself. "I didn't use any magecraft. Hence this." Shirou said as he gestured to his eye. One of the jerks was carrying a baseball bat and managed to get a lucky hit in while he was dealing with his friends.
The priest regarded his son with a neutral expression. "So in addition to getting into an unnecessary fight, you took damage from what should have been inferior opponents." Shirou grumbled at the last part of that statement, but Kotomine continued. "You realize of course that in spite of your reason, you still must be punished."
"Yeah, I figured." Shirou said as he gave a sigh. "Well, it's about time for my Reinforcement training anyway, so-"
That was as far as he got before the first blow connected with his stomach.
It was a day much like any other day for Sakura. That was to say, she was currently being harassed by a number of older boys from her class. The 11 year old didn't know exactly why they did it (she never did), but she doubted that there was really any reason necessary. She was tainted after all, meant to suffer for reasons she would never really understand.
Although, it was worth noting that she couldn't even really bring herself to care as the boys shoved her around the street and hit her. This was barely anything compared to the hell that awaited her back at her home. Considering the things that she had already been through, it was sometimes a wonder that she could feel anything at all.
She didn't know how long it continued, only that at some point a new voice emerged throughout the jeers. "Oi! The Hell's going on here?"
As she had been knocked on the ground a few moments prior, she couldn't really see the newcomer past the other boys. All she saw was a pair of legs clad in the uniform pants from her school. The eldest bully turned away from her to address him. "None of your business, twerp! This girl walked down our street without payin' the toll, so now we haveta take it out of her!"
Was that the reason? Sakura didn't know. It was just as likely that the boy made it up on the spot. The other boy, the new one, gave a snort. "Yeah, because beating the girl up will totally make her want to come down this road again. Are you stupid as well so cowardly to fight people who can't fight back?"
The other boy growled. "That's it! We're gonna make that ugly face of yours even more messed up!"
One of the other two boys that had been hitting Sakura didn't seem too keen on this plan, though. "I don't know about this, boss. I think I've heard of this guy. Some of the kids in class said that there was this troublemaker with burn scars and red hair that picks fights with high schoolers."
"Don't be a wuss!" The leader shouted. "The kid probably just made those stories up to make himself sound cool. Now get him!"
The three surged forward to tackle the other boy, but he dodged out of the way with surprising skill before moving back in to strike. As Sakura sat up, she was impressed to see the boy deftly moving in between the other 3, punching and kicking without talking any hits in return. It was clear that he had some kind of training in combat, and was more than a match for the 3 youths standing in front of him.
A few moments later, the three were knocked down or knocked back, groaning in pain. As they picked themselves up, the cautious one from before said "Y-you are him! You're the Red Haired Devil!" With that the three of them ran past Sakura, trying to get away from him. She looked after their fleeing forms dumbly, not quite believing what had just happen. Her attention returned to the boy that saved her as she heard him walk over, and for the first time she got a good look at him.
The boy looked to be about a year older than her, and had short, somewhat pointy auburn hair. More notable though were the burn marks on his face, some of which went down past his collar. She saw more on the back of his hands, and wondered if his whole body had them. His amber eyes weren't looking at her at the moment though, instead looking intensely at fleeing bullies.
"Never matters how many I stop," He said, seemingly to himself. "There's always more. This world is filled darkness and corruption. I wish I could just burn it all away…"
Sakura began to shake slightly at this statement. She knew she was one of those things filled with darkness and corruption, and at that moment the boy looked so resolute. He would find out what she was and dispose of her. At that moment, the boy was terrifying.
He then looked down at her. "Are you alr- Holy Crap you have no pupils!" he shouted as he pointed and gawked at her.
Annnd the moment was over.
Sakura froze, feeling stunned, incredibly confused, and having no idea how to respond to that. It was true that the 'training' that Zouken put her through had made some physical changes to her eyes, but they had a very light mystic effect on them that kept non-magi from noticing anything. And magi usually had more grace or simply didn't care about such mundane things. She had no idea how he noticed, but the sheer unexpectedness of the comment completely wiped away any fear she might have had for the boy. Stranger still, she felt oddly hurt by it, as if she cared what he thought about such a trivial thing.
Apparently some of what she was feeling translated to her face, as the boy's eyes went wide and he started waving his hands in front of him. "Oh God, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to make you upset! Please don't cry!"
Sakura titled her head and scrunched her face in confusion at the boy's panic. It was almost like he was concerned about her. But that couldn't be right. No one could have concern for something like her.
The boy continued "I mean, it doesn't look bad, it just looks different! You still look really pretty, cause your hair and eyes look like Sakura blossoms!"
She froze at this, and stared at him in wonder. "…Really?" she asked in a quiet voice.
"Yes!" He said with some exasperation. "God, why do girls keep asking me that? Why would I lie about them being pretty? It's almost like they can't see its total obvious."
Sakura felt herself blushing faintly. She couldn't remember the last time someone complemented her. She tried to thank him, but it came out as a stutter.
He seemed to interpret this as her still being upset as he said "Ah man, I screwed up didn't I?" He fretted some as he scratched the back of his head. "I got to make this better somehow. What would Tsun-tsun say if she saw this?" He turned away from her and took a lecturing pose as his voice shifted to a higher pitch. "Pyro, you idiot! I suppose it's only natural that an uncouth lout like you would insult the girl he's saving. You haven't even helped her off the ground yet! Now take responsibility for this and treat her to something nice!"
He stopped and snapped his fingers. "Treat! That's it!" he turned back to Sakura and held out his hand to help her up. "I'm sorry about all that earlier. How about I get you some ice cream, my treat?"
Sakura blinked. It had been years since she had ice cream. She used to love it before she went to live with the Matou, before everything became worse. After a moment's hesitation, she reached out and took the boy's hand, deciding that yes, she very much wanted this boy to get her ice cream.
"Shirou, why did you bring some random girl to my house?" Rin asked as she suspiciously eyed Sakura as the other girl tried to nervously hide behind Shirou while gripping his arm.
"Well, I certainly wasn't going to bring her back to the church." He said, as if that was the problem. "I mean, I live there and even I sometimes find it kinda creepy. Given the day she's had, I felt that I needed to bring her someplace more homey, you know?"
Rin's mouth twisted. "I meant, why is she still following you around? Doesn't she have a home to go to?"
"Oh," he said as he scratched his head. "Well, she said she wanted to hang out with me some more."
"S-sempai has been very nice to me." Sakura said before shuffling a bit farther behind him.
Rin frowned as she considered the situation. Of all the people he had to bring home, why did it have to be her? The magus has mixed feelings upon seeing her sister again. She was at least a little glad to see her, but since she now belonged to a different family, that sort of made them rivals. Different magus families, even ones that were allied, often had to make sure that the other wasn't hiding a knife behind their back. For various reasons she had to keep Sakura at arm's length, and not even let Shirou know of the fact that they were siblings.
Of course, had Rin known then that Shriou had shown her sister more kindness in the past four hours then the girl had gotten in the past four years, Rin might have been more considerate.
Shirou gave his oldest friend a frown of his own. "Hey, don't look so scary, Tsun-tsun. She's had a bad day, so be nice and properly introduce yourself." As he said this, he gently pulled the other girl around him and nudged her towards Rin.
"Don't call me Tsun-tsun!" She barked at him for was must have been the thousandth time. She calmed herself down and turned to her sister, wanting to get this farce over with. "I am Rin Tohsaka. It is a pleasure to meet you." She said with a curtsy.
"Ah," Sakura said nervously as she curtsied back. "Sakura Matou. I'll be in your care."
"See, you get along just fine. I think you'll be a good influence on her." Shriou said with a smile.
"And why do you think that?" Rin grumbled.
Shirou's eyebrows rose slightly and he began ticking off his fingers. "Well, you're really smart, outgoing, confident, you could teach her that thing you do when you look even prettier than usual and it kinda radiates off of you…"
Rin's face went red and she sputtered in frustration. He was doing that thing again. That thing where he compliments her so much that if it were anyone else she would know they were patronizing her, but Shirou was just so damn honest and sincere and – Gahh! It always made her feel too many conflicting emotions and confused. Then she gets angry at him for making her confused, as it was clearly his fault.
Before she could get to that stage though, he then looked at the two girls thoughtfully. "You know, there's something about you two. Something similar, yet different. It's like you're related somehow…"
Rin and Sakura shared a glance. It would be bad if he figured out that they were sisters. Then they would have to start explaining things, and that could lead to all sorts of uncomfortable questions. Like why they were separated in the first place, or just what Sakura's magic training was, or-
Shirou suddenly snapped his fingers. "That's it!" he exclaimed before pointing at Sakura. "Dere-dere!"
The two girls stared at him in bafflement as he continued. He pointed at Rin "Tsun-tsun," then at Sakura "Dere-dere". He did it again. "Angry. Nice. It's like you two complement each other perfectly. I'm a genius!" He declared as he put his hands on his hips.
It was quiet in the hall for a moment before a growl emanated from Rin's throat. Right. That's my Shirou Saying Stupid Things limit for the day. Back to anger. And with that thought, the magus threw herself at Shriou with a scream and tackled him to the ground, pummeling him with her small fists.
This might have been disconcerting for the boy if it wasn't all too familiar. "Damn it Tsun Tsun, why do you keep randomly attacking me when I say things?!"
"Because you keep saying stupid things!"
This event basically summed up how the next 5 years or so went for the three friends.
Shirou stood where he was, feeling somewhat nonplussed by his current situation. He had been asked by one of his teachers to deliver some homework to a student who hadn't been to school in a few days, which in itself was a rather strange thing to happen to him. He wasn't exactly an ideal student to start with, and the fact that he barley knew the girl made it very strange that the teacher had asked him to be the one to do it. The older man had looked somewhat scared when he had told Shirou where he was most likely to find her as well, for reasons the teenager didn't know.
However, that reason became much clearer when Shirou found himself surrounded by couple of thugs and was informed he was currently in Yakuza territory.
"And I thought I was a delinquent…" he muttered to himself before addressing the men surrounding him. "So, do any of you guys happen to know where I can find Ayako Mitsuduri? I was told that she hangs out around here a lot."
"I think that you should be more worried about yourself, kid." A seedy looking guy with way too much hair gel responded giving him a sneer. "Tell you what, why don't you give me your lunch money and we'll let you walk out of here like we never saw you."
Shirou sighed in exasperation. He thought he would be done with this sort of thing after middle school. "Schools ended already, idiot. Then again, you don't look like you ever went to one, so maybe you honestly didn't know that."
"You punk!" the man shouted and threw a punch at Shirou's face. It was in sloppy form and was telegraphed for all the world to see, so the teenager had no problem stepping back slightly and catching the fist with his hand. Then he began to squeeze. "AAAAGG!" The man screamed as several loud pops and cracks could be heard from his hand.
"Now that we've gotten that out of the way," Shirou said in a bored tone. "Do you think we could just skip to the part where you tell me where she is? I have some homework I need to give her."
The rest of the men around him gave indignant growls and pulled out various sorts of weapons. Shirou couldn't help but give a small grin as he felt a familiar tension build up inside him. Ever since he had entered high school he hadn't been able to get into a good fight (everyone already knew by that point to steer clear of him), so maybe these guys could scratch that particular itch. Normally, a sane person wouldn't even think of picking a fight with the Yakuza.
Of course, sane wasn't quite applicable when it came to Shirou Kotomine.
"Hold it!" A loud female voice called out. Looking to the side from where he was standing in the street, Shirou saw a woman walk out of the restaurant he was told Ayako was seen visiting. This woman had short brown hair and was wearing a green dress with a yellow and black striped shirt underneath it. She was also carrying a shinai over her shoulder. It made for a rather odd looking sight considering the situation. "Now just what the hell is going on here?"
"This guy broke my hand, Fujimura-sama!" the greasy one said, oddly deferring to this strange looking woman. "We were going to teach him a lesson!"
"You tried to mug me." Shirou said.
The woman gave a frown at the greasy man. "Takato, what have I told you about trying to steal from people? We have an image to uphold! Now, are we clear, or do we have to have a little 'chat' in the back room?" The woman asked with a smile, and her grip tightened on the shinai.
"Ack! No! We're perfectly clear!" The man said, clearing not wanting whatever the woman was implying.
"Good!" The woman said cheerfully before she turned to Shirou with a critical eye. "Now, what's a young man like you doing in this part of town?"
Shirou gave a small frown as it now seemed that he wouldn't get the fight he was hoping for. "Well, I was looking for Ayako Mitsuduri-"
"Ah!" The woman said in surprise, interrupting him. "What do you want with my apprentice?"
"Wait, that uniform, you must be from her school! Which means…" she gave a gasp. "You must be that guy that's been trying to get in her pants!"
"Wait, what?!" Shirou exclaimed, not at all expecting the turn this conversation took.
"I would never let a sketchy looking guy like you at my innocent apprentice!" She settled into a fighting pose and put the shinai before her. "HIYA!" she yelled as she charged him.
"Wait, I'm not-!" Shirou tried to say, but the other woman wasn't listening. She was already on him and he only had a split second to swing his backpack off his back and block the blow with it. However the woman quickly recovered from this and pivoted, striking a blow against his side. He gave a wince of pain and dropped the bag, ducking out of the way of another struck to his shoulder. He desperately dodged the next few blows, trying to explain to the woman that it wasn't what she thought, but after a few moments he stopped trying. It was then he noticed something.
This woman was actually really good.
With a sudden rising strike, she clipped the underside of his chin, and a small amount of blood came from his mouth as his head reeled back. He staggered slightly as he stared at the woman, who was holding out her sword with a look of victory on her face. "Ha! That will teach you for harassing an innocent maiden! I'm not letting you leave until I beat some manners into your skull!"
The woman's confidence was somewhat shaken however when Shirou began to laugh. "Heh… heh heh ahahahah! Leave? Why would I do that? You're looking like the best fight I've had in weeks!" He yelled as he slipped into a fighting stance. Sure he could have ended the fight quickly had he Reinforced himself, but that would take the fun out of it (besides, he hadn't needed to do that to win a normal fight in years).
The woman's eye's narrowed and her grip on her shinai tightened. She wasn't going to back down, but it was clear that she was now taking the teen in front of her more seriously. Both tensed to make the next move before-
"Wait!" A new female voice called out. "Taiga, stop! That's not the guy!"
"Oh come on!" Shirou exclaimed, exasperated by being interrupted again.
Anther woman came running out of the restaurant, this one younger and with longer brown hair. After a moment of consideration, Shirou realized that this was indeed Ayako. The girl in question ran between the two of them and faced the older woman. "Please don't fight him! That's just the guy at my school who gets in trouble all the time!"
"Huh?" the newly named Taiga said. "Then why the heck is this guy here looking for you?"
Shirou sighed. "Well, as I was saying before I was interrupted, I was bringing Ayako her homework." He said, pointed at his discarded backpack. "She has been out for a few days after all."
"Ooooh," Taiga said, looking off to the side embarrassed. "Umm, sorry."
Ayako gave him a curious look. "You walked right into Yakuza territory just to give me my homework?"
"Well, I didn't know that at the time, but yes." Shirou replied. "By the way, what are you doing here? I wasn't aware that there was anyone in the student body that had gang ties."
Ayako looked off to the side. "Taiga-sensei's grandfather is in command of the local organization, and I've known her since she was back at our high school doing kendo. When one of the guys in my class started pursing me more… aggressively, I decided to hang out here for awhile to avoid him."
Shirou frowned at this. "You're not going to school because some guy won't take no for an answer? What an asshole. If you want, I'll go sort it out for you."
The girl was taken aback by this. "Really? You'd do that for me?"
He gave a shrug. "Sure, why not? I might as well punch someone today. Besides, that's no way to treat a person."
Ayako gave him an odd look before a smile crossed her face. "You know, you're not what I expected from someone who's called the Red Haired Devil. I guess I can see why Tohsaka hangs out with you all the time."
"Well, that settles it." Taiga said as she re-shouldered her sword. "Anyone that that'll beat up a lech for Ayako is ok in my book! I shall now have to repay you for your valor!" She then looked off to the side embarrassed. "And for hitting you."
Shirou briefly considered asking to continue their fight, but decided against it. Instead he stole a glance at the restaurant they came out of. "Actually, I can think of one way for can repay me right now…"
The 3 friends looked at each other, their expressions grim. The tension in the air was thick enough to cut with a blade.
"We all knew this day would come." Shirou said, his voice hard.
"Are you afraid, Pryo?" Rin said with her usual superior tone. "You know that there's no surrender in this, that only one of us will remain standing when it's over. And I intend to show you what a true master is capable of."
"He would never surrender Rin. He enjoys fighting to much." Sakura said before she turned to Shirou. "You may be my sempai, but I won't just let you win. I'm going to fight with everything I have."
Shirou nodded and gave a small smile. "I wouldn't have it any other way." He said before his face became serious again. "Are we ready?"
All three tightened their grips on the various tools of battle they were carrying and nodded.
"So be it. Now… BEGIN!"
Steel and fire flashed as each of the three friend threw themselves into the fray, moving as fast as they could to stay one step ahead of their opponents. Were anyone watching, they would have been amazed at the skill and precision they three teens displayed. No one would dare think of interrupting this conflict.
Well, no one other than Taiga anyway. "Hey, when do you guys think you'll be don- oh crap!" She said, ducking as three knifes embedded themselves in the door she had just walked though.
"NOT NOW!" the three of them yelled, not even slowing down from their furious cooking. Now that that had found a kitchen large enough for all three of them to cook in at the same time, nothing would stop them from proving which among them was the greatest chef!
And so the three 'battled', as it were. It would not be the first or last time they had done as such, and in the end, it was a play they enjoyed with each other.
Unfortunately, it was not to last.
A/N: Here it is. The origin of Shirou Kotomine, from what has become my most popular fic, A Soul of Fire. For those of you just tuning in, ASOF is my FSN/Sekirei crossover that was originally just an omake for Gabriel Blessing's In Flight fic. And, like numerous other omakes which I made for that, the idea expanded, took form and became its own thing. And also like before, the character I created has a story worth telling.
(By the way, the term Incarnation is one I sto- I mean borrowed from Third Fang's fic From Fake Dreams. You should go read that.)
For those of you who have been following along, yes I used the 'When Shirou met -' segments for this prolog as this would be the best time for new readers to get that information. Still I threw in a little extra for you guys.
Also, while I have been dropping hints and bits of information about this in ASOF, I'm not going to be 100% faithful to it for a number of reasons. One of which is that I got some things wrong, as it was helpfully pointed out to me that the Catholic Church does not exist in the Nasuverse, as Christianity never schismed there. So, technically Kotomine's comment about becoming a priest doesn't really make sense as priests of the Holy Church are allowed to marry.
However, I like that line, so I'm going to say that the vow of celibacy is an optional but frequently taken vow by priests, thus making his implication sound. Kotomine never said that was why he became a priest, he was just trolling Shirou. And before you ask, no Shirou does not know about Caren, and yes she will show up and be an important character in this fic.
Until next time.