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[personal profile] foxysquidalso
Title: Father & Son
Characters: Kirei, Risei
Word count: 1,320
Rating: PG
Warnings: Some metaphorical blood imagery? Ha ha, nothing much.
Summary: Risei Kotomine is proud of his son. Mistakenly.
Notes: Set at the beginning of F/Z; no spoilers. Also, I am not responsible for F/Z's version of the Roman Catholic Church.

Turin was a city that boasted of many wonders, artistic and architectural, and another man might have taken the time to visit its piazzas and palazzos before leaving. As a member of the Assembly of the Eighth Sacrament, he might have asked for special permission to view the shroud that the city had given a home, as well as the use of its name. Another man might have, but not Kirei. He made no plans for the brief remainder of his time in Turin, sought no sights to see. He stood at the window of the room where he was staying, but he did not admire the view. He barely registered it. The sunset turned the sky orange and gold, a soft background for the stark spire of the Mole Antonelliana, which rose above Turin like a needle piercing heaven.

Today, the back of his hand was of greater interest to him than all the cities and citadels of Italy. The swirling red sigils that had appeared there, of which there were three, held his attention due to their unusual nature as well as the large impact they had already had on his life. He had been whisked away to Turin immediately after their appearance yesterday, and after that, had shortly been informed that he had been transferred from the Holy Church to the Magi's Association. All in a day's time, and all because of these unnatural blemishes.

Each mark on his skin was a spell. They felt smooth to the touch, and their edges were sharp and distinct. Kirei studied the grouping of them as he might a psychologist's inkblot, trying to find meaning in the abstract shapes. He saw whirling darkness; he saw flames; he saw a drop of blood. No, it was a spray of blood, then a spreading pool. There was the branch of a dead tree. Was that rippling line a banner or a flowing stream? So many possibilities. It could be that the shape of the marks was random and meaningless, but he had noticed that his were rather different from those of Tokiomi Tohsaka, which he had glimpsed on the man's hand during their conversation. Tohsaka's, though just as red, had been rounded, regular, smooth. Tohsaka was a man like that: rational, dignified, and self-assured.

"There's nothing," he said, his eyes tracing the line of those shapes again and again. "They don't mean anything." Was he trying to convince himself? He closed his eyes, but he could not escape those shapes. It was too late. He had committed them to memory, burned them into his mind's eye. He would not lose sight of them again. He would remember them after they faded from his hand. He wondered, when this Grail War was over, what would he do? Would he be allowed to return to the Holy Church after receiving the stain of the magi? He assumed the Church would welcome him back into the fold, as he was learning magecraft at the Church's behest. Surely he would be absolved of the impiety if it were his duty. Yes, when this "war" was over, he would return, and things would once again be much as they were now. So he assured himself, but only part of him believed his own assurances.


At the sound of this familiar voice, he reopened his eyes.

"I don't mean to interrupt your prayers," his father said, as usual assuming that his silent contemplation involved a conversation with God, rather than with himself. Kirei's direct communication with the deity he still believed in had grown increasingly more infrequent as the years had passed, as he'd come to realize that God's holy love was not going to save or transform him. He still had hope, but it was fading.

He did not correct his father, allowing Risei to make and keep the assumption that pleased him. This, too, was usual. "I'm so proud of you, Kirei," Risei said. "Your humility and obeisance would make any father glad."

"Thank you, Father."

"It may be difficult to truly grasp at a time like this," Risei continued, "but hardship is a great teacher. It makes us stronger, wiser."

Kirei knew his father was not referring, now, to the unexpected and not entirely enjoyable task of leaving the Church and training as a magus. "I know."

The old man's face softened, his eyes glistening with sympathy. "It can be no coincidence that you were chosen for this task so soon after that tragic event."

It had been four days, now, since Kirei's wife had died. "God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform," said Kirei, quietly and decorously. Not a particularly expansive statement, but his father did not expect him to have much to say. Kirei had never been a man of superfluous words, and how easy it was, to allow Risei to find in that dearth whatever he wished to find.

"How good that we see things the same way," said Risei. "Your great work will heal your grief. We'll tread that path together." Not for the first time, Kirei was struck by the fact that his father, otherwise a canny and observant man, once again had failed to notice the great difference between them. From where Kirei stood, he saw a vast gap, a yawning chasm separating him from his faithful, confident father. His father failed to see his lack of passion, pleasure, and purpose; and currently, his lack of grief. Kirei had wept for his wife, but when he tried to picture her now, a mere four days later, he saw a vision of a dim, faceless form. He felt nothing, or nothing he could name. If it were something, he did not want to name it, so he shied away from it, labeled it nothing instead. Emptiness. He would not move closer to analyze the void more closely. When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks into you, and that was what he wanted to avoid. He did not need to know what it was. Instead, he would continue to do penance for the sin of his own nature, his deficiency.

They had told him that the Grail picked those with a great need, or wish. Why had it picked him, a godforsaken man without desire? Let alone the fact that he was a priest being chosen to fight in a war between magi. The explanation his father and Tohsaka had chosen to believe, that he had been selected specifically to aid Tohsaka and the Church, was too facile for his taste. It might have convinced them, but he remained unsure.

Why would a mystical object that specifically chose those with zeal, ambition and the need for its power select a man like him? It granted wishes, so what use would it have for a man with no wish? As his selection defied all logic, it was a mystery, and one his father had obviously decided to ignore. Should he join him in ignoring it, forget that there were other possibilities? Kirei imagined he could find the solution to this mystery, if he looked in the right place, yet part of him did not want to perform that search, or to find the answer.

Or was that what he desired, even as he drew away from it--the answer itself?

His father was regarding him fondly, a smile narrowing his eyes. Forgive me, Father. I am not the man you think I am, prayed Kirei silently, not to God, but to the mortal man standing before him.

"God has given you a gift," Risei said.

Kirei nodded, but in his eyes, there was no agreement with the statement. They were blank. On his hand, there was inscribed a jagged line, a fountain of blood. His father, in blindness or in love, or both, did not notice.
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August 2012


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