#1-This world is cruel. It will not coddle you. It will not help you. It will not mourn your passing. The only way to mark your existence on this world is to forge your own path through it, no matter what stands in your way.
My eyes slowly open, the effort impossible despite the ease of the task. What was I doing here? Who is this man, whose smile speaks of joy I’d never known? What happened? All I can remember is… fire and… screams. Faces of anguish reaching out for aid. And me, trudging aimlessly through the destruction, unable to hear. Unable to respond. Unable to do anything but move forward in search of… something. What was I looking for? My family? Who were they? They were important to me, but they were… Me? My name. I can’t remember. It’s so close, just out of reach. I am…
The man begins speaking, his words heard but almost indecipherable. I can’t understand, but I’m certain he was thanking something. I’m a little jealous that he could be so happy, just having found someone. I wonder how the joy I see on his face can exist in this ashen wasteland.
I watch, barely comprehending, as the man’s chest explodes outward toward me, blood splattering my face and clothes already caked in soot and more dried blood. The smile wavers before the man is brushed aside.
Another man, his right arm red and dripping, stands in his place. He also has a smile, but it’s something much different. The same joy plays across his face, far more malicious than the other’s could have ever been. The smile fades as he lays his eyes on me, mild interest taking its place. He kicks the other man’s body further away and knelt closer to me.
He looks deeply into my eyes. I’m not sure what he sees there, but what I see is strange. His eyes seem… empty. Devoid of purpose, emotion, or desire. No, that’s not right. Maybe at another time, but now there’s… something. A yearning. The will to seek out something true. Something worth fighting for. A wish for fulfillment. It’s… familiar and… captivating.
The man suddenly begins to laugh, standing up and drawing his right hand over the side of his head as if he was afraid it would be shaken off by the convulsions. I don’t know why, but I want to be closer to that. That happiness.
I weakly stretch out my right hand, reaching for something that I can’t yet conceptualize. Something to bring me that joy.
The man looks down at me, the same smile from before dancing on his face, before drawing his right hand away from it, showing bloody smears streaking across, and reaching down to grasp my hand.
“Tell me, my son,” he asks me, kneeling down once more to lift me from the rubble I didn’t realized I lay in. “What is your name?”
His deep, clear voice cut through the murk of my mind, and I’m finally able to grasp the name that had slipped from my mind so easily before. A small glimmer of clarity in the fog of my past. I remember. I rasp out the words, my life forever linked to that singular name.
“My… name is…”
“Can you fix it, Kotomine?”
I looked up at Issei with a playful smile. Today, I had been asked by the student council president to see if the various appliance breaking down in the club rooms could be fixed. Apparently, the current budget was tighter than expected, meaning the replacement of said appliances wasn’t viable at the moment.
“Shouldn’t be an issue,” I told him. “But if you plan on me fixing all of them, I may have to start charging you.”
“Like we could spare the expense,” he replied dryly before rising from his seat. “I’ll leave you to it.”
Issei left the room, sliding the door closed behind him. All jokes aside, charging him for the repairs wouldn’t feel right considering the ease of the task. Not a permanent solution, but all I can do for now is patch up the power cord. A little electrical tape, and it should last till the end of the semester. I can probably fix it up before we get to that point, though.
Even muffled by the door, I could hear Issei’s tired expression through his words.
“Tohsaka. You’re here rather early. I’m sorry to tell you that Kotomine will be busy helping me this morning, so you’ll have to talk to him later.”
“You assume that passing the student council room means I wish to speak with him? My, aren’t we presumptuous, Student Council President?”
I shook my head as I wrapped the troublesome segment of cord with tape. Issei was right. Rin didn’t usually come to school this early. She had never been much of a morning person, so I understand him seeking some ulterior motive. I was curious myself.
As I began to carry the heater to the door, Rin spoke once more after an annoyed growl from Issei.
“I merely decided to come earlier than usual. Surely the student council president isn’t against such promptness.”
I opened the door and placed the heater between the door frames.
“Perhaps not,” I said, giving Rin a smirk. “But when the illustrious Rin Tohsaka graces us with her presence so early in the day, we can only be suspicious.”
“Well, perhaps I wished to encourage the other students, showing them that those who excel put in that extra effort.”
“Silly me. I thought that was my job.”
We both smiled at that.
Ever since we were young, competition was a near constant between us. While I was far better at Bajiquan after all the years Father drilled it into me, her grades and knowledge of magecraft still exceeded mine, if only marginally in the former. Grades were the one thing we felt had relatively equal footing, so we’ve been trying to out-do the other.
Currently, she was in the lead, but I thought I could take it by the end of semester.
“Kotomine,” Issei said after clearing his throat, drawing our attention back to him. “We can’t afford to waste any more time here if we’re going to fix the heater in the A/V room.”
He was right, of course. I picked up the heater once more and replaced it in the student council room before following after Issei who had already begun to move.
“I’ll catch you later, Rin,” I told her as I went.
Rin hummed thoughtfully in response, which was the most confirmation I’d be getting. With a little extra effort, I caught up to Issei.
“It is a bit odd for her to be so early,” he said, glancing back at Rin.
“She probably just set her alarm wrong,” I told him. “That, or what she said is true. We could be seeing a lot more of her in the morning.”
“Somehow,” he brought his eyes forward once again. “I doubt that.”