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Oxymoron

Chapter Text

Consecratio

Apotheosis, Anathema

Figuring out Yuri's location was easier and harder than anticipated at the same time. On one hand, it should have become obvious where she was hiding weeks ago and Shirou had no doubt that Mephisto had already figured it out some time ago. She had managed to slip away from Section 13, and even more importantly, Mephisto’s watchful eyes. There was no way the Ba’al’s arrogance would allow Mephisto to lose track of Yuri for long.

Sadly, the part that made it hard to find Yuri, was the fact that the area was full with demons. From small ones, not more dangerous than coal tars, to demons big enough to make Shirou wonder how the hell Yuri, heavily pregnant, had come through here unharmed. Then again, she was carrying Satan's spawn so maybe those demons left her alone or protected her even. Not to forget that Yuri had always maintained a close relationship with her summons, who were far more frightening than most demons Shirou had come across in the past twenty years.

"She's close!" Mephisto announced cheerily, seemingly unbothered by the cold.

Freaking demon bastard, probably had a spell around him to keep him warm while Shirou had to suffer. The white haired man really wondered what persuaded him to become best friends or whatever with Mephisto.

They tramped further through the snow until finally reaching a cave. It was guarded by two snowmen, who seemed to be on the verge of tears, and so let them through without any resistance. For a moment Shirou considered it being a trap, but then decided against it. Traps weren't really Yuri's style. She loved showing her opponents how powerful she was head-on in those rare cases she decided to fight.

"Something feels off," Mephisto spoke up again, this time sounding actually concerned.

Shirou turned to his companion and was graced with the sight of an unnerved appearing Mephisto.
That was something Shirou believed to be entirely out of Mephisto's ability to express. Even after the Blue Night he hadn’t looked too out of place. Now though there was something seriously worrying the Ba’al. Great prospect.
They turned around the next corner, reaching the end of the cave and so Yuri.

She was tired and exhausted, eye bags very prominent and her breathing flat. She wouldn't make it through the next hours. At least not here, maybe in a hospital with good personnel but not here in the middle of nowhere.

Odd how he first assessed the state of his old teammate instead of the two children, glowing blue and white-

Shirou's eyes widened. He had expected Satan's spawn to be there, that was no secret. The child was entirely covered in blue flames that harmed neither them nor Yuri, or anything really. Their ears were as elfish as Mephisto's and the aura they had- well, it was familiar enough to the other Ba’al Shirou had already encountered to confirm their relation. That the child didn’t look as much as monster as expected, well, that one was a little surprising but nothing Shirou couldn’t deal with, unlike the other surprise.

"My, my, this is really extraordinary," Mephisto commented. "Never thought Father's heritage would resurface again."

Shirou followed his gaze to the other twin. Extraordinary really seemed to underestimate the whole situation.

"They have wings and- is that a halo?!" Shirou exclaimed.

Mephisto nodded, frowning at the child.

"I have to admit, I didn't see that coming," the Baal continued, still assessing the situation.

"Didn't see what coming? What? That one spawn of Satan is a freaking angel?!"

Mephisto rolled his eyes at him, giving him an appraising look.

"You might want to tone it down, there are children here."

"Tone it down? Samael, I can deal with a lot of stuff, Heaven knows I put up with you after all, but angels are even too much for me-"

"Bickering with your boyfriend again, Shirou?" A gentle voice interrupted him.

Shirou turned to Yuri and, just like he always had, replied with a heated "Bastard's not my boyfriend!"

Growing up together had established typical questions with the same never changing answers.

Yuri's laughter, even if more timid, still sounded like bells.

"That's what you always say but I've never seen proof that you're not-" She interrupted herself with a coughing fit that sounded everything but good.

"Seems like I won't have much more time left, huh?" Yuri said as soon as she had recovered. She then adjusted her hold on the children carefully, making sure to not hurt the dark tail, Shiro spotted only now, of the demonic twin, or the wings of the angelic one.

"The one with the flames is Rin," Yuri told them. "Written like phosphorus. He's the older one."

For a moment Shirou thought Yuri was trying to joke, naming the child that. She had always had a biting humor and been a bit ironic. Then again the components of that name were beautiful too and well, it wasn’t like they didn't fit.

"Yukio's just a bit younger. My precious little snow angel. He- he's a bit sick I think," Yuri bit out between breaths, which sounded far too whistling for Shirou's taste. Perhaps he had given her more time than she really had. "Please take good care of them, Shirou. I- I know they'll be great."

He wanted to tell her that he couldn't. He wasn't there to take care of her children, he was supposed to get rid of them for good- and her too if she resisted.
She was defenseless now, it would be so easy to fulfill the mission and go back to being the exorcist he was supposed to be. Still, something was stopping him and he couldn't quite pinpoint what it was. The fact that he could tell that those children had human souls? The memories of a young Yuri running around his teenage self’s legs probably weren't helping either. He hadn't been good with the other children back then, still wasn't good with children, and yet she had wanted him to play with her. She'd always been such a weird person.

"She's dying," Mephisto spoke up again, pulling Shirou out of his thoughts. It wasn't like him to let his thoughts drift so much. Maybe he'd taken too many missions lately.

"You could go ahead with your mission now," Mephisto continued, a sly smile on his face just as if he already knew what Shirou was thinking. He probably did, that bastard.

"They have human souls," Shirou said, his grip on Kurikara tightening. "I can't kill them."

Mephisto nodded, though Shirou doubted the King of Time cared about moralities as such. "Well then, I suppose I could-"

"The remains of S13 are no place for them," Shirou immediately interrupted. "You made failed copies there, not humans."

Mephisto crouched down, poking the cheeks of the winged twin. "And where else should they go? They don't look human to anyone but you."

And even to him they didn't look that human, only felt human and that still made a difference to him.

"Then I'll take them," Shirou argued and turned to the twins again, who were peacefully sleeping, unaware of how much the world wanted them dead. "Like I said, I put up with you, this can't be harder."

Taking in a demon and an angel? He put up with homunculi, failed clones, successful clones, stupid researchers, a shitton of demons and Demon Kings on top. This couldn’t be any harder, Shirou was sure.

Carefully he too crouched down and reached for the child closer to him, Rin. He hesitated for a moment, afraid the flames would burn him, but then picked the baby up. The blue flames were warm, comfortingly so in the cold. Not at all like those horrors he had seen at the Blue Night. He adjusted his grip, fearing it was too tight and he'd wake Rin up, but the boy kept on sleeping.
Picking Yukio up turned out to be a bit tricky with just one free arm and Mephisto being as helpful as always: not at all. Eventually he managed though, the baby's wings folded together carefully. He had to admit, calm like this the twins were even adorable.

"Now look at this, already being the perfect father!" Mephisto announced, a gleeful smile on his face, far too wide with too many teeth.

It was then that the penny dropped.

"You tricked me," Shirou said, glaring at the demon.

"Guilty as charged!" Mephisto answered, still looking as stupid as before. "There's no way I would take them to S13, my dear siblings would end up knowing and I can't afford that, not with how tense everyone has been lately. I'm not parenting material anyway and I don't have the time to take care of them. But you? Yes, you have lots of time you're currently spending on unimportant stuff that you can put into raising those two. So, what you say? Still doing it?"

Shirou glared at the Demon King a bit longer before redirecting his gaze to the twins. "It's not like I have a choice, do I?"

"Not really, no," Mephisto answered.

"What are we doing with Yuri?" Shirou asked. He could tell that she was still there, but her presence was fading and soon would be gone.

"Leave it to me!"

Then Mephisto lifted his right hand, the movement already familiar.

"Öffnen!" He called, for once not sticking to his usual chant. Seemed like he wanted to make sure that this was secure. [Open!]
Above Yuri a portal opened, slowly coming down on her and taking her to one of Mephisto's many pocket dimension.

"Now that this is done, we're going somewhere warmer!"

Mephisto repeated his one word command and this time the portal took them away from the cold place that gave birth to something that, for now, Shirou considered his betrayal of humanity.

Chapter Text

Pianoforte

Soft, Loud

A small blessing was that even if twins were double the work, they were double the work at the same time. If Rin cried for food, Yukio was sure to follow within the exact time Shirou needed to warm up two bottles of milk. Thankfully the two ate human food, otherwise it could have become a bit problematic. Though Mephisto still had to figure out how to hide the twins’ extra appendages. As luxurious as the stay in Mephisto’s home in Germany was - and being officially incapable of fulfilling missions for three months was good for his nerves - Shirou wanted to go home. But with a Son of Satan and a Nephilim in tow, there was no way Shirou could go anywhere near True Cross.

Something patted at his leg and Shirou, who hadn’t been reading the book lying on his lap for at least twenty minutes, nearly jumped up. He stopped only in the last second when recognizing a small hand.

“Rin,” he sighed and went to pick the baby up. “Don’t scare me like this, you shrimp.”

Shirou walked over to the carpet lying in some distance, on which Yukio and Rin had been resting peacefully their nest of blankets. Key word being had been. On the baby blue blanket Yukio should be still lying on, was only one abandoned silver rattle.

“Yukio?” Shirou called for the younger twin. “Yukio, where are you?”

As far as Shirou knew, and what he knew came from the parenting books Mephisto had brought him, two months old babies shouldn’t be able to disappear from the surface of earth! Shirou wanted to put Rin down to focus on searching for Yukio, but decided against it. No use in finding one child only to lose the other again.

And so the hunt for Yukio began.

If somebody would ever ask him, yes, exorcising demons was easier. Shirou searched beneath the sofa and every cabinet this house had, which were a lot, mind you. Ten minutes passed, Shirou threw over a vase, twenty minutes passed, the chair fell over, thirty minutes, his study was a mess- after one hour Shirou was close to having an actual panic attack. He couldn’t find Yukio and by now even Rin grew impatient and fussed. It was the longest the twins had been apart from each other - and he had been apart from one of them since he took them in. As Rin started to cry, Shirou decided to finally call Mephisto. The demon had put some kind of magical demon tracker on each twin some days after Shirou had taken them in. Mephisto would surely be able to find Yukio.

He walked into the kitchen where he kept the house phone. The only number it reached was Mephisto’s and the demon had promised to come the second Shirou asked for his presence. That alone said a lot about Mephisto, who only reluctantly made promises.

As soon as Shirou arrived in the kitchen, he reached for the phone only to be startled by a “daaah” coming from the upper kitchen cabinet. That didn’t sound like one of the demons Mephisto had working here. Carefully Shirou opened the cabinet only to be greeted with a sight that nearly made him drop Rin.

Yukio was peacefully sleeping between plates and cups, his white wings covering him like a blanket.

Slowly the baby opened his blue eyes, then rubbed them with his hands and yawned, being the usual utterly adorable child.

“How did you even get up here?” Shirou despaired.

But Yukio only laughed.

Then he rolled out of the cabinet, going into free fall.

Just the moment before Shirou caught him though, his white wings opened. Was that how he had gotten up there? He was sure that Yukio wasn't supposed to be flying yet, for God's sake he could barely crawl!
And the baby, as oblivious as the small thing was, started to giggle, dragging his older brother into his joy.
Somehow Shirou didn't think he'd die as cannon fodder in battle, this two surely would give him a heart attack before that could happen.

But the knowledge that Yukio could probably fly, saved him from panicking the next time Yukio disappeared. Though flying/ was exaggerating it, Yukio could only hold himself up long enough to reach the kitchen cabinet. While angels - or half ones - weren't exactly birds, Shirou still thought of himself as smart as he read up on them. One phone call with Mephisto later, Shirou had a cat tree standing in the living room. The top surface he had replaced with a spacious basket and now Yukio could disappear up there instead of in the kitchen cabinet. And since Rin didn't want to leave his little brother, he attempted to climb up the cat tree. Sadly he wasn't strong enough for that yet and failed miserable. He demanded from Shirou to be put up there - crying loudly with red cheeks and tears running over them.

Mephisto, of course, thought of it as utterly amusing. The twins barfing on him served him right for insulting Shirou’s state of sleep deprivation. Otherwise though the demon proved to be at least somewhat useful as he managed to come up with two different seals, one for each twin, in a manner of weeks, instead of the full three months and maybe more he thought he'd need.

“So what's your genius solution?” Shirou asked as he watched Mephisto put his things together.

“It's pretty simple actually. For Rin, Kurikara will be enough to keep up human appearance, though I scratched the idea of tampering with his demon heart too, since I'm not exactly sure how it will develop with him being only half demon,” Mephisto elaborated and reached for Kurikara, inspecting the blade one last time.

“And Yukio?”

Mephisto put the blade back on the table and turned to Shirou, grinning far too wide. To say Shirou was mildly uncomfortable would be lying.

That was the tricky part! You see, angels are a lot like demons, they also have a heart like we do!” Mephisto gleefully explained and pulled a key out of his pants’ pocket. He used the key on a drawer, revealing a beautiful little dagger. It didn't look particularly useful but then again, one can never know with Mephisto’s artifacts.

“This dagger cost me so much,” Mephisto sighed. “But well, at least not as much as it cost Lucifer.”

At this Shirou gifted the demon with skepticism, expressed in one simple glance.

“Back when most of us Demon Kings got our first bodies here in Assiah, God’s little henchmen still were a little more active than they are now. You’ve read the Book of Revelation?”

“You’re aware that I’m the Paladin?” Shirou shot back the next second.

“A simple yes would have worked as well,” Mephisto said but continued regardless. “Anyway, the part where Michael kills Satan with his lance isn’t portrayed entirely off. Except he only kicked Lucifer out of his body back into Gehenna. The lance though stayed here in Assiah because nothing holy that has been touched by Assiah can go back to Heaven.”

Shirou nodded and looked at the dagger in Mephisto’s hands. “That doesn’t look like a lance.”

“Its last owner willed it into a dagger. Stabbed me with it too, that was such a hassle…” Mephisto trailed off, wallowing in reminiscence.

“Anyway, point is: This is a holy weapon and should be well suited for sealing Yukio’s powers!”

Chapter Text

Kutoa

to remove, to add

Fact was that the twins couldn’t deal with the sudden lack of powers and appendages even months after they had lost them. By now both of them were trying to learn to walk and according to Mephisto and his familiars, who watched over the twins when Shirou was working, Rin and Yukio both were doing great.

Shirou wasn’t seeing it. Not at all.

Yukio kept trying to sort of jump while walking, aiming for heights he couldn’t reach anymore and ended up falling face flat to the ground. And with Rin, Shirou didn’t even know where to start. Even crawling seemed to be a hard task for the toddler, whose entire balance apparently had depended on his tail. As similar as Yukio was to a bird in some aspects, as similar related was Rin to a cat.

A soft thud announced that one of the twins had fallen over again and the crying that followed told Shirou it was Yukio. He put his coffee cup on the kitchen table and rushed to his youngest child. The boy was bawling loudly and Rin, who was just a few feet away, was already on the verge of tears.

“No pai’,” Rin cried out. “Yui no pai’!”

What happened next, Shirou wasn’t quite sure off. One moment both twins were crying, the next something blue flashed and Yukio’s shirt ripped open and the light shining above Yukio’s head announced the return of the toddler’s halo.

The seal had broken.

How?!

“Yui no pai’!” Rin cheered then as Yukio appeared just as confused as Shirou.

“Did you do that?” Shirou asked the older twin, well aware that Rin probably couldn’t understand him. At least that was what Shirou was guessing at the moment. Since the twins’ development wasn’t exactly like your average human baby’s, Shirou had quite the hard time to determine how far their physical and psychological development was. But all of that didn’t matter as Mephisto’s amazingly super strong and definitely unbreakable seal just broke.

Yukio though didn’t seem to care as he was happy to have his powers back and easily escaped Shirou’s grip. Rin reached for Yukio’s wings, carefully touching the white feathers.

“No pai’,” he mumbled and nodded, definitely imitating Mephisto there.

Shirou had no idea what normal babies were like, never mind nephilim and half demons. How did you teach children to be human? As long as Shirou didn’t get a grip on the twins’ human halves, they couldn’t live a life that was at least somewhat normal. He, once again, needed help.

“Time to call your older brother again,” Shirou said as the twins giggled and soon after a white light emerged from Rin whose tail was now swinging from side to side.

The babies probably thought Shirou’s frustration was funny.

Mephisto, to the Paladin’s amusement, was just as shocked as Shirou had been that his great seal hadn’t worked for long. Still, the demon went about resealing both twins rather quickly and even sat down to properly explain the whole situation. Seemed like the twins, if their willpower was strong enough, could cancel each other’s seals out. Angels and demons were meant to expose and fight each other after all, it did them no well to hide their opponents.
Watching Rin and Yukio sleep together, all cuddled up, Shirou had a hard time believing they would fight each other to death any time soon. The reason Rin had opened his brother’s seal was because Yukio felt better with his powers released and vice versa. Now the man could only hope that the twins would stick to their human appearances and wouldn’t have to be sealed again.

Sadly Lady Luck wasn’t on Shirou’s side as the twins grew older and they still hadn’t left Mephisto’s property in Germany because of their extra powers and appendages.

"Sealing their powers doesn't work," was the conclusion Shiro finally reached the moment the twins turned three. He sighed as he reached for the top shelf, trying to get Yukio down. The boy could speak properly, couldn’t he just ask for sweets instead of fetching them himself?

"They keep unsealing them just by being in each other's presence nowadays."

He set Yukio on the ground, just next to Rin, who was moving three cars around with his hands and tail.

"So we have to find another solution," Shiro continued and poured some holy water over the blue burning toy house Rin's fire truck was supposed to safe.

“At least they are cute like this,” Mephisto commented, biting into an apple while he let his legs dangle. Shirou rolled his eyes.

“I’m serious, Samael.”

Mephisto’s smile turned razor sharp. “The things I have to endure in my own home.”

Shirou turned around. Yukio’s cat tree was standing in the corner, Rin’s cat basket standing just beneath it, the twins’ toys were all over the living room anyway, their drawings pinned to the walls. Various framed photos were standing on shelves and dressers and Shirou’s dirty and somewhat bloody clothes hang over the pink armchair. Never mind that this was just the living room.

“Your home,” Shirou just replied dryly. Mephisto was well aware that the twins had claimed it for themselves and Shirou had made himself at home there too. He only ever went to his own apartment for his weapons, though a huge stash of them, at least enough for a small army, were hidden here too now. They wouldn’t be moving out any time soon.

“Soll ich dann dir Deutsch beibringen?” Mephisto asked amused. [Shall I teach you German then?]

“Nein, danke. Asylum’s German lessons were enough.” [No thanks.]

Chapter Text

Eins!

Twins age 2 months: Familiars

Shirou stared at the purple demon in his kitchen, then at Mephisto sitting at the table eating breakfast, the demon again, Mephisto, the demon, Mephisto again.

It was too damn early for this.

“Why’s Ukoba’ ‘ere?” Shirou asked, fatigue making him slur his words.

“To help you, of course! Taking in children without much experience in actually handling children, I thought you could need some help. Never mind that we have to get you ready for going back to work again. This household should be able to run itself. Now then, Ukobach here will help you cook.”

Shirou refrained from saying that cooking really was the least of his worries. Fixing a sandwich for himself wasn’t the problem. But well, he knew Ukobach’s cooking was great and his coffee to die for. Shirou wasn’t going to complain.

“And I have to more wonderful ladies to help you out.”

Ladies? That already sounded better. If he’d have the time for them though…!

“Eins, zwei, drei!” Mephisto said and a cloud of pink smoke appeared.

Shirou coughed until the smoke cleared, revealing two women with blue skin, appearing translucent, just like water-

Corycia, Melaina,” Shirou whispered and the Naiads smiled at him.

“They’re willing to help you should you need some daytime babysitters. I assume you know how to summon them?”

“Yuri let them drench me often enough. Trust me, I know their circles.”

Zwei!

Twins age 3 months: Boredom
Look, Light! Mephisto being ridiculous

“Shirou, I’m bored!” Mephisto declared.

“Go play with the twins,” the man called back as he wrote his reports. Going back to work was horrible after 3 months of taking care of half human twins and worrying about them whenever they weren't in his immediate line of sight.

“What do I play with them? They're so small and uncivilized. They drool!”

Yes, of course Mephisto would call them uncivilized. What had Shirou expected? That the demon knew how to properly deal with children? What had convinced Shirou to leave the children in Mephisto’s guaranteed care when he was at work again? Right. The man’s familiars.

Sighing he got up. There was no use in trying to work when he had three children to entertain.

Drei!

Twins age 4 months: Marriage
Dedicated to Iheartlife888 because your comment made me laugh.

Being the Paladin had been much cooler when he had no strings attached. He traveled a lot and saw all kind of places. Being stuck in the Caribbean though when knowing that your four month old kids were at home sucked.

“Uh- Fujimoto-san?”

Shirou turned around to the exorcist accompanying him. “Yes, Ashido?”

“We were uhm- eh- we know it’s against regulations-”

“If it’s about me usually smoking, I quit four months ago so don’t worry,” Shirou interrupted the man. There was a strict smoking ban for this mission since they were dealing with kin of Ilbis and Shirou was well aware that he had a reputation for getting pissed when he couldn’t smoke on missions. He was a little sorry for the times he had snapped at his squad. Ashido didn’t seem to relax at all though.

“Ah- that’s nice but-”

“God, Ashido,” another interrupted. A woman with light green hair and brown skin stepped close to them. “Yu a wimp.”

“I’m sorry, Campbell! But this is such a delicate subject!” Ashido spoke up again.

“Can somebody just explain what’s going on so we can get this mission done?” Shirou asked, having had enough. He wanted to go home to Yukio and Rin and be done with work.

“Congrats on yu marriage,” Campbell said and slapped him on the back. “We discuss it, ‘cuz yu know it weird but fuck it. Mi mom didn’t care ‘bout demons and look at mi. I ain’t no hypocrite.”

And with that the woman left to instruct the rest of the squad.

“What marriage?” Shirou wondered and turned to Ashido again who appeared just as confused as Shirou.

“Uhm, yours…? To Pheles?”

Seconds passed.

“WHAT!?”

Vier!

Twins age 6 months: First word

“Come, Yukio, say Daddy, can you do that for me?”

The child stared at Shirou, face pulled into a frown as if he were thinking about it.

“Daddy,” Shirou repeated and pointed at himself. “I know you can do it, Yukio.”

The twins had been babbling for a while now, Yukio even more so than Rin, and Shirou was determined to be the one to hear the twins’ first word. No way he'd miss that.

“Please, just for me? Say Daddy!”

Yukio opened his mouth, hopefully to say the much awaited words, but before he could say anything, something crashed.

“Ri!” Yukio shouted the same time Shirou called for his elder son.

Rin had thrown over a chair. The boy’s strength, which could use some more controlling, was a real miracle. Thankfully Rin hadn’t hurt himself but just laughed.

“Ri!” Yukio called again.

“Yui!” Rin appeared to answer and the exchange went back and forth a few times.

Well, Shirou guessed that he had witnessed the twins’ first words - even if it wasn't Daddy. He cracked a smile and picked the babies up.

Fünf!

Twins age 6 months: Father
You know this is for you my precious dutch friend!

The way Mephisto was smiling at him told Shirou something had happened. Something that, most likely, would be embarrassing for him.

Oh, well. Let’s get over with it. He was too tired to deal with this.

“Just show me,” Shirou sighed after he had taken off his shoes and jacket. Why was it that he could never come home to peace?

Mephisto gleefully lead him to the living room where Rin and Yukio were still up and playing with their bricks. It was way past their bedtime. They should have been sleeping hours ago!

As soon as the two spotted him, they smiled widely.

“Papa!” They shouted cheerfully and crawled over to him.

Shirou was sure his smile mirrored the boys’. “So that’s what you’ve stayed up for?”

Giggling followed. Shirou took it as a yes.

Sechs!

Twins age 2 years: Cat tree

For the twins second birthday they had gotten a new cat tree. One that was even higher with lots of platforms and baskets to climb or fly into.

Rin and Yukio were adorable as they explored which way would get them to the top the fastest and the easiest way.

Shirou put down the camera. The two toddlers would have the best childhood photos.

Sieben!

Twins age 6: Missions
Rayne this one’s for you!

“Don’t go!” Yukio and Rin cried unison, both clinging to one leg.

“I have to. It’s a very important mission,” Shirou said and picked up his jacket from the wardrobe.

“Can’t somebody else go?” Yukio asked. “You’ve been on sooo many missions!”

“Yeah!” Rin supported his twin. “It’s not fair.”

“Well, it’s because I’m the very best for the job. If somebody else goes, they could get injured because they’re not as strong as I am. and if I wait any longer, innocent people could be hurt.”

Still the twins didn’t let go of his legs.

“I promise you that when I come back, I’ll binge watch the entire first season of Pokémon with you,” Shirou promised. He knew using blackmail on children wasn’t fair but he had to make do.

His promise seemed to do the trick as Rin and Yukio let go of him. “Right the moment you’re back?”

“Yes, promised.”

The twins shared a glance before nodding. “Okay! But hurry!”

They hugged him one last time before running off to Ukobach and the Naiads to prepare the most awesome day ever.

Chapter Text

Custom

Normal, special

Something Shirou hadn’t been prepared for were the less human behaviors Yukio and Rin adopted as they grew. Sure, the obvious ones like Yukio’s preference to be up high or Rin’s agility he had counted for. It was the more subtle, ridiculous and out of ordinary behavior Shirou hadn’t expected.

Rin discovering his territorial side had been a nightmare. He drew lines everywhere, even on Yukio and Shirou, marking them as part of his territory and kin. It had taken ages to get rid of the red crayon lines on the furniture and the walls. Never mind that at the same time Yukio just had to figure out what a Guardian Ange was. He had become extraordinary protective and clingy. Cleaning for example wasn’t fun regularly and not any better with a four year old holding onto your leg as if his life depended on it. As a consequence of the twins’ extraordinary behavior, Shirou had become a great deal more observant as to not miss anything going on with the twins.

That was precisely the reason Shirou was watching Yukio like a hawk every time they were outside in the garden nowadays. Lately Yukio appeared to be distracted while playing outside and often even complained about headaches bad enough to make him tired for the rest of the day. Since consulting Mephisto also didn’t give Shirou any answers - honestly what was the Demon King even good for? – Shirou settled on simply watching the four year old.

Yukio and Rin were playing catch, running around the trees with never ending stamina. Their carefree laughter and giggling were like music to Shirou’s ears, especially as long as nothing was breaking. It had taken the twins ages to learn how to control their strengths. Broken plates and furniture everywhere! Thank god that was mostly over now.

It was a sudden shriek of pain that pulled Shirou out of his thoughts. Battle reflexes kicked in and Shirou immediately reached for guns he wasn’t carrying. He was frozen for another second before reminding himself that everything was alright and that there were no demons to exterminate.

Shirou quickly got up from his chair and made his way over to the twins. Yukio was sitting in on the ground, pressing his hands on his ears, sobbing while Rin patted his brother on his back, trying to get Yukio to stop.

“Hey, little man, what’s wrong?” Shirou asked as he scooped Yukio up.

“Es ist zu laut,” Yukio said and buried his face into Shirou’s neck. [It’s too loud.]

“Nobody’s being loud, Yukio.”

“Not you or Nii-san just everything else!”

Then Yukio’s sobs grew louder and he began to cry. Shirou helplessly shared a glance with Rin, who appeared to be just as confused as Shirou as to what was causing Yukio so much pain.

“Come on, Yukio. We’re going inside, everything will be alright,” Shirou said, trying to calm the boy down. It seemed to help at least a bit and so Shirou continued carefully talking to Yukio until they were back inside the house and settled down on the sofa in the living room.

“Besser?” Rin asked. Yukio nodded, wiping his snot off at his sleeve. [Better?]

“Nothing can talk in here,” Yukio said with visible relieve.

“What is talking outside? I hear nothing! Besides Ukobach or some of the Dekalp…” Rin tilted his head. “And if they mess with you I’ll tell them! Nobody is allowed to hurt you or dad! And if they try they can’t live here anymore!”

While he held his little speech, Rin stood up, his pose resembling the one a hero in his favorite TV show always used. At this Yukio already smiled again.

“Are it the demons though, Yukio?” Shirou decided to interrupt again. As far as he knew demons weren’t exactly comfortable around Yukio unless they got to know him and vice versa but otherwise there had never been problems with demons before. Mephisto’s familiars were rather fond of Yukio actually… Not to forget that most of the demons here were harmless and helpful and according to Rin, they actually liked the twins and would probably do everything Rin asked from them.

“No,” Yukio answered. “It’s- the flowers and the grass and the trees and the birds and the bees!”

“So, everything that is alive?” Shirou asked again, slowly gaining an understanding. Yukio’s nodding confirmed it.

Shirou had been aware that Yukio was sensitive to emotions but to think that his empathy could reach out even to the most basic forms of life. Then again, it wasn’t as if the twins’ strengths weren’t growing the older they got. Now Shirou just needed to be able to keep up.

“We will figure something out. I promise.”

Chapter Text

to overlook

to inspect, to fail to notice

Shirou woke up with the realization that he was a father and was responsible for two innocent lives. That this realization hit him perhaps a bit late one summer morning as the twins woke him up by jumping on him, should perhaps embarrass him but Shirou couldn't help it. He had only ever taken and sometimes maybe saved a life. He had never taken care of two living, breathing, human beings. Seeing the bodies of the children a demon had killed on his last mission had probably gotten more to him than Shirou thought it would.

But the twins didn't particularly care about the worries brewing in their father's mind as they dragged him out of bed with their super human strengths. Rin held Shirou's right hand while Yukio held his left, pulling the man towards the kitchen with only one stop at the bathroom to get Yukio's brushes. As soon as they arrived in the big kitchen, Rin walked over to the fridge.

"I'm making breakfast!" The boy declared and started to get to work. Ever since Mephisto had tried his hand at cooking for the children a few weeks ago because Shirou was out and Ukobach sick or something, Rin was set on learning how to cook for himself. Shirou wasn't exactly sure what Mephisto had tried to cook, the twins refused to talk further about the so called monster. Shirou watched as the six year old began to work. It probably wasn't exactly responsible to let a child that young to handle all kinds of kitchen utensils but Rin was doing fine as far as Shirou could tell so he left him.

"Papa!" Yukio demanded Shirou's attention, holding one brush up.

"Already?" Shirou asked the pouting child. "Shouldn't we wait until you're dressed properly or do it in the afternoon after you and Rin messed around in the dirt?"
Yukio's staring told him enough. The boy took off his shirt before walking to his brother. One high five later, a pair of beautiful white wings sprung from Yukio's back.

"Your wings are bigger than you," Shirou said as he started to carefully groom Yukio's wings. "Your wingspan is at least three meters."

"And they'll only get bigger!"

Shirou nodded. "If your wings keep growing like this, we won't be able to do this inside anymore."

At this both twins gasped, as if the idea was extremely extraordinary. "Really!?"

"Really. I think you could easily reach a wingspan of six meters!"

Yukio turned his head to his father to look at him with big blue eyes, wonder shining brightly in them as if he couldn't quite believe it. Then the boy slowly nodded, understanding flashing in his eyes. It still surprised Shirou how fast and easy Yukio understood certain things, almost as if he was just refreshing knowledge already gained before.

"I'll need a bigger cat tree then," Yukio said.

Shirou laughed loudly and ruffled through Yukio's hair.

"I don't think that a cat tree that big exists, kiddo. The one we have right now" – The fourth one in total – "is already very big and getting too small for you. When summer is over, we should throw it out. It's just taking up space…"

"Nein!" Yukio immediately protested. "It's great! I don't want to throw it out!" [No!]

"I'm sure we can find a better solution."

Shirou stared out of the window, his eyes lingering on the huge apple tree standing outside. Suddenly he had an idea.

"How about we built a tree house for you instead?"

"A tree house?" Rin spoke up, putting the last of his cooking on the table. "Yes! Bitte, bitte, Yukio! Das ist viel besser!" [Please, please, Yukio! That's way better!]

Yukio frowned and crossed his arms, probably deciding if it would be a fair trade. Shirou smiled. His son was just too cute.

"Okay, I want a tree house but it has to be at least four meters high!" Yukio finally decided. Replacing his much loved cat tree with something mediocre was out of question after all. Besides, it certainly would be awesome to start there above the ground and fly high up into the clouds. Shirou never let Yukio go higher than the house's roof anyway, deeming it too dangerous.

"Wir kriegen ein Baumhaus! Wir kriegen ein Baumhaus!" Rin cheered and promptly dropped the ceramic plate, which shattered into a thousand pieces. Rin smiled sheepishly. [We're getting a tree house!]

"Ah- breakfast is ready?"

Chapter Text

 

کل (kal)

yesterday, tomorrow

 

All children love and want pets - that was a fact universally acknowledged. Half demons and nephilim weren’t any different in that aspect. If said new pet happened to be a size shifting Cat Sídhe then it was even better than a regular cat. For one because it could definitely protect the children should danger ever come near them, and on top of that it provided even more entertainment than a regular cat, which meant Shirou had a lot more time for his reports and arranging their move. After ten years Shirou had decided that it was safe for them to move to Japan again. Yukio and Rin could control their powers and knew better than to just shift to their regular appearance. Of course, it would take a lot of preparing and lying to the Vatican still, but Shirou was sure that it would be worth it. He missed his home country and he had heard and spoken enough German for two life times.

“Papa! We’re going outside with Kuro!” Rin shouted, already past the front door, quickly followed by Yukio and Kuro. Somehow, even though Kuro and Yukio were running faster than Rin to still catch up with him and shouted after him to slow down, Rin still managed to be the loudest. Sneaking around would never be Rin’s greatest skill. For that Shirou was immensely thankful. God knows what kind of troubles Rin would get in if he wouldn’t be caught so easily. Yukio though was pretty good at being silent, enjoyed it even. He could spend the whole day saying nothing, just reading and thinking and be happy. He’d definitely have a harder time adjusting to True Cross, which was full of people and constantly loud – not at all like the peaceful tracts of land the twins had never left before.

Worry began to bite at Shirou again. The twins had never left the property before and the amount of actual people/intelligent beings they had interacted with could be counted on two hands with still some fingers left over. As much as Shirou wanted to go back home, perhaps it was still too early for them? They could be so easily overwhelmed and lash out in fear…

Or maybe Rin and Yukio were already too old? They had grown used to their home here, maybe they would end up rejecting everything new!

If their seals hadn’t caused so many troubles, they certainly would have left for Japan earlier already. But they hadn’t and faster than Shirou could have noticed, a decade had passed and suddenly he didn’t know if he was still able to introduce the twins to the world. The world certainly never would be ready for them, Assiah was dominated by a race of ignorant. But Shirou had hoped, still did in fact, that at least he could raise his children to be ready to face the world.

Shirou sighed and got away from his desk, his fingers twitching for a smoke, something to keep them busy. He walked over to the window, to watch Yukio and Rin play. They had engaged in a game that seemed to be a mix of catch, hide and capture the flag with Kuro as some sort of third player with no particular role. It took the trio another ten minutes before they noticed Shirou watching them. When they did though, Yukio and Rin directly waved their father from where they were sitting on Kuro’s back. Then the two boys turned to each other again, discussing something, before shouting something in Shirou’s direction. But only gibberish reached Shirou’s ears. A few years ago he easily could have understood them, his age was catching up to him. He opened the window just in time for the twins’ second shouting attempt.

“PAPA!”

“I can hear you just fine now!” Shirou interrupted them before his ear fell off. “And if you come closer you won’t have to shout at all.”

Kuro leaped forward, one, two, three- five times and stood still right below the window.

“Now, what did you want to tell me?”

“Rin said that Kuro said he was a shrine deity and that there are lots of shrines in Japan! Can we visit them?” Yukio asked, all excited and hyped at the prospect at visiting the Cat Sídhe’s home.

“And go to festivals? And eat Sukiyaki at a restaurant? I wanna taste real Sukiyaki!” Rin added.

“So the Sukiyaki I make isn’t good enough for you?” Shirou teased Rin.

“It’s good but restaurant food is supposed to be better! I also want to see cherry blossoms! And learn even more Japanese receipts!”

Then Yukio and Rin shared a glance, both smiling widely. “And we want to see Kyoto!”

Seeing them like this, Shirou thought that maybe he had worried too much. It seemed like the twins were ready to finally leave this place, even if their current dreams sounded only a bit like snatched out of a tourist advertisement.

“Of course we can do all that,” Shirou said and the two boys cheered.

And for everything else they’d need help with, they would have him at their sides.

Chapter Text

Huésped

Guest, Host

"Oi, Shirou, where the hell have you been the past years?!"

If there was one person Shura had ever really loved, it was her mentor Shirou. The man had brought her into the world. He had taught her, raised her; he was family.

And then he vanished from her life – more or less.

Shirou was still around, taking missions and sometimes even training her, but he didn't spend nearly as much time with her as he used to. If she was lucky, she saw him once or twice in three months but even those times got less and less.

For the longest time she had blamed Yuri Egin for Shirou's distance.

When she was younger, Yuri had been somewhat of a rival for Shirou's attention though Shura couldn't claim to know the exact nature of Shirou and Yuri's relationship.

Despite their rivalry though, Yuri had also always been a role model to her. She had been strong, beautiful and possessed an attitude that just dared you to try going against her. Whenever Shirou had possessed no time for her or honest to god couldn't handle her, Yuri had taken her out for a fun day or some training. Yuri had bought her most of her clothes and sneaked her out of the nun-run orphanage when their endless behavior lessons had cost Shura every nerve. Yuri had been her childish self's rival and big sister. Even if she'd never say it out loud, she had loved Yuri a lot.

Somehow it was still Yuri that took Shirou away.

Shura knew that Yuri's child lived – and that Shirou was taking care of it. That was the exact reason Shirou had left her behind, he was raising Satan's spawn.

But Shura wasn't a child anymore, she had grown up. That was precisely the reason she would save Shirou from himself before he crashed and burned.

But in reality Shura hadn't known what to expect and with tension running through her, she had been ill prepared to meet up with her old mentor.

That was perhaps the reason a small brat was able to knock her over, blue flames rising in her vision.

"Rin!" "Nii-san!"

Shura was lying on the ground with the demon spawn above her, sharp nails digging into her neck. The kid looked feral. Certainly this couldn't be what Shirou devoted his life to? Raising such a monster, it was beneath him…

Before Shura could do anything though, the beast was pulled off her. Not by Shirou though, but by the other brat with- were those wings?

"Nii-san," the other kid said again and Shura's confusion took new height. "Rin, beruhig dich. Alles ist in Ordnung. Wir sind in Sicherheit." [Rin, calm down. Everything is alright. We are safe.]

While talking, the boy's piercing blue never left her and, Shura felt as if someone was looking into her soul, searching for a fault he could sentence her for. But then the weird brat turned his gaze to the demon again. The demon brat had calmed down and the feral, almost hunted look in his face, disappeared and was replaced by fright.

"Oh, Gott- Ich- I'm sorry!" The beast cried and ran over to Shirou, appearing like a wimpy little baby. Shura wondered if that was how Satan's spawn had escaped death. [Oh, God- I-]

"It's alright," Shirou told the sobbing demon. "I should have waited with bringing you two here. Yukio, you and Rin go upstairs. I'll talk to Shura."

The two demons quickly disappeared upstairs, leaving Shura and Shirou behind.

"What the hell was that, Shirou?" Shura bit out as soon the brats were gone. She'd known Shirou must have been crazy taking in the demon brat, who was apparently not just one child but two, but leaving them feral and unpredictable as demons were? How could he be so stupid?!

"You startled him," Shirou answered. "The twins just arrived here. They haven't even left the room before you barged in here. Of course Rin would react like that upon a stranger entering his new home. He thought you were out to attack Yukio or me."

"Satan's spawn is a possessive one, who would have guessed!"

At this Shirou dared to chuckle as if it wasn't a serious situation, as if Shura couldn't have just been fried to death.

"Ah, Rin really is the more possessive one, Yukio's more protective but in the end it's rather hard to differentiate that anyway. It causes Rin to have a few problems with handling new places and Yukio to have a problem with unfamiliar people. They're good children though."

"That brat was out and about to kill me. A few problems is underestimating it!" Shura raised her voice.

Shirou stared at her for what felt like ages.

"But were you any different?"

 

Chapter Text

 

In which Rin doesn't want to go to  school

By the time the twins were six, they all still hadn't moved back to Japan, which unfortunately forced Shirou to accept Mephisto's offer of a refresh course in German. It brought back unpleasant memories of the time spent surviving in Asylum. Never ever would Shirou refer to that stage of life as actually living. He had barely known the pleasures of the outside world then and all his life had been about was demons this and demons that.

Not that it was much different now. His life still surrounded around demons – except his was six year old and far more terrifying than any other demon Shirou had ever encountered. Especially if the twins were fighting with each other and used their powers.

"Hör auf, Rin!" Yukio shouted as Rin, once again, unsealed Yukio's powers. [Stop it, Rin!]

"Wieso sollte ich? Es ist doch besser so!" Rin shot back, sounding even angrier than his sibling. [Why should I? It's better this way!]

Ever since Shirou had signed the two up for a small village's school, Rin had been acting out of line. Instead of being as excited as Yukio at the prospect of going to school, Rin became more and more aggressive. If Shirou wasn't imagining things, Rin even seemed to show off and even act on his demon half more than before. But all his musings didn't matter as Rin cursed furiously in German, something Shirou entirely blamed on Mephisto entirely as Shirou didn't speak more German than he had to and only ever swore in Japanese. Then Rin threw himself on his brother.

Quickly Shirou reached between the two, pulling them apart before they hurt each other with their super human strength.

"Hey, you two, what do you think you're doing?" He asked them.

"It's not my fault, Papa!" Yukio said, crossing his arms. "Nii-san's behaving weirdly!"

"I'm not!"

"You are!"

"No!"

"Yes!"

"Boys!" Shirou interrupted. "What did I tell you about fighting each other?"

"Not to…" The twins muttered, intentionally looking away from each other.

Despite that they didn't look all that similar to each other as fraternal twins, they often carried the same expressions, just like now.

"Then why are you?" Shirou picked up the conversation again.

"Because Rin's acting like an idiot!"

"I'm not!" The older twin immediately explained himself. "I just don't-"

And then there was silence. Instead of continuing his sentence, Rin shut up. He was biting on his lips and had curled his hands to fists. Shirou would be quite the lousy parent if he couldn't tell what hid behind those gestures.

"What's really the problem, Rin?" He carefully asked his son.

"I don't- I don't want to go to school and I don't want Yukio to go! School is stupid! And we have to hide our powers there! I hate it, I don't want it! Ich will hier bleiben, wo's sicher ist!" Rin exclaimed, his courage falling apart with each word he spoke until he was sobbing. [I want to stay here where it's safe!]

Rin's outburst actually explained the situation better than expected. Often Shirou had to think around five corners to understand where the boy was coming from.

"You can't stay here forever, Rin," Shirou gently told Rin while pulling the boy into a hug.

"Why not? This place is mine. I don't want another!"

"Because the world has a lot of beautiful things to see. I know it's big and scary and hiding your powers is terrible, but it'll all be worth it. You can make a lot of friends in school and Yukio really wants to go. So can you try at least? For me and for him?"

For a moment Rin was silent, then he nodded and a whispered "okay" left his mouth.

"That's my boy! Now, can you apologize to Yukio too?"

"Sorry, Yukio," Rin muttered.

"Schon gut," Yukio replied and too hugged his brother. [It's fine.]

The next months until the start of school were as calm as they could be in such an active household. Rin had a few more outbursts but in the end he coped with the situation. Mephisto suspected that Rin's behavior could be traced back to a demon's instinctual territorial behavior. Without it demons wouldn't be able to keep their bodies or territories. Though Rin certainly wasn't the only one showing such behavior. Yukio often acted quite as possessive and on top of it showed some know-it-all behavior. According to Mephisto that too was part of Yukio's angel package. Angels all apparently had a "superiority complex" and were "bloodthirsty fighters" at heart.

Perhaps, as soon as the twins got a little more used to staying and being human for a longer time, Shirou could move back to Japan with them.

 

Chapter Text

Adumbrate

to clarify, to cast a shadow over

Rin and Yukio stared at their surroundings, blue eyes wide and hands shaking with fear. They shared a nervous glance before turning to Shirou.

"Do we really have to go?" They asked.

Shirou nodded and gave both of them an encouraging pat on the back. "You're big boys already, aren't you? And I know this is a lot of new space and there are so many people, but you two will be fine, I promise. I'll make sure nothing harms you. And if it's too much, we will go back home."

"To Germany?" Yukio asked, sounding a bit hopeful.

"No, back to the house we're staying in now."

"But it's not safe there! That crazy lady could come in without any problems!"

Shirou laughed lightly. Shura certainly had made an impression on Rin. "She could because I trust her. Shura was just a bit confused – like you were. Now come, let's go."

One twin on each hand, Shirou slowly left the church he'd started to help out at. For all the excitement both boys used to have for moving to Japan, they now appeared rather intimidated. Shura's first impression of a new person probably hadn't helped either. Going outside of their new home or the church was always a little fight. Yukio and Rin both were overwhelmed with the new place and all the impressions that came with it. Yukio had taken to wearing as much clothes as possible, his thinning mental shields failing at keeping his empathy from reaching out when he was around so many people. Shirou would have to go out and buy new headache pills soon, Yukio was running out of them again.

Rin was slightly easier to deal with as he didn't need any medication, just a lot of physical contact. Not once before had Shirou seen Rin behave so clingy. If they weren't at home, Rin was constantly holding onto Yukio or Shirou, needing the familiarity as if it were his lifeline. Being taken out of familiar territory really shook the boy more than Shirou had anticipated.

"Papa?"

"Yes, Rin?"

"Who does this place belong to? And can't they tell the people to stop thinking so loud?" At his second question, Rin looked at his brother, worry all over his face.

"This place doesn't really belong to anyone, not like the property back home belonged to you and Mephisto," Shirou began to explain but Rin only showed incomprehension.

"How can something not belong to somebody? You're mine and I protect you. That's how it has to work!"

Shirou really, really wished somebody had written a book on how to explain the concept of freedom in its purest form to a demon child with build in territorial behavior. But since nobody had written a book like that, Shirou had to make do.

"You want to have things so you can protect them, right?"

At this Rin nodded, unconsciously tightening his hold on Shirou's hand.

"Well, that's because you have a big heart. Many humans though prefer not being kept on such a tight leash though and want to watch out for themselves. You can still protect them, but they don't want to be considered yours. And since this town here is for everyone, it also doesn't belong to only one person."

Seeing that Rin wasn't going to let this go, Shirou decided to change the subject quickly instead of keeping up the conversation. At home they could perhaps continue it, but not here on the street where the subject might upset Rin. His sons were already feeling bad enough, he didn't want to put more weight on their shoulders.

"Have I told you about True Cross' underground part?" Shirou asked the twins instead, hoping to distract them.

It worked as Rin and Yukio shook their heads. "No."

"Well, then listen closely. A long time ago this was just a mountain and since war was everywhere, the people living here decided to build their city inside the mountain instead of on the outside. That way they hoped their home would be easier to defend. So right below our feet, there are whole buildings hidden away."

The twins stared at the ground in awe, already forgetting their surroundings. Yukio's expression relaxed, Rin loosed his tight grip on Shirou's hand.

"Because of this incredible idea, the people of this mountain could live in peace and so their number grew until the mountain couldn't contain all of them all. As the battles lessened, the people decided that it was alright to start building at the surface. The longer they stayed outside, the more did they fell in love with the sunlight, the sky, nature, all the things they couldn't have in the mountain. More and more people abandoned their homes in the mountain in favor of living on the surface so that in the end, nobody lived inside the mountain anymore. The city on the outside though had grown so big and beautiful, that more and more people came to it to live there who didn't care about the city's underground so that even the people born below the surface slowly forgot where they came from. Now only ruins can be found below our feet as nobody really tended to the underground in centuries."

"So really nobody lives there anymore?" Yukio asked

"Only some demons. They tend to stick closer to the humans in the lower parts of the city but occasionally they go hide there."

"Eh? Why do they hide?"

"Because this is one base of the True Cross Order – the exorcists. Most of them exorcise every demon they see, excluding Coal Tars since there are too many of them and they are more or less harmless."

The twins who had been in the care of familiars ever since they had been born and found playmates in Hobgoblins and Greenman, couldn't quite comprehend why it should be necessary to get rid of all demons one encountered.

"That's stupid," Rin decided. "Not all demons are evil."

"And you're right but the Order doesn't bother to think about something like that," Shirou said. He'd always thought of it as ironic, given that Tamers used demons to fight or that Mephisto, one of the strongest Ba'al, was the Order's biggest benefactor.

"So a lot of demons are killed here without a reason?" Yukio inquired frowning.

"Yes," Shirou replied. Seemed like the whole distraction tactic wouldn't be working out for him anytime soon.

"Then it is stupid that this town doesn't belong to anyone! I'll take it and protect everyone!" Rin declared. "That's fairness, not what everyone is doing now. Right, Yukio?"

The younger boy slowly nodded but did not appear entirely convinced.

"No taking over the city now though, Rin. You'll have to look and act like a human, remember? Besides, we're home now and if I remember correctly somebody wanted to eat chocolate pudding...!"

"YES!"

And with that the twins let go of Shirou's hands, racing to the front door of their house and telling their father to hurry up.

In the end Yukio and Rin managed to get used to Japan and all its customs, even if they still kept some of their quirks. Nobody died, the twins hadn't been targeted yet and Shirou already knew where they would disappear to the few times when they still needed a break from it all. Rin would hide away in the kitchen and cook a feast or run off to explore the city. As far as Shirou could tell from when he went with Rin, the boy sought out demons, which were more or less friendly, as playmates. He had a hard time dealing with kids his age, them often being too weak to handle Rin or making fun of his cluelessness considering some things.

So instead Rin scouted the surroundings and demons, which were far easier to deal with for him, going further into the lower parts of the city and sometimes even into the underground.

While that did worry Shirou, Rin always came back looking better than before therefore he let it slide – not before reminding Rin though to never give away his heritage or get involved with the demons' frail power balance in the city's lower parts. The last thing Shirou needed on his hands was Rin overthrowing one of the districts' rulers. The demons would question where Rin came from, exorcists would notice something shifting in the city, so all in all it could only end in disaster. Even though Shirou knew that Rin's build in need to have his own territory was probably screaming at him to go out and conquer all the space in front of him, he just had to deny his son.

The real surprise though was Yukio.

He took refuge in churches, especially the one close to where they lived. The first weeks here had been terrible for the boy. Whereas his mental blockades only had to shut out plants and animals back in their own home, Yukio now had to keep away humans' thoughts and emotions too. Headaches, nausea – Yukio had been at his worst. Shrines and churches seemed to help him. Those were holy places and, mass aside, usually rather empty. The one lost soul coming to visit when Yukio was hiding away behind the altar, didn't appear to bother him. So slowly but steadily he built up his shields again, stronger and better than before. The conversations between him and other people became less awkward and Yukio took a liking especially to their church's congregation.

The elder ladies often called him an angel, much to Yukio's embarrassment and Shirou's amusement.

So even if the whole situation wasn't perfect, they'd make do. And if the dangers looming on the horizon would come closer, well, Shirou would find a way to protect his sons. He'd have to.

Chapter Text

Amateur

to be skilled, to be a beginner

 

After her disastrous entry, it took quite long for the twins to get used to Shura. Neither, no matter what they were doing, let her out of their sight if they were in the same room. Considering they only ever spoke German around her and not once talked with her, she was pretty sure they hated her. But Shirou could apparently tell that the brats were getting used to her and blamed the rather isolated environment they grew up in and himself for their wariness. Shura thought it had more to do with them being half bloods rather than how they were brought up. Some reflexes and instincts you couldn’t just raise out of half bloods, which was why breeding demons into exorcist families was such a long and elaborated process. You wanted strong children and fighters, no uncontrolled bundles of mass destruction.

But that she had to congratulate Shirou on. He had somehow managed to teach the twins control and, if Shura hadn’t misread the files she had spotted on Shirou’s desk, soon wanted to train them as exorcists. Even though she had expected Shirou to introduce the twins to the Order one day, somehow it hadn’t really occurred to her that he wanted to make them real life exorcists and not just weapons. Again, going by assumptions made through barely legible files, Shura might actually end up seeing them in action before she died.

What a joke. If it continued like it did now, she just might be the one to teach the firecracker half of the apocalyptic duo how to actually wield his sword, given that he would use Kurikara to fight. Shura honestly didn’t want to know how Shirou even got his hands on the sword. As far as she knew, it should be in Kyoto with the Myō'ō Dharani and not locked into one of Mephisto’s dimensions. Then again Satan’s children should be dead and she on a mission but here she was, drinking beer while watching the brats do their homework.

“Das ist falsch,” she heard Yukio tell Rin. “Es ist über einen Jungen und seinen dog, nicht über einen Jungen und seine cat.” [That’s wrong. It’s about a boy and his dog, not about a boy and his cat.]

“Ist doch egal! Die Lehrerin mag mich eh nicht. Warum könne wir nicht wieder nach Hause?“ Rin complained. [Doesn’t matter! The (female) teacher doesn’t like me anyway. Why can’t we go back home?]

Even if the twins didn’t talk Japanese around her, Shura could at least tell what they were feeling. They were probably having problems with actually writing Japanese. While they were mostly fluent while speaking as far as Shura could tell, they obviously had problems writing the language. Yukio was better than Rin but even he appeared to be struggling.

Sparing one glance at Shirou, who wasn’t even preparing mass but instead was apparently entirely content reading the newspaper, Shura dragged herself over to the twins, who immediately stiffened.

“Loosen up,” she told them and sat down at their table. “Now let me look at it.”

The twins shared a look before pushing one paper over to Shura. She wasn’t teacher material, had never been. Explaining stuff to other people was boring and exhausting and definitely not her thing. But Shura remembered how much she struggled to write a language she had only ever spoken, and not even correctly considering her accent. At least she had managed to get rid of the hiss following some words.

“I’ll only explain this once, so listen well brats.”

In the end it turned out that they could listen rather well if it interested them and they weren’t too horrible to teach. If it were just them, Shura might give them some pointers. She couldn’t have Shirou raising two failures after all. It would make the sentence the Order would give him for his betrayal only worse.

Had Shura known that this simple gesture would make her Shirou’s go to teacher and babysitter, she certainly wouldn’t have helped the twins back then. That was what Shura told herself over and over again when the brats came to bother her about homework, because they were bored or whatever other excuse they could think of.

Chapter Text

to abolish, to establish

If there was one thing Rin really hated, even more than someone messing with the kitchen - which was off limits for everyone anyway - it was the kitchen table family gatherings. Each time the old man would tell them something cruel about the world, another thing they'd have to hide or watch out for. Sure, Rin was aware that it was for his and Yukio's best, but still he didn't enjoy all these restrictions. Never mind that it was frustrating as hell to see Yukio agree more and more with Shirou. Seriously, he didn't even support Rin last time when their curfew had been cut down by another hour. Rin bet it would be that exact topic again.

Don't go out of the house before the sun rises and be back before it sets, Rin could practically already hear Shirou say it.

When they had been still living in Germany, Shirou hadn't been so strict with them. Given, back then they had been living on Mephisto's property, which they had never left, but they still used to have a vast space. He had never figured out how big exactly the lands surrounding the house were, but certainly big enough that even after the ten years Rin had lived there, Rin could probably easily discover places he hadn't been to before.

With a sigh Rin entered the kitchen and immediately walked over to the fridge to take out some juice. Next he grabbed a glass form the cupboard and poured the orange juice in it as Shirou joined him at the counter to brew himself and probably also Yukio, a cup of coffee. Rin didn't understand how the rest of his family could drink that stuff. It was bitter and gross and messed with his senses. Not as bad as alcohol, he'd forever hate Shura for exposing him to that stuff, but enough to steer Rin far away from it.

"Where's Yukio?" Shirou asked as he sat down at the kitchen table, Rin following suit just a moment later.

"Studying like the nerd he is!" Rin replied, shouting the last part to get his brother to finally himself away from his studies.

"I'm coming!" It sounded just a second after, Yukio's annoyance clearer than anything else. The sound of footsteps on stairs followed and Yukio turned up in the doorframe.

"You could have given me just one more minute, Nii-san," Yukio complained and garbed the second cup of coffee.

"I could but I want this over and done so I can go back to- uhm- important stuff."

"You mean reading my manga."

"Like I said, important stuff," Rin said and shrugged. "Now what's up?"

The twins looked at Shirou, waiting for their father to explain the issue of the week. He looked a lot more tired and bothered by whatever was up this time. Seemed like it was more than another curfew change.

"Mephisto thinks it's a good idea if you'd start attending Cram school," Shirou told them.

"Eh? I thought you and Aniue wanted to keep us away from exorcists and so on?" Rin asked.

He had been perfectly fine with that, in fact he didn't want to join the Order at all. Sure, his grades weren't the best, but they weren't so abysmal that the only option Rin had would be selling himself out to fight his kind. He was sure that he'd be able to find a good job, perhaps in that café that opened up a few streets away. It would be enough for the start since he wouldn't have to move out to live on his own. Maybe he could even open up his own restaurant when he had enough experience working in such. Rin would never say he had his whole life figured out, unlike Yukio, but he knew he was heading in a direction that was good.

"That was what I had intended to do but-"

"But what?" Rin interrupted, tasting lies. "Those bastards want us dead so I don't see why I should join them."

Yukio, he noticed, was oddly silent. He had never been as bothered by exorcists as Rin. Probably because he could actually get away when revealed, if not end up as worshipped. Rin on the other hand would certainly die, so he would prefer it if could live his life far away from any exorcists. They were all hypocrites anyway, Shura and his old man aside.

Exorcists prided themselves on being humanity's saviors while all around on True Cross' lower levels people were living in fright because of the Mashou they got in accidents while staying on the streets. Rin had spent more than enough time around those peoples and the demons living there to know that there was nothing of the Order's protection there.

"It's the only option."

Promises of normal lives, of home, of peace and choices all came crashing down.

"The hell, old man!?" Rin shouted. Even without blue flames coming to life or his demonic appearance showing, he made quite the impression.

"I said, it's the only option," Shirou repeated himself, unbothered by Rin's temper. "Things are changing, Rin. I'm not sure whether keeping you two here will actually protect you anymore."

"So you'll send us to our death instead?"

"Nii-san!"

Rin stood up with a jerk, the wooden chair falling to the ground as he turned to his brother.

"What? It's the truth! Don't doubt for a second that we will be safe within the Order's range."

"Gehenna's been in an uproar ever since the two of you were born and lately it seems like the situation is escalating. If we continue hiding you, the moment the world decides that it's time to take off the kid gloves, you'll be entirely on your own. But if the Order sees that you're useful and not-"

"Not what? A demon? I'm not gonna try to be useful or anything for them! Not when the only thing the Order does is kill my kin!"

Before Shirou or Yukio could stop him, Rin stormed outside.

 

Chapter Text

 

Comprise

to contain, to consist of

Yukio knew he was a weapon in the making. He wasn't quite sure when he realized it or if he always already knew it and just recently found the words for it. Nevertheless he knew it and he had assumed his brother had too. Their training and playing around, as much fun as it was, had more purposes than just self defense. It was meant to be used against enemies and fight back. Yukio had been okay with it, really. He had once read that angels were born as heaven's army. Their, perhaps sole, purpose was fighting and Yukio thought he was fine with doing the same.

He had foolishly believed Rin to be the same.

Yukio had never mentioned or discussed with his brother that they were and would be weapons, fighters, soldiers. He wondered why his brother hadn't made the connection. Certainly he should have noticed something! There must be something in Rin calling him to battle the same way it called Yukio. Frightening, scary and overwhelming as it must be, Rin should have notice it!

But apparently he hadn't, otherwise Yukio wouldn't be searching for him now. It had taken Yukio a bit to stop their father from coming too, Rin would only lash out again if he saw Shirou, of that Yukio was sure. But calming their father had taken longer than Yukio had expected and so Rin had a huge head start already. Not to mention that Rin would definitely escape to True Cross' underground and outer parts, far away from where they were living. He knew his brother liked it there far more than in the upper parts of the huge city.

When they had been younger, Yukio had joined Rin rather often on his trips down, usually more to make sure his brother wouldn't get into trouble rather than actually enjoying exploring the dark allays filled with demons. Then again Rin had always had an air of authority around him and Yukio had long since believed that if they weren't supposed to lay low, Rin would have taken out the big demons and taken this territory for himself. His brother was just ridiculous like that.

Yukio preferred spending times in hospitals, churches and gardens instead. The fact that they lived close to the small church Shirou worked in had always been something Yukio enjoyed. The air was clean there, it was easy to breath. Here in the coal tar filled streets, Yukio had a hard time finding rest.

When, after an hour of searching for Rin, he still hadn't found his brother, Yukio was almost ready to give up and call for Shirou to come and help him. Yukio took his phone out of his jacket's pocket and dialed his father's number. It rung once, twice, - Yukio froze.

What the hell was that!?

He felt like puking. Somewhere close there was something incredibly wrong and disgusting. Yukio had never felt something like this before. It made him want to call upon his currently restrained Grace and wings and burn whatever the hell it was from Assiah's surface. Nothing like this should ever touch this world. Then, suddenly, a familiar flicker.

Yukio dropped his phone and ran.

Rin was in trouble.

As he made his way through various streets, earning confused looks at his rush and panic, Yukio felt worse and worse. He had lost his sense of direction and wasn't quite sure where he was anymore. Only his instincts were leading him, driving him towards the vile creature. He took another turn, reaching Rin and the thing.

His brother was standing in one corner, a few guys lied on the ground, just unconscious Yukio hoped, and a demon, inhabiting the body of some teenager, stood across Rin.

"Nii-san!" Yukio shouted.

"Stay away, Yukio! Call dad, this is-"

"Agares," the demon interrupted and so introduced itself. "Duke of Gehenna. What a pleasure to finally meet its youngest spawns."

A duke – no wonder he had felt that so strongly.

"Now then, we don't want to keep Lord Satan waiting, do we?"

Agares reached for Rin and Rin moved, getting out of the way only in last second. He was so much slower with his powers sealed but if Yukio released them now- No, they couldn't risk it.

It was a split second decision. Yukio ran over to his brother and held out his hand.

"Nii-san, my seal."

"I'm not gonna-"

"Rin," Yukio urged, "my seal. I have a way better chance than you."

That was a lie, naturally. They were pretty equal in power but Yukio feared what would happen if Rin went all out with his flames in a city full of exorcists. It was a miracle and a disappointment at the same time that no exorcist had turned up yet.

For a moment Yukio thought he'd have to call Rin again, but his brother turned his gaze to the people lying on the ground. He had probably coming to the same conclusion as Yukio. Besides, Agares was only possessing a body and while Rin could just smash him out of the human's body, there was no telling if the teenager would survive it.

"Make him pay."

It was overwhelming to let his wings free again after not using them for such a long time. The sky was Yukio's domain and yet he had to wonder if he could still fly so long had it been since he had left the ground.

There was no time to stretch his wings.

"The fuck are you?!" Agares screeched.

The duke was possessing just a teenager. He was powerful, far too strong for Yukio to even think of defeating him, but a normal teenager's body wasn't made for such power. Agares had to restrain himself to stay on Assiah and even more to stay in that boy's body. It was probably even hurting the demon. But Yukio, freed like that, was a soldier of above.

Slowly the words left his mouth, foreign yet familiar as his Grace made them easily comprehensible.

" Evil dwells within this heart…"

 

 

Chapter Text

Knowledge of demons and the True Cross Order

That demons and the True Cross Order exist is not common knowledge to the everyday civilian. The world's governments know and tolerate the Order because they don't have the resources to maintain their own counter demon taskforces. The existence of demons is kept a secret because the authorities believe it would lead to a mass panic. Before the enlightenment, the believe in demons was a lot higher but nowadays more people can see demons again because of their rising number in Assiah.

True Cross Order

True Cross Order came into existence in the Middle Ages, having been an Order of the Temple. Therefore the ruling power of the Order is the Vatican. Because of bigotry, arrogance and superiority complexes, they are rather intolerant of the exorcist practices of other cultures. There is at least one branch of the Order in every Christian country and every other bigger country. Most countries also have their own exorcist organizations in some shape or form, but they're not necessarily as organized as True Cross. Some are not even organizations at all but rather in culture kept practices like the Myoda before they joined up with True Cross. Those groups usually join True Cross because it guarantees security, which is much needed given that demons have become more and more aggressive lately. Mephisto's keys are another benefactor as they make work easier.

In general most exorcist organizations have some kinds of contracts with True Cross or in between each other guaranteeing help in case of emergencies.

Usually English, Spanish or Italian is spoken – Italian being a requirement for every exorcist starting Lower 2nd Class – on missions with people from different countries considering those are the most widely known languages.

The Order also leads various orphanages for children who lost their parents in demon attacks and can see demons now as well as regular orphans found on the street. They try to get these children adopted into exorcist families and very rarely do these children end up working anywhere that is not connected to the Order.

All personnel of the Vatican has basic exorcist training .

Exorcism

Mephisto states that he and some of his siblings gave humans the ability to exorcise demons. This seems to be utterly ridiculous, when taken word for word, given that the time period in which Mephisto appears to have given humans the ability to fight demons seem to be the Middle Ages. In the Gospel of Mark it is stated that Jesus and his disciples already exorcised demons, just going with Christian religion here. So my theory is that Mephisto and his siblings gave humans the ability to fight demons themselves – without the aid of Heaven but in general by employing human means. Furthermore using demons to fight off other demons became more common and used even in the True Cross Order. The hugest part of this new kind of exorcism is probably Taming but also using demon weapons (Shura's or Angel's swords for example). Bottom line of all of this being that now even atheistic people can fend off demons, no faith needed.

Meister

Tamer: Technically everybody can become a Tamer. The idea of talent being required struck me as stupid as everyone can be tempted and possessed by demons too. So I thought that being able to become a Tamer depends on whether the demons consider you worthy in any shape or form. It's a give and take relationship with a circle giving the demon the ability to stay in Assiah, the Tamer's blood binding them together, and the demon in turn following the Tamers orders – as long there is either mutual respect/the Tamer is strong enough. Because a lot of exorcists resent working with demons, there aren't many Tamers in the Order. There are other exorcist communities though which consist mainly of Tamers because their understanding of demons is that not all of them are harmful and only the bad ones need to be fought.

Dragoon: One of the youngest and oldest Meister at the same time. Using holy bullets is a rather new practice compared to using a bow and arrows but nevertheless effective. Guns are used just as well as arrows or so still, it depends on what your preferred weapon is. Bullets have become more common though because they're easier to handle and there is more specific ammunition that can be made.

Doctor: This Meister is the one with still the most room for growth as the exorcist community is still learning about demons and how to treat wounds inflicted by them. Each exorcist is given mandatory Doctor training focusing on first aid and recognizing and treating the most common demon inflicted diseases. First aid courses are given every two years. Cultures and religions that are more in tune with nature brought forth the first Doctors as their way of treating patients didn't consist of "throw holy water at them and hope for the best". Most bigger hospitals also have an exorcist with Doctor training at standby in case somebody with a demon inflected disease comes in. Many Doctors have gardens so they don't have to buy the herbs they need all the time. Doctors on more dangerous missions have become mandatory.

Aria: Aria is the oldest Meister and, next to Doctor, the one that requires the most studying. Most Arias have a second Meister as the moment they start chanting, they're the demons main target. The most basic Aria can read from a sacred scripture to exorcise a demon, advanced ones can be more lax with the verses and shorten or alter them, mix them together. Very good Arias might not even need to stick to a holy scripture but, given that they are religious, might even exorcise with a prayer. This method is very risky and not really practiced as the success is not guaranteed. Many Arias carry around various Holy Scriptures just in case they can't recall a verse or need to look one up.

Knight: This Meister is also one of the oldest. Many Knights try to get their hands on sacred/enchanted swords or demon swords to enhance their fight capabilities. Regular swords are usually silver and coated in holy water or a potion made from herbs that wards off demons. Besides Tamers they are also the most well versed in the art of sealing demons or weapons away.

Sealing: While Sealing not a Meister is you can study, it is a practice you can learn. Tamers tap into it when they make summoning circles and Knights often practice it when tending to their sacred/enchanted/demon swords. Many Knights and Tamers get various Seals tattooed on their bodies to make combat easier.

True Cross City

The outer city has been greatly shaped by the Industrial Revolution, giving it a style reminiscing Steampunk, as well as the demons and exorcists living there. The gap between rich and poor is rather big with the upper class living in the higher parts of the town and the poorer people in the city's outskirts. While in the districts high up the streets are wide and the presence of exorcists makes sure that there aren't as many demons, the lower parts of the city have narrow alleys and are infested with demons.

In total, True Cross has 13 city districts. Two of those are upper class where the rich live and Mephisto's school is, nine are middle class and two are lower class.

Most of these districts have a frail power balance concerning demons. Only the two upper class ones are without/nobody dares to claim them when they clearly belong to Mephisto – even if he hasn't actually called them his.

Many people in the lower two districts can see demons but exorcists don't often actually go there. People there have found their own ways of dealing with demons, stealing Holy water from churches, salt and some plants. Children are taught about demons in urban legends and fairy tales so that if they end up seeing them, are more or less prepared.

True Cross Underground City

The Underground City is the first True Cross. Originally just a mountain, people decided to live inside of it because of war. That way they hoped their home would be easier to defend. The people of the mountain lived in peace and so their number grew until the mountain couldn't contain all of them all. Because the battles lessened, the people decided that it was alright to start building at the surface again. Living outside was more pleasant in some ways than inside the mountain so more and more people abandoned their homes inside the mountain in favor of living on the surface. In the end the inner buildings of the mountain were entirely abandoned. The city on the outside though had grown and soon began to attract people. Most of the underground has been forgotten. And while it is stable, it is mostly in ruins. Demons happen to hide out there at times but can't stay there as they are depended on humans in some ways.

Nevertheless, the Underground City is the reason the Order and Mephisto have bases here. It is easy to evacuate civilians should an attack occur and to set up barriers. Last but not least, it's a great place to hide things and be sure that nobody will find them there.

 

Chapter Text

 

“Rocky cliffs, and fire, and water,

Birds and creatures, use them all.”

His voice broke in the middle of the Greater Doxology. His younger siblings to his left and right looked at him in wonder with their bright innocent eyes. They were asking him why his voice wasn’t leading them forward anymore as it used to do for ages.

“He’s alive,” was the only thing he said, certainly no explanation to them. They’re too young, born after the war. They couldn’t understand.

Then he turned around, leaving his siblings at a smart pace. There were preparations to be made; he had a brother to welcome back home.

“So in our narrow playhouse waken

The whole wide circle of creation.”

His childhood home was still as dark and cold as he remembered it. And even after all these years he still knew exactly which turns to take, even if he had tried so hard to forget it. He wondered if it would make Rin even angrier if he told him and his brother yet another secret that had been kept from them. How often could he say that it was for their safety before even Yukio wouldn’t trust him anymore?

Sighing he stuck the highly decorated key into the lock and turned it. It clicked and he withdrew the key again in favor of opening the door. Immediately he was hit be the distinctive smell of a hospital; disinfectant.

Gently he laid a flower banquet on the table right next to the bed before unbuttoning his jacket and hanging it over the chair.

“Hello, Yuri,” he greeted the woman who still looked like she had fifteen years ago. As always only silence answered Shirou.

 “And stride, deliberately, as well,

From Heaven, through the world, to Hell.”

“For your sake I hope you’re not lying, Agares,” the King hissed, sharp nails digging into the arm of the duke and drawing blood.

“I wouldn’t dare to!” The duke replied hastily. “I swear on my life-“

“Which is worth nothing.”

The duke nodded slowly, not wanting to aggravate his King any further. One wrong word and he’d find his end at the hands of an erratic King of Rot. Even if Agares had proved himself to be useful to the King over and over again, he was still an expendable soldier. The demon licked his lips, tasting sulphur.

“Of course. But I speak the truth when I say that your youngest brother possesses the power of Beri’ah.”

The King of Rot was silent, seemingly lost in thought. Then a grimace took over his blank expression, sharp teeth shining dangerously.

“I’ve always wondered what it would be like to tear out the wings of an angel.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust,

Verses 237 - 242

Chapter Text

Bound

Heading to a destination, Restrained from movement

To Yukio, the rest of the days until he and Rin left for school were the most stressful ones he’d experienced in his life. Only his first few weeks in Japan had been worse perhaps.

Rin refused to talk to Shirou, leaving it to Yukio to play mediator between the two of them. And even if there was no direct communication between Rin and Shirou, they had a lot to tell the other and too many demands to make.

Rin tried to get Shirou to have them be appointed as Shura’s apprentices, Shirou wanted them to go to cram school. Rin refused to continue going to regular school as well as cram school and Shirou wanted him to live in the dorms. Rin wanted to only share a room with Yukio, Shirou thought it better if they would split up. Rin promised to misbehave so terribly that Shirou would be forced to make him drop out, Shirou promised to have Mephisto talk to Rin.

It was exhausting.

“Can’t you two just apologize?” Yukio asked his brother one night.

Rin shook his head. “He lied to us, Yukio. I’m not gonna apologize when I did nothing wrong.”

“He tries his best to protect us,” Yukio tried to reason. He might not be entirely comfortable with the way their father choose to do so, but Yukio would respect his father’s choices. He had more experience dealing with the world than Yukio and Rin together.

Rin balled his hands into fists and kicked against a pile of clothes. “I know. But still, that gives him no right to just tell us what to do.”

“He’s our dad.”

“Then he should trust us some more,” Rin exclaimed. “We’re not children anymore! And even then, he could have just said something!”

Yukio felt like his brother was just repeating himself in ten different versions. Resigned Yukio returned to reviewing his notes, glancing at Rin every other minute but he was still running up and down in their room, seemingly unable to calm down.

Rin had been restless ever since the demon duke had attacked them, Yukio could empathize. There was something off about the world. He could feel it in his bones; it made them ache. Not with pain, not yet, but with something old.

It made Yukio want to get up and do something about it. He felt like he should be somewhere else, follow the calling. The stress his brother and father’s fight caused only added to this pressure he was feeling.

 “I mean, I’d have looked forward to fighting together with the old man years ago had he just said something!” Rin suddenly spoke up again, his voice full of pent-up frustrations.

Rin's outbreak made Yukio look up from his notes in surprise. That had been the first time Rin had ever said something like that. Even when they were younger, Rin had always been very vocal about the fact that he hated their father’s profession.

“Really?” He asked and stared at his brother. Blue eyes filled with anger, regret and pain so similar and yet entirely unlike his own looked back at him.

“Of course! It’s not like Dad goes after harmless demons. If going with him would have meant he’d be home more often and less injured, I’d have begged him to let me attend cram school!” Rin ranted.

“But you didn’t,” Yukio stated.

Rin dropped onto his bed. “No, I didn’t. I didn’t need to. He said he was fine and that we’d be alright. He was always truthful with us. When he said he could handle it, I believed him. When he said that we wouldn’t have to fight because we were safe, I trusted him.”

This explanation made a lot more sense to Yukio than any other theory he had come up with to explain his brother’s behavior. Rin wasn’t angry at Shirou for making them fight per se, but rather the play pretending the man had done before.

He was furious at their father for concealing that one day they’d have to step up to fight and weren’t in fact safe.

But still-

“Wouldn’t you prefer being able to grow up happy to growing up with the knowledge that you’d have to fight one day?” Yukio asked.

Even if it had been evident to him that one day they would have to fight, he still cherished every moment in which he hadn’t had to think about that yet.

“I don’t know,” Rin answered honestly. “But I know that I don’t like being lied to.”

And with that Rin finally stopped pacing and lay down on his bed. After staring at the ceiling for a while, he turned around with his back facing Yukio. It was how he usually declared a discussion for finished. The younger twin glanced at the clock and decided to turn the lights off and head to bed as well. The next day would be eventful after all.

Chapter Text

Consult

To offer advice, to obtain it

They had left early for school by popular demand. Popular demand being mostly Rin who had packed both his and Yukio’s belongings overnight and then proceeded to wake up his twin just after sunrise. Yukio wouldn’t have minded leaving a bit later so he could properly bid goodbye to the clergymen and the other people he’d been on good terms with at the parish. But it wasn’t like he wouldn’t be able to visit them on the weekends and for now keeping Rin calm was further up his priority list.

One of Mephisto’s underlings had picked them up and drove them to the dorm they’d be staying at as well as equipped them with the keys they needed to get into cram school.

“What’s our room again?” Rin asked, staring at the massive staircase in front of them.

“A309,” Yukio replied with as much enthusiasm as he could muster up and started to work his way up. Climbing up the stairs to the third floor every day multiple times would be a pain.

Rin sighed and followed suit. By the time they had reached their floor and found their room at the very end of it, they felt like they had already half a marathon behind them.

They unpacked mostly in silence, and only a few words were exchanged as they switched shirts packed into the wrong bag and discussed what books would be put on what shelf. After sharing a room for fifteen years, they knew each other’s habits and preferences. They were a well-oiled machine and worked accordingly.

Afterwards, they checked out the campus, searching for weak spots – of which they found none as to be expected with Samael – and escape routes as well as the nearest supermarket since Rin refused to buy anything at the overpriced cafeteria when he could make much better food much cheaper.

“We can spend the money on other things,” he had told Yukio, earning himself a smirk and a questioning “Shojo Manga?”

After their tour, Yukio returned to their dorm to read over his speech for tomorrow again while Rin walked towards Mephisto’s office to discuss his schedule for the next week. While Rin had gotten out of attending regular classes, he still had to keep himself busy someway according to Shirou. Rin would have been perfectly fine doing whatever he felt like doing and would have continued arguing if not for Yukio asking him to stop.

A few too many wrong turns and asking the personnel later, Rin had made it to Mephisto’s office. Silently he cursed his seal and his dampened senses; his sense of direction was so much better, pretty damn near perfect if he was honest, if he’d be allowed to walk around in his true form.

Rin raised his hand to knock at the door but centimeters before he even touched the wooden door, Mephisto already called him inside. The teenager opened the door and closed it behind him again.

“Morgen, Aniue,” Rin greeted as he looked around Mephisto’s office. It was quite spacey but less pink and not as full of anime merchandise as he had expected. Perhaps that was the reason Mephisto's house was packed with the stuff; he had to make up for the time he couldn’t spend around his beloved figurines, manga, and whatever else he decorated his mansion with.

“Good morning, Okumura-kun,” Mephisto replied, making Rin frown in confusion.

Years of being called by ridiculous nicknames, Ri-chan not even being the most horrible of them all, and now he was suddenly ‘Okumura-kun’?

What the hell.

“You’re going to attend cram school as Okumura Rin, adopted son of the current Paladin Fujimoto Shirou. You being slightly familiar with me is to be expected, but first and foremost I am Johannes Faust, the headmaster of this school, to you. And you are my student Okumura Rin, not the little hellspawn I call my brother,” Mephisto elaborated Rin’s unvoiced question.

“Alright,” Rin grumbled, annoyed that there would be even more secrets and lying. Sure, he had expected it, but that didn’t mean that he was alright with it.

“Great! Now that we have already sorted this out, let’s get to your schedule. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time for more chit-chat. And sit down, Okumura-kun.”

Rin did as told and slouched in Mephisto’s comfortable armchair, earning himself a disapproving glance but no further reprimand.

“Since you have voiced displeasure about attending regular classes -“ Rin snorted. Displeasure was one way to call it. “- we need to keep you busy in the hours Yukio’s attending school. Since some form of productive work you could put on your resume would be nicer, I’ve been looking into Order related places you could perhaps get an internship at despite the fact that you haven’t started exorcist training yet.”

So basically Rin was getting groomed into working for the Order. More than just attending classes, his future was being written in stone right this moment and Rin didn’t have the chisel.

“Moriyama Shizuka, the owner of the exorcist shop, has offered you to work with her, or rather help her daughter Shiemi tend to their garden as young miss Shiemi hasn’t been feeling all too well.”

“You want me to do gardening,” Rin summarized.

“In the garden of the woman who sells every herb and more an exorcist could want and Pages such as you usually aren’t allowed in.”

Rin stared blankly at his older brother’s face. “You want me to help in an exorcist garden.”

“It’ll be a good lesson for you,” Mephisto said and stood up, Rin following suit. “Herbs are quite useful. They can attract troublesome fellows as well as keep them away.”

Then Mephisto reached into his pockets and pulled out three keys. Two of them identical and rather plain looking while the third one gleamed green.

“The plain ones are for you and your brother. They’ll take you to cram school. The green one here is just for you and will take you to Moriyama-san. Don’t lose them. With that said, I expect to hear only praises about your hard work.”

Rin knew a dismissal when he got it and so he took the keys from Mephisto, said his goodbye and made his way back to the dorm.

Chapter Text

Temper

to soften, to strengthen

Rin got up approximately forty minutes before he usually would, and twenty minutes before Yukio. Once his brother would rise, he’d certainly stare at Rin in wonder.

Okumura Rin getting up early?

Unthinkable.

Rin always fell asleep past midnight, most of the time around 2 a.m. He couldn’t help it since he felt the most awake at night and therefore stayed up late. It certainly hadn’t helped him with paying attention in school since every morning felt like he was suffering from jetlag.

Yet here he was, awake at six in the morning.

First he grabbed his school uniform and put it in the bag with his school books. For a moment he contemplated not even taking his school uniform with him and showing up to cram school in his then dirty post gardening clothes. He knew it would get on Shirou’s nerves. But the man was stubborn and Rin didn’t put it past him to drag him back to his dorm and get changed into a uniform. And that, in turn, would only annoy Rin and so defeat its purpose. He was supposed to be the one amused after all.

Sighing Rin grabbed his work clothes, old sweatpants and a shirt he wouldn’t miss – He definitely wouldn’t. It was super ugly and Yukio’s. He was doing his brother a favor – and disappeared in the community bath.

Afterwards he went to the kitchen and prepared some sandwiches for himself and Yukio. By the time he was back in his room, his brother had woken up.

“Good morning,” Rin greeted and put Yukio’s lunch box on Yukio’s desk.

“Morning,” Yukio replied and reached for his glasses.

“Food’s in the box. Only breakfast though, didn’t have the time for more.”

“You’re heaven sent,” Yukio muttered and got up. “Thank you.”

Rin smiled at his brother, then reached for his keys. “I gotta get going now. See you later!”

Rin took the green key and put it into the keyhole of their door honestly not expecting much.

He was positively surprised.

What lay behind it was a world out of a dream. It appeared too impossible to be real and yet here it was. Rin had ended up standing on a high bridge. He walked over to the railing and discovered that he was high up. Far higher than he had been before. The outer districts Rin preferred being in were far away. So he was probably up in the first ward.

And while the property on the other side of the bridge looked big, it didn’t seem particularly fancy. So the Moriyama were probably under Mephisto’s protection if they lived up here.

Rin began to walk towards the house, which looked very Japanese, unlike the houses Rin had grown up in. Once he stood in front of the wooden front door, he knocked and then entered.

To his left and right shelves twice as tall as he stood, full of glasses, plants, books and boxes. All kinds of aromas reached Rin’s nose, but none of them unpleasant.

And at the other side of the room, a brown-haired woman sat behind the counter.

“Moriyama-san?” Rin asked politely, his stomach curling up.

“That’s me. Nice to meet you, Okumura-kun,” she greeted him, smiling. “I’m happy you’re here. Has Pheles told you anything besides that you’ll work here for the rest of the school year?”

The woman was quite direct and the way she said Pheles, as if she wasn’t all that fond of him, made Rin immediately like her.

“Not really. I’m supposed to help your daughter with gardening?”

Moriyama laughed. “Yes, that’s about it. We have a huge garden and Shiemi looks after it since I’m busy in the shop here. Lately though she’s been having problems with her legs so it takes her too long to finish the work or she isn’t able to finish at all.”

Moriyama’s expression became sad. “And she could use some company. We haven’t been on good terms lately.”

Rin nodded slowly. “Alright. Anything else I need to know?”

The woman looked thoughtful, then searched through the papers on her desk. Finally pulled a few out and gave them to Rin.

“That’s the list of all the plants in the garden and what their uses are. Pheles mentioned you have dormant demon blood, so I’ve marked those plants you shouldn’t touch or get too close to.”

Rin politely gave her his thanks and skimmed over the pages. A few of the plants he recognized, others were entirely foreign to him. When he was done, Moriyama pointed him towards the garden as an exorcist already came inside, rattling off a list of things he needed before even taking notice of the teen.

Rude.

Rin decided to slip away before the man got out of his self-centered world, happy he could escape the conversation, and followed Moriyama’s instructions. He quickly found the garden and the blonde girl sitting inside it, seemingly entirely lost in thought.

Unsure if he should approach her directly or wait for her to take notice of him, Rin chose the save middle and cleared his throat.

The girl twitched slightly before carefully turning around to take a look at him. Her green eyes widened considerately, something like panic crawled into her expression and all Rin could do was think that he had managed to mess up already. He just wasn’t good at this meeting new people gig. Or new places. Or anything beyond his territory shaped comfort zone.

“Hi,” he croaked and waved, looking probably like the most awkward idiot in Assiah.

“H-hello,” came the stammered reply.

They stared at each other for what felt like an eternity before they dared to make a move.

“I’m-“ They said at the same time, only to cut themselves off to give the other space.

Rin felt just a little like giving up and walking straight back home.

Screw the keys, Mephisto, his father and stupid, idiotic, frustrating conversations Rin couldn’t make.

He should just turn around and save himself the embarrassment.

“I- I’m Shiemi,” Moriyama introduced herself instead, putting on a brave face. “Nice to meet you…?”

“Rin,” he offered. “I’m just Rin. Your new helper. I help you with uhm- whatever needs to be done?”

As soon as he had introduced himself, Shiemi seemed to calm down a little. She expressed all her emotions earnestly on her face. It was nice in a way, to meet someone who didn’t feel like they’d have to guard themselves on an emotional level.

Rin smiled hesitantly. “So, what do you need my help with?”

Chapter Text

Splice

to join, to separate

Going to class without Rin was strange. Yukio hadn’t had to be overly early to get two seats next to each other in the second row, near the window, but also wasn’t nearly too late due to Rin oversleeping. Rin had actually already been off by the time Yukio had gone to the bathroom, which by all means was very odd. Rin could sleep the whole day if you let him.

Yukio’s day continued with Rin’s lack of presence haunting him, startling him at the strangest times. During classes for example, when Yukio could keep his whole focus on the teacher for once and suddenly jerked because he hadn’t had to keep an eye on Rin. In the short breaks between each lesson, the other students tried to involve him in their conversations and when it was time for lunch break, Yukio found himself sitting with two of his classmates, both also attending the school on a scholarship.

It was nice, but Yukio didn’t try to tell himself he wasn’t lonely. Something about this situation made it hard for him to connect.

As soon as class was over, Yukio hurried out of the classroom, eager to get to the cram school lessons and ask Rin about his day. That was if Rin turned up. Yukio wouldn’t be surprised if Rin would try to run away.

Yukio reached the dorm in record time, his room even faster. There he only grabbed his second bag with his cram school books and searched for his key. Upon finding it, he used it on the door and disappeared from his room.

Even though he was somewhat used to traveling by keys and had to admit their usefulness, he couldn’t help but dislike the feeling of stepping through a portal.

Luckily for him, the discomfort faded quickly. A quick glance at his watch told him he was almost twenty minutes early too. Despite his previous assumptions, Yukio silently hoped Rin would be here too already so they could exchange stories before class but by the time Yukio had found the right classroom in the massive building, only a few minutes were left and there was still no sign of Rin.

So Yukio settled on studying his classmates.

Two girls, one with violet hair and one with brown hair, sat at the back of the class, obviously ignoring everyone and busy talking to each other.

In the middle of the classroom sat a boy who was playing with a creepy doll Yukio did not want to get a closer look at. It felt eerie, and whatever presence resided inside of it, alarmed him. Vowing to keep track of the doll and its owner, Yukio turned to his remaining classmates.

On the left side of the room, three boys were discussing how their lessons could go. Weirdly the most delinquent looking of them all - piercings, dyed hair, scowling - seemed to be the most interested in getting a proficient teacher.

Well, with his father, the Paladin, teaching them, they sure wouldn’t have an incompetent teacher.

And then, as if he knew Yukio had been thinking about him, Shirou entered the classroom, Rin following close behind him, scowling.

So he had tried to get away and Shirou had caught him.

Rin immediately sat down next to Yukio, sparing Shirou no glance unlike everyone else who seemed to be unable to take their eyes off Shirou.

His father smiled kindly, appearing relaxed, but Yukio could see the sleepless nights weighing down on his shoulder.

“So you’re this year’s class. I’m Fujimoto Shirou and starting today your homeroom teacher.”

Shirou put his bag on his desk and sat down right next to it.

“So, we’ll start this lesson with introductions! Name, hobbies, why you are here and what Meister you’re aiming for,” Shirou continued.

The brown-haired girl in the back raised her hand. “What is a Meister?”

“Good question. If you ever don’t understand anything in a lecture, just ask. I don’t bite and I prefer answering the questions of students to inexperienced exorcists on the field,” Shirou told her before he started actually replying to her question. “Meister are what we call the different professions of fighting demons. It’s rather simple actually. Knights fight with swords, Dragoons with guns. Tamers summon demons, Arias recite holy scriptures and Doctors are our healers. If you already know what position you’ll choose, just say it. If you don’t, leave it out. Don’t worry though, we’ll cover the topic a little later in class in detail.”

The girl nodded slowly, then turned to the violet-haired one next to her and began to whisper.

“Well, I’ll start with introductions. My name is Fujimoto Shirou, as I’ve already told you, and my rank is Paladin. This means I have all five Meister.”

At this the three boys sitting together took a sharp breath, their eyes wide and almost shining in admiration.

“I haven’t been on active duty for a while though as my potential successors are taking up these jobs. Personally, I prefer teaching to hunting demons. My hobbies include reading and gardening. The reason I’m an exorcist… I want to make a difference.”

Everyone in class hung onto every word Shirou said. He was an excellent teacher, how could he not be with having taught Rin and Yukio for years until they actually started school?

Yukio and his brother had given Shirou a lot of trouble regarding schooling, compared to True Cross students, they must have been a nightmare.

“I’ll continue calling you up by your name. Let’s see, who is up next…”

Shirou took out the class list and read over it. “Kamiki-kun?”

The girl with the violet hair stood up. “Here!”

A second passed before she started to speak. “I’m Kamiki Izumo. I like reading. I’m here because this is the best school to study at. I’ll be a Tamer.”

A bold declaration, to Yukio it seemed like she was radiating determination in its purest form.

 “Tamer, huh? We haven’t had many powerful ones in the past years. You’ve set yourself quite a goal. Next one is Miwa-kun.”

A short bald boy stood up, looking a bit nervous in the face of so many people paying attention to him.

“My name is Miwa Konekomaru. I, like Kamiki-kun, enjoy reading and additionally also writing sutras. I decided to come to this school to support my friends. The Meister I’m aiming for is Aria.”

He quickly sat down again while the pink haired boy hit him on his back and then said something that had Miwa scowl at him.

“Arias need to study and memorize quite a lot,” Shirou commented again, probably going to do so for all the students. “And need to be able to think quickly. But a good Aria is worth a lot. Well, then. Next one up is Okumura-kun.”

Yukio looked at Rin and then back at their father. He probably wanted to keep up the professionalism and avoid any rumors about favoritism coming up.

“Okumura Rin,” Shirou added since Rin didn’t make any attempts to move. Rin was always called up first. This was just another way his brother tried to get back at their father again.

Yukio sighed. Why couldn’t they talk it out and spare him the headache?

Nevertheless, Rin now stood up slowly.  To others, it might seem like Rin was utterly bored but Yukio could tell his brother was up to something. The little smirk he tried to hide gave it all away.

“Ich bin Rin Okumura und ich bin nur hier, weil ich hier sein muss,” Rin said and immediately sat down on his seat again. Their father shot him a disappointed glance but Rin pretended not to see. [I’m Okumura Rin and I’m only here because I have to be.]

Yukio stood up instead. He could already feel the other students’ annoyance. He wouldn’t let his brother ruin his own reputation and be miserable for the rest of the year just because he was angry at their father.

“Please excuse my brother. We weren’t aware we’d attend cram school until a few weeks ago, so this is all rather sudden still. My name is Okumura Yukio and Rin here is my older twin brother. We both like being outside and reading manga. I know how to play the trumpet and my brother is a great cook. I’d like the Meisters Dragoon and Doctor. My brother would make a good Tamer or Knight.”

Rin shot Yukio a venomous look but Yukio didn’t care.

(That was a lie, naturally. He always cared. He and his brother didn’t fight, nor were they particularly mean to each other. After spending ten years together without any other child around, your sibling was more than just your best friend and fighting hurt more than anything else. He couldn’t allow himself to care every single time.)

Rin’s social life was terrible enough as it was. Yukio wasn’t going to let him sabotage it any further.

Yukio retook his place and the introductions continued.

Chapter Text

Weather

to withstand, to wear away

There were certain absolute truths in everyone’s life you couldn’t help but be aware of.  For some, those were fundamental facts like the sky is blue or water is wet.

For Shiemi, those truths consisted of “I’m afraid” and “My garden is safe.”

From an early age on she had had problems interacting with other people, which eventually drove her away from the world beyond the walls of her home. Strangers were mean, children even more so with their painful honesty and improvident words.

Her garden though was always welcoming and kind to her, nobody could hurt her while she was tending to her plants. No mean words were able to reach her and no stranger could enter.

Lately, though Shiemi entertained the thought of going outside, maybe just to the supermarket, more and more often.

The reason behind that was her coworker, though she’d prefer calling Rin a friend.

And they were friends, the boy had said so himself multiple times already.

In certain moments Shiemi couldn’t tell if he did it to reassure her or to make it all a bit more real for himself, but the fact was that now Shiemi had her first friend.

One who spent every Monday till Friday from eight to two with her, cracking jokes while carrying huge pots from one end of the garden to the other and sometimes sharing lunch with her. And all while keeping his distance, be it physically or while speaking. He never stepped too close to her and he didn’t ask questions she wouldn’t want to answer. He was mindful of the invisible boundaries Shiemi had drawn.

Rin was kind and the stories he told of the places he’d been to never failed to make her wish she could go there too. In moments like these Shiemi even dared to think about searching for Amahara again. A dream she had given up long ago when she realized it would mean leaving all of this behind.

But it was no use, Shiemi would simply have to make the best of every day.

If only the pain in her legs would lessen – even standing had become torture! – then she could really enjoy this day too.

“Shiemi, where should I put the aloe?” Rin asked and so tore her out of her musings.

He was standing near the herb bed, the pot with the still mostly small sancho already in hand, awaiting her instructions.

She looked around, searching for a sunny place that wasn’t already occupied by another plant and found one close to her grandmother’s shed.

“Please give it to me, Rin-kun. I’ll take the sancho to its new home!”

Rin frowned for a second in confusion, just like he always did when she used the names she and her grandmother had invented for the plants, then shrugged and held the pot out for her.

Carefully she rose to her feet, paying especially close attention to not jerking her legs up and making it seem like she was in no pain at all. Just yesterday she had heard her mother muse about whether she should take longer breaks between working so that her legs wouldn’t be taxed too much.

But working less wasn’t an option for Shiemi.

She loved her garden, the place where she could feel her grandmother’s ghost the strongest.

If she couldn’t continue making this garden as close to Amahara as she could, it was all over before it had even really begun.

Confidently she took the first step, only to cry out in pain, stumble and fall to the ground again while a thousand needles were pressed into her legs simultaneously.

Tears rolled over her cheeks as the roots keeping her on the ground tightened, legs cramping uncontrollably.

“Shiemi!” Rin shouted, dropping the sancho and running over to her. “Are you alright? Are it your legs again!?”

“They hurt, they hurt so much. Make it stop,” she cried.

She didn’t want this, had never wanted this to happen.

Shiemi just wanted to go back to how it all was before! When she still could run, she and mother weren’t fighting all the time and grandmother was still alive!

“Stop it, please,” she repeated.

“I- I’ll fix it,” Rin stammered, bright blue eyes full with horror. “I promise, I’ll fix it!”

Then she lost consciousness and the pain faded away like every other sensory input.

When she woke again, it was to an unfamiliar beeping tone, too loud to ignore. The sound, as well as the smell of disinfectant and sick people, neither pleasant to her nose, only worsened the throbbing of her head.

Her body was numb and her eyes felt heavy. Opening them had never been such a hard task. She squinted, attempting to gain some clarity to the blurry pictures in front of her, wanting to know where she was, even if the bright light hurt.

“She’s waking up!” Someone said.

But the sight she was rewarded with in the end made the effort worth it.

Her mother was sitting on her right side with puffy red eyes.

“Shiemi!” She called and took her hand. “Shiemi, how do you feel? Are you alright?”

“We’ll get a doctor,” a man said. She recognized the voice but couldn’t place it. Who did it belong to? “Come along, Rin.”

“But-“

She saw Rin scurrying past her bed, following the man - Fujimoto-san – before her mother began to speak to her again and Shiemi attempted to answer with a hoarse throat.

Chapter Text

Hold up

to support, to impede

Shirou considered himself to be somebody who was prepared for most situations. His status as the Paladin required him to be the first and last line of defense, the one who caught onto danger and defeated it before the kingdom fell, or, if had already gone too far, be the one who rebuilt the castle. It was a paradox in and of itself, especially since in the last years he had felt more and more like one of the Vatican’s replaceable pawns.

Of course, he’d always been just an asset, but his skill set had made him a valuable one.

Perhaps he had become too bold with his demands, too sharp with his accusations, too harsh with his questions. He wouldn’t know until he finally passed his title down and well, Shirou honestly doubted he would be aware enough then to know for what reasons precisely the Order had been displeased with him.

As long as his problems didn’t reflect on Rin and Yukio, he didn’t care either way. His whole life was built on lies, deceit and schemes; he had pissed off a lot of people, and frankly speaking had grown tired of trying to figure out why exactly whoever was annoyed with him.

He’d considered it more important to focus his attention on other matters, such as his students. He enjoyed teaching classes and watching clumsy teenagers grow into strong adults and he prided himself on the fact that his former students always came out as the strongest and, more importantly, alive.

Even if the second years could get on his nerves pretty severely.

“Alright, everybody settle down,” Shirou said, arms crossed over his chest. He’d been trying to get them to finish their task for five minutes now but they were all distracted by upcoming tests and wouldn’t focus at all. “And turn off that phone!”

Silence followed his words before one brave student finally raised their hand. “Uuh, sensei, I think that’s your phone…”

The phone rang another time, and indeed, it was his phone disturbing the lesson.

“You’re right. I apologize,” Shirou replied and searched for his phone in his bag.

Seldom somebody called him on his private phone, no wonder he didn’t recognize the tune immediately. He frowned upon seeing who was calling him.

“Rin?” He asked, confused that his eldest was breaking his silence so suddenly. Weeks of receiving the silent treatment or a few snappy comments and now this.

“… Dad?”

That definitely was his son’s voice, but there was nothing of Rin's usual confidence in his ton. Nevermind that he shouldn't be calling Shirou right now anyway. Rin was supposed to be working another two hours at least. It wasn’t even close to midday and his lunch break.

“Rin, is everything alri-“

But Rin interrupted him before Shirou could finish his sentence.

“Dad, you have to come! Please! There’s something wrong with Shiemi, she just fainted and she reeks of demon and she’d hurting and- and Ich weiß nicht, was ich machen soll! Papa, ich brauche Hilfe!” [I don’t know what I should do! Papa, I need help!]

Rin sounded like he was close to, if not already, having a panic attack.

“Rin, atme ganz langsam. Tief ein und aus.” [Rin, breathe slowly. Breathe in and out deeply.]

He was already holding onto the right key, throwing in a “class dismissed” while he tried to calm his son. By now Rin was babbling, seemingly only half aware of everything he let Shirou know.

He used the key on the classroom door and passed through the gateway, the phone connection fluctuating for a split second. The Moriyama house stood as impressive as always and Shirou wasted no time entering the shop and passing through it in the living area, following Rin’s instruction to the living room.

Shiemi was lying on the sofa with a soft dark green washcloth covering her forehead, which only made her look even paler. Rin was sitting on the ground across from her, the grasp on his phone so tight that his knuckles were white. Shiemi’s mother was standing next to her daughter, holding a cup from which light blue steam ascended.

“Papa!” Rin called and jumped up as soon as he saw him. “You have to help her, Shiemi-“

“Will be alright,” he assured his son and ruffled Rin through his dark hair.

“Moriyama-san, how long has your daughter been having these cramps?”

“For a few months now… Since my mother’s death. She and Shiemi were so close since I was absent so often. I’ve been treating Shiemi with yarrow tea against the cramps and a variation of saintpaulia for purification. God, this is all my fault, isn’t it? I should have called an exorcist sooner.”

Shirou shook his head.

“Don’t blame yourself for a demon’s actions.”

Moriyama clenched her free hand into a fist.

“So it really is a demon’s doing?”

“Yes, though it isn’t strong yet. Can I examine her legs?”

“Please, if it will help heal her.”

Shirou gently pulled the bandages off Shiemi’s legs, revealing scarring that looked similar to a tree’s roots and appeared to be crawling up her legs until her calves. They were still faint and not too big given how bad he knew those could become, but they’d definitely leave scars once the demon’s energy would leave her.

“I’d suggest taking her to the hospital. She needs to get away from the garden and built up shields that the demon, probably a delkap, has been tearing down. Shiemi isn’t fully possessed yet, so continued treatment with holy water, yarrow and saintpaulia should get rid of the demon easily.”

“Really?” Rin spoke up. “She’ll be alright again?”

Shirou stood up again, ignoring how his back cracked, and nodded.

“Three weeks, maybe four and she’ll be completely healthy and free of any residual energy. Delkaps are usually friendly but weak little buggers and can’t possess somebody if they didn’t get a person’s consent first. Shiemi must have accidentally given her agreement,” Shirou explained.

It wasn’t too unusual. Demons were deceitful and smart enough to choose the right words to trick somebody into giving in. Shiemi’s connection to her garden and therefore to the demons residing within it must be quite strong. Some basic exorcist training could help her… But that was a question for another time.

“We can ask her once she wakes up again. Let’s get her to the hospital first though.”

For now he had to help a girl get back on her feet.

Chapter Text

to dust

to add fine particles, to remove them

Ryuji didn’t know what to think of his classmates – or more precisely he knew exactly what he thought and couldn’t believe it. How could these people attend True Cross and even more importantly exorcist classes?

First of this chaotic bunch was Takara who was just super strange and never paid any attention to class. Never mind his freaky doll.

Then, just across from him, sat Kamiki with her arrogance and holier-than-thou attitude which just pissed Ryuji off. It was beyond unprofessional and while her friend Paku didn’t seem to have a problem with it, he sure did. She was throwing off the whole class with her snarky comments.

Next on Ryuji’s list were the Okumura twins.

Okumura Yukio was alright, even if he sometimes seemed to slip out of their world. It wasn’t that he got sidetracked quickly – his test scores proved that he paid attention to class – but he often stared into space, seemingly unaware of his surroundings while seeing something nobody else could. Nevertheless, Ryuji respected him for his intelligence and his diligence. He worked twice as hard as everybody else in this class, Ryuji himself included, of course.

And all that because Okumura had to pull his own and his brother’s weight. His older brother’s. Honestly, how that guy could be the older one between the two of them Ryuji didn’t know.

Whenever the teacher – the Paladin himself Ryuji still couldn’t believe it – called upon Rin, Yukio answered. The excuse of Yukio simply responding to ‘Okumura-kun’ had stopped working too since Fujimoto-sensei had quitted calling the twins by their last names after the second day and being asked “which one?” one too many times.

Ryuji didn’t understand how neither the Paladin nor Yukio stopped Rin from being such an annoyance. Sure, their teacher scowled disapprovingly and Yukio sometimes shot his brother a glance but that was it! He just got away with it!

The guy often didn’t even turn up on time with his clothes covered in dirt and grass stains and nobody but him apparently cared. Renzo and Koneko told him to just let it be, but Ryuji couldn’t.

He wanted to know what Okumura’s deal was since in other classes with other teachers, Rin was an alright student. Okay, so far they had only had basic P.E. but still. Okumura had acted differently. He’d actually tried to answer the teacher’s questions and put effort into showing off how much faster he was than the rest of them at conquering the obstacle course. The idiot who never participated in anything!

Ryuji had to figure out why.

That was precisely the reason he watched the other teenager closely during their first Tamer lesson. Surprisingly Yukio appeared to be less than thrilled when he was usually so very attentive and interested when a new topic was introduced. Perhaps he didn’t like Tamers? Many exorcists opposed taming as it was seen as working too close with demons.

Rin though seemed to be all in for it, appearing even inpatient and wanting to finally get to the taming part. Seriously, what was wrong with the guy?

Did he just have a grudge against the Paladin or whatever? Ryuji didn’t know how somebody could hate the Paladin when surely he was the most proficient of all exorcists.

Ryuji decided to follow that trail of thought later again and instead focused on class again as Neuhaus began to lecture. Whoever had thought that guy would make a good teacher, must had a screw loose. The man was undoubtedly a professional and a great exorcist, but nobody fit to teach on an emotional level. Or maybe that was just his impression, he’d have to consult one of the older students one of these days.

“I’ll be testing you now to see if you have the talent,” Neuhaus explained. “Drip a bit of your own blood in the circle on the paper I gave you a while ago. Then try to recite the first words that come to your mind.”

Ryuji took his needle and pinched his thumb. Before he could continue though, he was distracted by white smoke.

Two white foxes stood next to Kamiki, who appeared unnecessarily smug about her success.

“That was great, Izumo-chan!” Paku praised her. “I’m really useless at this stuff…”

“Of course, I’m good at it! I am related to a miko after all!”

Ryuji felt like snorting. As far as he knew, hereditary taming skill came from having demon blood somewhere in your family tree and had nothing much to do with what kind of job your ancestor had.

Still, Kamiki had summoned two demons, which was an astonishing feat.

Ryuji stared at his paper, watched his blood color it red. He felt warm but there were no words in particular that came to his mind.

“Dammit, I’ve got no talent,” Ryuji muttered, Renzo following suit as well as Konekomaru.

The rest of the class didn’t seem to have much luck either. Takara was messing around like always and Yukio just handed his brother his unused paper, who pocketed it away.

Rin though hadn’t even tried yet.

I do invocate and conjure thee, O Spirit, eh- uhm what was the rest again?” Okumura trailed off.

Nevertheless, his circle flashed for a second and the next a big green ball was sitting next to Okumura.

“I wasn’t aiming for you,” Okumura mumbled, not loud enough for Neuhaus to pick up on it but Ryuji heard it clearly enough.

Had Okumura actually done this before?

“A high-level hobgoblin,” Neuhaus said, his expression unreadable. “Kin of the Earth King. Impressive, Okumura. I’ll schedule extra lessons for you and Kamiki-kun. The rest of you will continue with the basic classes. Now dismiss the demons by ripping the paper and enjoy your lunch break.”

Kamiki immediately ripped her paper, the two foxes disappearing. Okumura though hesitated.

“Can I keep the goblin around a little bit longer?” He asked Neuhaus, who was already halfway out of the classroom.

“As long as you don’t cause any trouble.”

“Thanks, Sensei!” Okumura exclaimed and held his hand out so that his summon could sniff. For Ryuji, the demon appeared to be almost too curious and calm to be an accidental first time summon. Never mind far too accepting of the whole situation.

Hadn’t Neuhaus talked about the mental strain that came with summoning a demon just barely ten minutes ago?

Where was that mental strain in Okumura, who seemed to be more perplexed at a hobgoblin appearance than having managed to do it in the first place? And where was the demon’s animosity in its almost dog-like behavior?

“Bon, are you done? I wanna eat!” Renzo whined, his words closely followed by a reprimand from Konekomaru.

“Yes, I’m coming.”

Ryuji glanced at Okumura, who was now discussing with his brother in their strange mix of Japanese and German, one last time.

He’d figure Okumura out, it was just a question of time.

Chapter Text

Give out

to provide, to stop because of a lack of supply

As far as Rin was concerned, Behemoth was the coolest demon he’d ever met, excluding Kuro and himself of course. The demon was on the calm side, strange for such a powerful hobgoblin but welcomed since he tolerated Yukio’s presence, going as far as seemingly having no problems with it.

Rin was sitting on his bed, the demon lying to his feet and happily devouring cat food Rin bought at the store after class.

“So, what’s up with him?” Yukio asked, finally done with his homework.

Every time Rin saw the stacks of papers piling up on his brother’s desk, he was glad he had dodged that bullet. Cram school was already enough work and he honestly pitied everyone who came from a civilian background. There was no way you could learn so much about demons without knowing the basics beforehand.

Sure, his father tried to make the lessons very accessible as far as Rin could tell but they were by no means easy for newcomers. Hell, Rin had a hard time keeping up sometimes and half of his early bedtime stories consisted of demon encyclopedias because neither Shirou nor Mephisto knew what acceptable bedtime stories were.

“He said he’s here to keep an eye on us,” Rin answered. “I think he’s doing it on Amaimon’s orders but he’s not the clearest when it comes to language. It’s more pictures and words than actual phrases.”

Yukio frowned, tapping his pencil on the table. “Is that good or bad news? I thought Aniue didn’t want the others to know anything about us.”

Rin shrugged and reached for his phone. “No idea but as long as this little guy doesn’t do anything or Mephisto says something, I’m keeping him.”

Seeing Yukio’s displeased expression, Rin smiled innocently, earning himself a pencil halfheartedly thrown in his direction which he evaded with ease.

“You missed,” Rin stated and pocketed his phone away again. “You wanna come to the library with me?”

Yukio stared at him like Rin had grown a second head. “You want to go where?”

“Zur Bücherei, the school library, the place with all the exorcist books?”

But Yukio’s face didn’t light up at all much to Rin’s annoyance. He wasn’t as much of a crazy bookworm as Yukio, but that didn’t mean he hated reading altogether!

“What do you want there? You were complaining about the school books just thirty minutes ago, saying – and I quote – Ich hasse diesen blöden Mist! Wer zur Hölle liest das freiwillig? Gott, das ist furchtbar!” [I hate this stupid shit. Who the hell reads this out of their free will? God, this is terrible!]

Rin clacked with his tongue. “Well, I wasn’t wrong about it. But that’s not the point. I promised Shiemi I’d pick up her books. She’s gonna start attending cram school next week.”

“So she’s out of the hospital already?” Yukio asked to which Rin hummed.

Rin had visited her every day before cram school in the past week. The first half of the morning he had worked in the garden, tending to the various plants, while afterward he sat with Shiemi and studied for class. Helping her catch up the current subject matters was beneficial for him too. They were starting to leave the basics behind so unfortunately Rin couldn’t just keep taking the tests without preparation and expect to get a half decent grade. Learning together with Shiemi was an excellent repetition, never mind fun too. He’d even dragged Yukio along once, finally introducing the two to each other. He didn’t get to study together with Yukio often these days since Yukio was always so busy. Therefore it had been a pleasant change to the daily grind.

“Yes, finally! She’ll start attending class with us on Monday. I still don’t get why she wants to become an exorcist but if it makes her happy… It’s her decision.”

Rin sighed. He’d honestly prefer it if Shiemi wouldn’t join classes but at least this way she can defend herself against demons next time one decides to possess her.

Not that Rin would ever allow that to happen again.

“Anyway, are you coming with me or not?”

Yukio stood up and craned his neck. He rubbed over first his right shoulder, then his left and stretched his arms. He was definitely studying too much and not doing enough exercise.

“I’m coming with you, just let me grab my key.”

On their way through the school, they encountered some of the older students, this year's graduation class.

Oh, no. If their classes were done for the day that could only mean...

“Rin? Yukio?” Their father asked as soon as he saw them.

He appeared to be even more tired than usual, exhaustion reflecting in his eyes. Nevertheless, he smiled at them, painting a familiar picture for Rin. When Shirou had returned from mission late, way back before they had started living in Japan, and Rin and Yukio were supposed to be sleeping, he had always checked upon them before going to sleep himself. Rin had often pulled his blanket over his head, attempting to look like he hadn't stayed up all night waiting for Shirou and trying to catch a glance of his father. Rin had wanted-no, needed to know if he was alright before he could fall asleep. And then there had always been this exhausted but reassuring smile.

Rin bit the inside of his cheek. So far he had managed to avoid Shirou outside of the classroom but it was only a question of time until his luck would have run out.

He didn’t want to talk to his father, not when he still stumbled with his words and was so quick to lash out again instead of admitting that-

Well, he still had to figure that out too.

"What are the two of you doing here so late?" Shirou asked.

Yukio turned to Rin, certainly expecting him to answer, but he wouldn't. A thousand snarky replies came to his mind, none of which he actually wanted to use.

"We're picking up Shiemi's books for her," Yukio replied, taking over for Rin.

One of these days Rin would make a feast for his brother to repay him for putting up with Rin's antics. Yukio definitely deserved it.

Shirou nodded slowly. "Right, she's starting class on Monday. Is she feeling well enough already?"

"Yeah," Rin breathed. "She's alright again. Still doing the meditation techniques you recommended and she's a fast learner too even if she can't stick to the proper names for all the plants. But it doesn't really matter if she uses her own I think as long as she knows what they are used for, right? And Nii-chan too. That's her summon. He's a greenman. I didn't think she'd want to try out taming too after what had happened but as soon as I mentioned it she wanted to try and that little guy popped up. He's really strong and useful and he even understands these crazy names Shiemi makes up for all those plants and-"

He choked on his haste, unsure of how he should continue. Rin knew how to be angry, he had grown to be quite familiar with the wildfire inside him. Being angry was so easy for him, he just let his rage take control of all his words, every action and all his thoughts.

The problem was more that despite being a master at being angry, Rin always strove for harmony. Discord within his own aggravated him. Whether his fury was deserved or not, and it most certainly was this time, Rin didn't want to be angry.

He didn't want to fight with Shirou.

He was tired of it.

Even if he was absolutely pissed for being pushed into exorcist training, he still wanted to tell his father about his day, about learning with Shiemi and how he had been the past month.

"Rin?" Shirou asked, quite calmly and gently. It was unlike his usually so joyous and enthusiastic voice.

"I hate you," Rin said, though half the sentence got swallowed up by the waver in his voice. "I hate you so, so much," he continued weakly as Shirou stepped closer, slowly pulling Rin and Yukio into a hug as if they were five years old again and scared he wouldn't come back from his mission.

"That's fine."

He wasn't crying. He was a teenager, almost an adult. He didn't need to run to his father every time he was upset.

"I'm not forgiving you."

"You don't have to, Rin," Shirou replied and let go of the two again. Rin hastily wiped over his eyes before staring at the taller man.

"But stop making yourself miserable because of it, alright? I think Yukio would like that too."

Rin shared a look with his brother and guilt rushed through him. He had made the last weeks terrible for Yukio by making him play mediator.

"Truce?" Rin offered and held out his hand.

"Of course," Shirou answered and immediately pulled the two into another bone crushing hug.

Chapter Text

Go

to proceed or succeed, to weaken or fail

It all started with that dumb training camp. That useless, irritating, dangerous training camp. Yukio wasn’t sure what had made the teachers think it would be a great idea to have a group of barely experienced Pages live together in an old abandoned dorm for a week.

It reeked of Mephisto and as much as Yukio loved his older brother, he had a huge respect for Mephisto’s schemes and games and did not want to get even more involved in them, period.

At the start of it, the training camp had been alright. His classmates all got along more or less now so that they could all sit together and study while everyone contributed a bit to the topic.

Yukio was honestly surprised how well they all could work together and perhaps that optimism had been their downfall.

The exact moment that realization had hit him, Sugoru and Kamiki had jumped up, pointing accusingly at each other while beginning a heated debate. Barely a minute later they had started shouting and called each other names.

What was this? Kindergarten?

Not that Yukio would know, he had never attended one, but he imagined a room full of screaming children who couldn’t properly articulate and fought over things like the pronunciation of Latin neither of them got right because of their accents.

And kindergarten, Yukio learned, also featured wonderful experiences such as collective punishments. The bariyon sitting on his lap didn’t do anything to lift Yukio’s mood.

He looked Shiemi, who seemed to be the only one mostly unbothered by the situation. She was calmly talking to Nii, a greenman she had summoned almost three weeks ago and so far hadn’t let go.

Yukio took a deep breath, trying to calm himself.

He’d been irritated all day already for some unfathomable reason. His senses had been running wild since he got up, he felt haunted by an itch he couldn’t get rid of for hours now.

“Could you please stop fighting above me!?” Rin shouted, pulling Yukio back into the present.

Kamiki and Sugoro had started to butt heads again. Their inability to stay clear of each other was truly a miracle.

“Stay out of it, Okumura!” Sugoro snapped when the lights suddenly turned out.

Cursing and girly screams sounded through the now darkened room. Chaos unfolded around Yukio who by now really would do almost everything to be in his room.

More strange tunes followed until the light of a phone display illuminated Shima’s face.

“What’s happening?” He asked while the rest of them also turned their phones on.

“A blackout obviously, dumbass.”

“Charming as always, Kamiki.” Shima looked around, then pointed at the hallway to their right. “The generator is down in the cellar, right? We can go and turn it on again if it’s just this building!”

The terrible feeling from before now hit Yukio at full force, turning from bad into worse. His legs nearly gave out beneath him. He felt like vomiting, like his body was rotting away, decaying-

He needed to get out, out, out!

“Get down!” Rin snarled above the noise and pulled Shima away from the door. It had been a long time since Yukio had heard Rin’s voice taking on such an aggressive and feral tone.

The next moment a naberius broke through the door, standing exactly there where Shima had been just a second ago.

“Nii, I need una-una!” Shiemi called, and huge roots suddenly blocked the naberius’ access to them.

The moaning and screams erupting from the demon’s throat would surely haunt Yukio’s dreams for the next months. It was a disgusting sound, like nails scratching on a blackboard.

The air was getting harder to breathe, it was foul and dirty-

“Breathe.”

Yukio’s view cleared and he found himself staring into blue eyes. There was a weight on his back, keeping him in place.

“Inhale, exhale, just like always. Please keep it together, Yukio.”

Warmth, worry, home. Rin.

“Nii-san, I’m fine. Let go.”

He could feel the other’s around him slowly waking from their shock. Fear and panic had the strongest presence in the room, followed by worry and something Yukio recognized as determination.

So this was what real life combat consisted of.

With Rin’s help, Yukio stood up, using the wall on the right to stabilize himself. This shouldn’t have hit him so hard. He had shields for that. Carefully crafted and powerful mental barriers that were supposed to keep everything out that didn’t belong to him. They weren’t gone, no, but weakened, crumbling still unless he got a grip on himself.

Breathe in.

And out.

Repeat.

By the time he had calmed enough that the nausea wasn’t overwhelming him, the other’s had gotten over the initial shock and were pulling themselves together again.

This situation had escalated too fast and too critically. None of them were ready to actually go against a demon of that level yet, at least not without a teacher. Or superhuman interference.

He shared a look with his brother and found the same resolve in those blue eyes he had discovered in his heart.

If it came down to it, they would fight. No matter the consequences.

Yukio just hoped they could defuse the situation before he’d have to expose his wings. He picked his phone up from the ground, ready to call his father, Shura, anyone competent really.

“There’s a second naberius,” Rin announced, protectively standing in front of Shiemi who was already on her knees.

Sustaining Nii with so much energy was an immense strain on her. Never mind that she hadn't even been going to cram school for long! She wouldn’t be able to keep up this safe barrier for a long time, so they had to get out of here fast.

“What do we do now?” He asked and scowled at his phone. He had no connection so calling for help wouldn’t be possible.

“I can act as bait and lure at least one of them away,” Rin immediately suggested, avoiding looking at Yukio’s face like a professional.

That was an utterly stupid plan. The two of them couldn’t evoke their powers on their own – what was Rin thinking?

“No way!” Sugoro objected. “You alone against one naberius? You’re not even armed!”

“Of course, I’m armed!” Rin replied and pulled out a red marker. Quickly he got to work and drew a circle on the wooden floor, splattering his blood on the ground in the same breath.

“Kuro,” he called, completely ignoring any and all possible invocation he should have done, as smoke rose from the ground in the same way mist crawled out on the fields in the morning.

The summoned cat sídhe stretched and curiously looked around, studying his new surroundings. It was then that his brother’s behavior made sense to Yukio. Rin and his little army of demons Yukio definitely didn’t know about could surely keep the naberius in charge. And if everything failed, there was always Behemoth and everything that came with that particular demon.

The only problem with that plan was that it left Yukio defenseless. He really should have taken his gun with him. That was a mistake he wouldn't repeat.

“There,” Rin continued. “Now I’m armed. Trust me.”

Rin glanced at Yukio.

“Let’s go, Kuro!”

Before anybody could stop him, Rin disappeared together with Kuro, leaving them behind and taking one of their enemies with him.

Next time Yukio would run away and see how Rin liked being left alone in a situation like this.

“We’re all going to die,” Shima whined and dropped his head in defeat. “First Rin gets eaten by naberius number one and then the rest of us by naberius number two.”

His comment earned him Suguro glaring at him and effectively shutting him up with it.

Even if Shima’s comment wasn’t helpful, he wasn’t exactly off with his assessment given his knowledge.

Their means of defense were limited and had they even covered ghouls in class before? Yukio’s knowledge of them was sketchy, he hadn’t really researched them previously. It was his own fault though, he didn’t like kin of Rot. They were the complete opposite of all demons he had spent his time around growing up. It really was no wonder he’d been feeling unwell all day if the naberius had been around.

How had they gotten through the wards though? Aniue prided himself on his indestructible barriers. This reeked of foul play.

“I’d rather not get killed by a naberius. And damn Okumura for taking off alone. The worst thing he could have done really… Couldn’t you have stopped him?”

It took Yukio a moment to realize Suguro was talking to him. “I’m not my brother’s keeper.”

Even if the seals binding them together probably disagreed.

The other teenager balled his fists, emitting frustration in waves. “I know, I’m sorry, that was uncalled for.”

Yukio nodded and turned towards Shiemi. “My brother aside… How do we deal with the demon in front of us? Shiemi won’t hold out much longer. We need a plan.”

“Don’t worry about me. I can do it!” Shiemi assured him but her pale face spoke of something completely different.

“You’ve already done more than enough,” Suguro said. “We could try to exorcise it through a recitation. I know a ghoul’s fatal verse is in the gospel of John. I know it by heart – more or less. If I keep going, I should reach the right verse sooner or later.”

“You want to do all twenty chapters by yourself!?” Shima exclaimed.

“Twenty-one chapters, actually,” Miwa corrected. “And I know the first ten. I can help you out!”

The next moment they were already splitting up the chapters and getting ready to start reciting. Yukio once again wished he had his guns so he could actually do something to help

“Wait a moment!” Kamiki interrupted them hotly. “Aren’t you forgetting something? The moment you start, the ghoul will try even harder to get to us!”

It wasn't that they had forgotten about it, but they were all becoming desperate, Yukio thought. Nevertheless, Kamiki was right. They’d have to act fast if they didn’t want to get attacked.

“So what!?” Suguro shouted, fueling the aggression in the air. “Moriyama can’t hold out much longer and we have to do something!”

“This is suicide!”

“Well, we won’t know until we try, right?”

All heads turned towards Shima who was now smiling way too cheerful. Fake, his whole expression screamed. Nevertheless, he scratched the back of his head and shrugged innocently as if nothing was wrong.

“And if anything happens I still have this.”

He pulled a golden k’rik seemingly out of nowhere and pointed it at the wooden blockade in front of them. Did he have a seal like Shura that allowed him to keep his weapon? That was way too high level for a page, even if he came from a family of exorcists. Rin had begged Shura to teach him how to make such a seal ever since he saw her use her sword and she had denied him every time.

“Where did you get that?” Miwa asked.

Yukio frowned. Shouldn’t he know about that as his childhood friend?

Shima shrugged. “Family heirloom. Now, are you going to start chanting or not?”

Miwa and Suguro sat down and began reciting while Kamiki took out two blank sheets of paper and picked up Rin’s red marker.

“You’re all crazy,” she hissed but began to draw up circles either way.