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Fate/Reach Out (F/SN + SMT: P4 crossover story thread)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Kishou the Badger, Dec 25, 2012.

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  1. Kishou the Badger

    Kishou the Badger Writer Extraordinaire

    Old discussion thread that led up to this is back here.

    A/N: Just in time for Christmas (though too late for Hanukkah and too early for Kwanzaa, sadly), the story has reach full bloom... sorta. Thanks for the help of Nameless_Flame with his slow but steady beta work plus collaboration, the first five chapters of Fate/Reach Out are ready for reading at the start of this thread. This also goes out to all the readers and spacebattlers that offered their feedback since October in story brewing and criticisms. Couldn't have done it without any of you, so thanks again, and Merry Christmas (as the time of this thread was created).

    Fate/Reach Out

    Chapter 1

    September 2010, Homurahara High School

    Taiga Fujimura was many things: she was a teacher of English composition and could be counted on to arrive late to her class each morning. She was a woman in her mid-twenties but insisted (and acted) that she was younger than that. She was a feminine and outgoing person and hated being considered otherwise. She was the granddaughter of a yakuza lord and never had to worry about traveling alone at night. She was a champion at kendo and wielded her lucky kendo blade, Torashinai, which for some reason scared everyone whenever she carried it, even going so far as to call it “cursed.” She had many nicknames such as “human jet coaster,” “yakuza princess,” and her most infamous and unfeminine one, “tiger.”

    Taiga was all of these things, but she was also an observant older sister even when she didn’t act like it. So, while she was rinsing herself in the ladies’ restroom at her school during a quiet September morning, she thought long about what she had noticed.

    She had been close with her student, Shirou Emiya, for nearly a decade…

    -Not that way though! More like siblings!

    Anyway, since she knew him for so long, she could read a good number of Shirou’s social cues and ticks. She could tell when he was angry, when he was happy, but most of all, when he was sad.

    The first two were easy to read. He always had a short temper and used to get into fights with bullies when he was younger. He also tended to have a big smile on his face whenever he finished a hard maintenance job, or when he was thanked for doing said job.

    As for his sadness, that was far more obscure, and she almost missed it at times, but after a while she began to detect a pattern. It started roughly five years ago; around the time his adoptive father, Kiritsugu Emiya, died.

    Her grandfather personally knew Kiritsugu, though he never stated the specifics of their meeting or friendship. She was fond of the older man though, more like a crush and had often come over to see him while she was still in high school. He in turn allowed her to visit, eat with them, and basically be the sister figure/baby sitter for Shirou whenever he left on his world travels. She was more engrossed in spending time with Kiritsugu at the time, but she recalled that while growing up, Shirou was an excitable and carefree child that had a thing for sports like kendo and archery. He never did win a match against her, but it was all in good fun for both of them.

    Then Kiritsugu died. It wasn’t a car crash or gunshot or old age, it just sort of happened without explanation. He passed away while sitting on his porch one night with a melancholy smile. The only people that knew about it were her grandfather’s yakuza branch and, of course, Shirou. He was never quite the same after that night.

    He refused to stay after school for things other than ‘helping out.’ He would work hours at part time jobs just to make ends meet. As long as she and her grandfather had anything to say about that, there was no need for Shirou to work at his age just to cover his living expenses, but the boy wouldn’t ease up no matter how many times they told him. Even when he had free time, Shirou would spend hours at end in his shed fixing old appliances, only coming out for school or to cook meals.

    He had a small handful of friends, but even then he didn’t go out and see them outside of school and work. He would even let himself be strung along by his friends Issei and Shinji unconditionally to take up random maintenance chores. Students his age should be partying with other guys, trying to date girls and finding more ways to enjoy themselves, not tinkering with tools and odd jobs day in and day out!

    The worst part from Taiga’s perspective was that Shirou himself didn’t seem aware of any of this. He would just distract himself with his work, his studies, or by fixing things. Whenever he did come into the house for food, he would pass something like a photo of Kiritsugu or the spot on the porch they both sat before he died. Every time he would pause and frown, if only briefly, and then resume what he was doing as if nothing had happened.

    He was still coping with the loss of his father. Or rather now that she thought about it, the loss of his family.

    It never occurred to Taiga before how much Shirou must have been hurting until now. He was saved and adopted by his step-father, and the two were as close as any father and son of real blood. But now Shirou was alone again, experiencing the loss of family twice, even if he couldn’t remember his biological parents.

    Taiga and Shirou’s junior high school friend, Sakura Matou, came by every day, at least for breakfast and dinner, and helped with the household chores like they lived there, but at the end of the day only Shirou slept there. They were all close, sort of like siblings, but it wasn’t the same.

    Okay, so she just sat and watched as Sakura and Shirou did the cleaning and ate their food because it was delicious and free, but that was beside the point!

    Shirou needed familial connections, legit ones. Like a mother or another father, or even a younger sibling to take care of. The only problem was that both of his birth parents died when Shinto burned down and he had no recollection of who he was prior. It was Kiritsugu who gave him the name Shirou Emiya and he had embraced it. If he had any still living relatives, they wouldn’t know if he was alive at all.

    Still… there had to be someone out there that knew his birth parents, maybe even Kiritsugu, out there, right? The trick would be to find them.

    Before he died, Kiritsugu entrusted her to watch over his son. She’d be damned before she failed to live up that promise in any way she could.

    “Leave it to me, Kiritsugu,” she smiled to the mirror. “Shirou’ll be happy again before you know it!”

    It was at that time the morning bell to class rang throughout the building. The calm before the storm…

    “-I’mlateI’mlateI’mlateI’mlateI’MLATEI’MLATEI’MLATEI’MLATE-!”

    To anyone in the hallway at that time, they would see a frantic brown-haired teacher with a tiger striped shirt under a light green dress bolt out of the restroom and kick up dust in a mad beeline dash to her classroom. Her speed was said to rival a bullet train that day.

    ???

    “So this is where you’ve been hiding.”

    “More like lodging. You’d be surprised how spacious and homey this ‘Grail’ thing is."

    “This is not what we agreed upon.”

    “As usual, I can’t take all the blame: I act on the wishes of mankind, after all. A little over a decade ago, this thing happened to be stirring and made a wish to bring together all the evils in the world. It was subtle at first, but as the days went on, it would grow exponentially stronger and louder, as if begging to be realized. So I thought, ‘what else could I do but answer that request?’ And… here we are. While the wish interfered with my banishment, it didn’t outright violate it either… though to be honest, I didn’t struggle a whole lot out of it.”

    “And yet you caused the fire ten years ago.”

    “Guilty as charged, but again, I was merely working on one of mankind’s truest wishes. I AM the Holy Grail now, for all intents and purposes. Or rather, I’m Holy Grail number 726, but you get the idea. I’m to create an all-powerful wish to one of seven magi. Of course, why just settle with one wish when I can grant ALL of them? Free of charge, no less!”

    “…It appears our war game is once again in motion, then.”

    “You could say that, but we’re playing by a new set of rules now, one set by the humans no less! I’m sure Servants could count as Persona as well for our purposes, just more human than a projection of the human heart.”

    “Which reminds me: that boy there, one of your contestants for your next war... I wish to borrow him.”

    “…That one? Eh, feel free. Perhaps having your gift bag thrown in will make this war more interesting.”

    “You misunderstand: he is needed elsewhere, and I want you to postpone your war game until after his business there is complete.”

    “Asking for favors, eh? What’s so important about him, anyway? Any other kid should do just fine, especially a mute one.”

    “There is another game brewing in a small rural town. This one is not unlike Tatsumi Port Island a few years prior. This boy has a personal connection to that town even if he doesn’t know it yet."

    “Sounds more like you’re stealing and condemning the brat like that last one who fought Nyx. Afraid I can’t allow that: the boy already has a death sentence here, and having him killed over there would be no fun. Neither is acting like a living seal for all eternity."

    “What if I can assure you he’ll not only survive, but be able to partake in your game afterwards at a higher level? What if I can prove that his potential can exceed that of what is thought impossible, even amongst magi?”

    “Ooooh? Another wager, is it? Name your terms, then.”

    “The boy is to be escorted to Yasoinaba for one full school year, up to the spring of 2012. His power, growth, and decisions will be overseen by the gods of fog, where they may or may not serve as the crucial factor to Inaba’s fate. Should he succeed, he will be more than certified as a contestant in your war and return to Fuyuki.”

    “Interesting… And if he fails?”

    "The turning point of his arrival would be removed, and he would continue life unaware of his previous actions. In turn, you would still have your contestant and be free to act on this war regardless of his success or failure.”

    “…heheheheh. Hehehehehehe! Hahahahaha! HOOHAHAHAHAHA!! You certainly know how to make things interesting! Very well, I accept your terms.”
     
    Koden, TheQuote, Lilithium and 15 others like this.
  2. Kamille-Aznable

    Kamille-Aznable Happi~, Ureppi~, Yoropiku ne~!

    This should be good.
     
  3. Kishou the Badger

    Kishou the Badger Writer Extraordinaire

    Chapter 2

    December 2010, Warehouse

    “…and that crosses out the Sakatori family, too.” Taiga frowned before setting aside another folder on a pile to her left. While a moderately tall stack, it paled in comparison to the box full of files to her right that she reached into, and she pulled out another one to skim through. It was one of a thousand such boxes cluttered all throughout the building.

    “Taiga,” one of her grandfather’s men called from his own pile across the room. “Maybe we should take a break?”

    He and three others were rummaging through all past records of Shinto up to the fire, from the family records to the hotels to the citizen identifications. One of the pros of having connections with the yakuza was that there were no limits on how to get information. However, unlike the yakuza princess, they weren’t as skilled at speed-reading as she was. They were hired by her grandfather for their muscle, intimidating looks and to have more gun hands. All four of them would rather face a gang war than be forced to read any day.

    Taiga leveled a fierce scowl at them and they all winced. “You already had your break five minutes ago! Keep looking!”

    “But it’s impossible!” another whined. “We’ll never find anything on Shirou’s family!”

    “So you just want to give up on finding who his parents are and maybe figuring out if he has living relatives at all?!”

    “Of course not! Shirou’s like family to us too! Isn’t that enough?”

    Taiga sighed. “I wish it was…”

    “It’s been months since we’ve started, though,” one of the thugs reasoned. “It’ll take years to go through all the people that died in that fire and who they were related to, and even then we might not find anything. Some records could have been burned away too.”

    Taiga considered this fact bitterly. The fire ten years ago still left its mark in the new central park. No one went near it because the atmosphere around it was just suffocating, like it was still haunted by the event. Central Shinto was gutted, and the fire took hundreds of lives. That Shirou survived in the middle of it all was nothing short of a miracle, really. Kiritsugu used to imply that much as well.

    “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!” she huffed while paging through another file, hoping to find something about a son or a picture that looked like Shirou. No such luck.

    “All I’m saying is that we might not-“

    “We will find something!” she snapped. “Uncle, grandpa, twice removed cousin, evil twin, WHATEVER! He’s just got to have more family members than his deceased parents, everyone does! And the sooner we find something on Shirou’s past, the sooner we can solve that mystery!”

    The men wisely kept quiet as they continued their search, moving all the piles of folders and documents to one side of the room as they continued going through the rest. The process continued as it had the previous times: the men would leave first, being mentally unenthusiastic and drained from the thirty or so files they each dug through, while Taiga would stay behind and try to read one file after another hoping something would come up. They would also tell her not to make a mess of the place, but she ignored them.

    Eventually, even the Tiger of Fuyuki’s seemingly unbreakable spirit faltered from the constant failure. No matter how many files she poured through, not so much as a single clue that didn’t end in the words ‘confirmed deceased.’ “Argggh!” with a frustrated growl, she tossed aside her 139th file into the air, disregarding the scattering sheets of paper falling out around her. She fell down to the floor on her back, starring at the ceiling lights listlessly.

    A part of her wanted to give up and cut her losses, maybe even admit that this was a waste of time. She was starting to slip behind in grading her students, losing hours of sleep and even Shirou, bless his dense soul, was beginning to suspect she was doing something haphazard to her health. But another part, which kept her going through the last few months since her decision, wanted nothing more than to make Shirou happy again and not end up some emotionless robot.

    “Oh, God,” she sighed, raising her hands up in questioning. She wanted something, anything, to prove Shirou really wasn’t alone in the world. “Give me a sign…”

    “Do you search for truth?”

    Taiga snapped back up, looking around to where the voice came from. “Eh?”

    “Then you must reach for it.”

    Fully alert, Taiga stood up and looked for where the voice had come from. It didn’t sound like any of her grandfather’s regular flunkies, and she assumed everyone else had gone home already. Her eyes caught sight of a sparkling blue light dancing in a corner of the warehouse. Curious, she slowly walked towards it, stepping over and around any boxes and containers of still untouched material as if in a trance. The light danced further away like a fish lure, tempting the young woman to venture further into the building.

    Taiga continued to stare as she finally got close to the light. It was a glowing blue and white butterfly, no bigger than any other of its kind, yet the way it flew was slow and deliberate… almost majestic actually. It was as if the blue butterfly was leading her to what she was looking for.

    When she started her search, Taiga’s plan was to scan through the files in the front of the warehouse and work her way deeper into the warehouse. So far only a fraction of it was done, and it was simply overwhelming to continue forward for everyone involved. The chance of anyone finding anything on Shirou’s past within the back was just as likely as it was in the front. It was for that reason Raiga suggested a slow and steady approach despite his granddaughter’s eagerness.

    And here she was, following some blue butterfly through a warehouse as if expecting an answer. Just as she was questioning the ridiculousness of it all, the butterfly landed on a specific folder sticking slightly outward in the middle of a particularly towering stack. She paused and waited to see if the butterfly would move, but it stayed there for three whole minutes, lightly fanning its wings. Taiga edged closer, wary of scaring it off after it took her this far. She now stood in front of the stack, reaching for the butterfly tentatively.

    It fluttered off just before her fingers brushed its shining wings, somehow faster than she thought possible. Following its path, she saw the butterfly fly straight towards the moon peeking through the window above and seemingly disappear from her sight like a mirage. Taiga craned her head all about, but couldn’t make out where the blue butterfly could have gone.

    Deciding that it was long gone, she turned back to where it had landed prior. It seemed too strange, led by some blue bug to a specific spot in the warehouse, to a specific folder among all the other piles. Not to mention that weird voice. What was that again about ‘truth?’ There were too many coincidences and not enough convenient explanations.

    ‘Then again, I did ask for a sign,’ she mentally chuckled. At this point, Taiga Fujimura would take anything she could get.

    Shrugging to herself, Taiga took a chance and almost hesitantly, she plucked out the file… just before realizing she caused a tower of information to topple onto her. She briefly glanced up to said teetering tower and comically screamed.

    “GWAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

    A wave of paper sheets, boxes, and folders swallowed her whole. The tower continued to fall even beyond where she stood, papers spreading out thin and wide on the floor while boxes floated on top them like small boats. A few moments passed, and the energetic woman flailed her way out from under the pile with a strangled gasp. Luckily she didn’t lose or drop the folder she pulled out, or she might never have found it again from the mess she had just made.

    “Stupid butterfly!” she yelled. “Had to get me to pick some random folder out of everything else?!” Annoyed, she slapped the flap open and skimmed through the pages. “I bet this doesn’t have anything either, just ano…ther…“

    She stopped mid-rant, features morphing from rage to shock. In disbelief, she flipped through the contents more deftly and thoroughly. Against all odds, it was right here in her hand.

    She had found it.

    Proof of Shirou’s birth family.

    December 20, 2010

    The following few weeks since that fateful night were nearly a blur to Taiga, but she was so engrossed in her search that she barely noticed.

    The file she found was on the Narukami family. Seta and Miya Narukami were hard-working graduates in business and finance, known for traveling abroad constantly to different branches of their company: Harwey Enterprises, a family owned and run corporation with a lot of power in the western half of Europe, and a heavy taste for the medieval lore of knights and chivalry. Their job at the time was to try and help expand the Shinto district. They had brought their son along to live with them after the project was complete.

    A fat lot of good that did them; they were among the five hundred or so people killed when the fire broke out a decade ago.

    She would have discredited the folder as just another dead end if it weren’t for a family photo that she was staring at. Three people gazed back at her: Seta, Miya and their son. The father was tall and dressed in a light gray suit, topped with light red hair and thin-framed glasses. His wife wore business clothes as well, but also had a coat over her shoulders offered by her husband behind her. Held lovingly in her arms and sitting on her lap was a little bundle of joy. The little boy was wearing a green jacket and jeans, had bright brown eyes and topped with bright red hair of a familiar shade.

    She had found the late family of Shirou Emiya. And they had never looked so happy. It both relieved and depressed Taiga beyond measure, but she still had work to do.

    After finding the family name, it was a simple matter of looking into connections or relatives of either parent. She tried phoning Harwey Enterprises first about the couple, but it turned out to be a long dull process of playing phone tag with the various offices and automated operators. When she had finally gone over all their hurdles and redirected calls, all they said was: “We’re sorry, but the person or persons you are trying to call is not registered in our databanks. If you wish to try again, press 1.”

    So much for chivalry. The whole process was enough to make Taiga want to pull her hair out. She slammed the phone and went to Plan B.

    Luckily, the folder also included a copy of Shirou’s birth certificate under the name of Yu Narukami. Records said he was missing and presumed dead along with his parents, but Kiritsugu had saved a boy with no memory of his past life. Because of the certificate, she was able to get Miya’s maiden name: Dojima.

    Using her connections with the yakuza (which was mostly her begging to her grandfather like any toddler would) she started an underground search for anything on the Narukami and Dojima families (She would have tried for Emiya as well, but her grandfather had assured her that Kiritsugu had no living relatives). After that it was just the waiting game and going on with daily life pretending like nothing was happening. On the outside, she was still the overly energetic teacher people loved to tease but feared to anger. On the inside, she was constantly forcing herself to be distracted else she check up on the others and hear them say various grunts and refusals all meaning “No.”

    She was starting to understand Shirou’s habit of staying busy. Any time she was simply waiting with nothing to do was driving her insane!

    But again, between the seemingly endless hours of worry and anxiety, it was hard to keep her real feelings in check. At least she was starting to go to sleep on time… minus the tossing and turning.

    Just as she was starting to assume the worst, Raiga called her over and shared what his men had found. It took Taiga five minutes before she pulled herself away from hugging her grandfather, and another five before she finally managed to stop crying. She couldn’t help but laugh a bit with her grandfather from the irony of their search once it set in, though.

    Seriously, it’s usually the cops finding a yakuza, not the other way around!

    The next few days were just planning now: planning what to say to Shirou, to Ryotaro Dojima, and how to arrange for their meeting. She wasn’t exactly sure how Shirou would react to this; there was an equal chance of it being good or bad.

    Dinner was becoming increasingly tense for all parties present. Shirou wasn’t one to initiate conversation at dinner most nights, and Sakura was a shy person by nature. Taiga was usually the one bringing the discussion and energy to the table during their shared meals, but now she always looked deep in thought and increasingly frustrated. It was becoming apparent to both students that Taiga was hiding something and they were starting to feel uneasy. Taiga being quiet and contemplative was not normal.

    It all came to a head one breakfast at the Emiya household. “Uh, Fuji-nee?” Shirou started a touch nervously. “Are you alright?”

    “Never better,” Taiga quickly blurted out, taking a few bites of the food in front of her. The lobster was well cooked and presented, served with a side of fried rice and miso soup. Most would never see such an extravagant meal outside of an expensive, fancy restaurant, but here it was just another handmade dish by her little brother figure. “Delicious as always, Shirou.”

    Both students glanced at each other. Taiga usually could tell who cooked just by taste. “Actually, Fujimura-sensei,” the purple haired girl murmured shyly, “I made dinner.”

    Taiga blinked. “Oh! I’m impressed, Sakura. You’ve come a long way.” The English teacher could still remember when the Matou girl made daily visits to the house a year and a half ago. She came by originally to help around the house cook while Shirou recovered from a shoulder injury. Sakura had become a regular part of the “family” ever since.

    Between cooking, cleaning and laundry, Sakura would make a great housewife one day. She obviously had her eye on Shirou, and the attraction seemed to be mutual at least to an extent. Taiga would even catch the boy looking away from the plum-haired maiden suddenly from time, probably embarrassed by her beauty a few times before. It made plenty of sense: on top of physically blossoming into gorgeous young woman, Sakura had started smiling more and opening up over the time she had started regularly visiting. Taiga said nothing though. The two of them were either too shy or too humble to really pursue a relationship. Frankly, what Shirou needed in his life most was storge, not eros.

    “Fuji-nee,” Shirou tried again, “you said those exact words the other day too. And you’re eating faster than you usually do.”

    “It’s just that good!” Taiga reasoned. She loved meal time at the Emiya household, since it was delicious and free. But she was still trying to figure out how to best explain her findings. She wanted to do it when they were alone, but he’s always at work, school, or cooking with Sakura. Kiritsugu was still a sensitive topic after all, and bringing it up at the dining table would kill the mood on the spot.

    “Fujimura-sensei, please,” Sakura reasoned. “We just want to help.”

    “I told you I’m fine!”

    “Fuji-nee-“

    Taiga glared; this was getting ridiculous. “Don’t make me get my shinai out again!” If people feared her practice sword for whatever reason, she might as well exploit it whenever she could. Both students flinched at the threat, especially Shirou. The two of them exchanged nervous glances and almost relented to her demand.

    But Taiga had been wrestling with her conscience ever since she had started the search. By now she was dangerously close to the breaking point. Shirou’s innocent probing and his now slightly hurt expression just happened to push her over the edge.

    “GAAAAAAAAAH!” she suddenly screamed and threw her hands up, further worrying her students. They wondered if it really was better not to have asked!

    And then, like a deflating balloon, Taiga seemed to collapse, slumping over the table. “I give up! I can’t hold it in any longer! I keep trying and trying to put it off, thinking of what to say, but damn it it’s hard!” Taiga then looked square at Shirou with an intensity in her expression she rarely showed. “That’s it! I’m just gonna say it now!”

    She stood up from the table, pointing at the red-haired teen. “Listen Shirou, what I’m going to say tonight is very important, and I worked my ass off just to find this information! I understand you have a lot of questions as I get into this, but you are to remain silent until your teacher finishes her lecture! Is that understood!?”

    Shirou just sat and stared at her, unsure what to think. All he could manage was the obvious question. “What are you talking about?”

    Taiga took a soft, calming breath and then smiled slightly. “Let’s just say I found you an early Christmas present.” She then reached into her dress pocket and pulled out a photo, the one she found in the folder weeks ago. “I found your family!”
     
  4. Kishou the Badger

    Kishou the Badger Writer Extraordinaire

    Chapter 3
    “I found your family!”

    Those four words kept repeating in Shirou’s mind like a broken record, the rest of the world suddenly irrelevant. He just sat and stared at the photo like a deer in headlights.

    Family? He had family?

    That word was so foreign to him… all he could remember was Kiritsugu saving him from the fire and adopting him. His fondest memories were spending time with him and vowing to follow his father’s dream of being an ally of justice, someone who saves others from harm no matter what.

    But this…

    Who were those two people in the photo holding him? Was that even him sitting on the woman’s lap? He couldn’t recall anything of that earlier life, yet the picture drew him in all the same… but why? It wasn’t as though he saw the picture and knew these people where his parents or anything like that; the fire had stolen even that tiny surety. But… he couldn’t bring himself to disregard the image it presented. Maybe they were his birth parents, but what did this all mean?

    Were they still alive? Did he worry them? Did they hold a funeral? Were they close? If so, how close?

    Taiga’s next hesitant words broke him from the confused maelstrom of questions for a moment. “I, uh… I’m sure you know that they’ve been long since recorded deceased because of the fire. You were the only survivor in that event, after all.”

    Yes, he figured as much. Shirou instinctively knew his family was gone when he woke up that day in the hospital. Why would Fuji-nee show him that picture though if the memory was pointless now?

    At least he thought it would be pointless, but he did feel a strange sensation of closure hearing this and seeing the picture still in Taiga’s hand. He had a family. He wasn’t completely alone. That was good… right?

    That still didn’t explain why she dug this up now, of all times. Nor did it explain how she even found out any of this or when… or answer any of the thousand questions barreling through his head.

    “But I got some good news!” Taiga quickly added. “This folder I found on your family included this picture and a copy of your birth certificate! Your closet living relatives happen to be your uncle, Ryotaro Dojima and his daughter Nanako.”

    Relatives? Did they think he was dead too? Should he even bother talking to them after all this time? What could he say? How would they react? What were they like? Where did they live?

    And, again, why was she telling him this now?

    “It wasn’t easy you know, getting all this! I had to ask my grandfather for a… a favor.” No one in school save for Shirou knew that his hyperactive teacher was really a yakuza lord’s granddaughter, so she was leaving it vague for Sakura’s sake. Shirou was able to pick up that subtle hint and let the matter drop there. “Luck would have it that they caught wind of a detective Dojima in Inaba solving a murder case! Sounds cool, huh? He’s a local hero, just like Kiritsugu!”

    No, Ryutaro Dojima and Kiritsugu Emiya were vastly different, even if Shirou had never met the other man. Dojima was an ordinary policeman that acted as a public ally of justice, not unlike the criminal dramas he’s seen from time to time. Kiritsugu was secretive about his past, and seemed to imply he avoided the spotlight concerning his actions. However, there was no doubt in Shirou’s mind that the things Kiritsugu did were of far greater scale than any ordinary cop did. But the man was a magus, and Taiga or Sakura didn’t need to know that.

    “Inaba isn’t that bad of a place either; real rural country town, lots of scenery, a hot spring inn, and a new Junes department store just opened there recently. Doesn’t get a lot of tourism, but from what I read, it sure sounds homey!” Taiga was rambling now. Her wild gestures only filled Shirou with confusion as she continued to lay out the virtues of small-town living.

    She stopped for dramatic effect… or looking earnestly thoughtful of what to say next, judging by her sidelong glance and the hand stroking her chin. “Well, uh… that’s the end of my lecture I suppose! Any questions?”

    Both students continued to stare, understandably confused. Sakura recovered first, turning to Shirou with a growing smile. “I-isn’t this great, senpai? You have living relatives to your birth family!”

    Shirou hesitantly reached out and took the photo from Taiga’s hand. His eyes never left it during her speech. “Do they know?” he asked. His fingers traced the surface of the photo, over the smiling faces of the man and woman kept alive in a wrinkled, forgotten image. “That I’m…”

    “Well… no,” she admitted. “Not yet. I was thinking hearing from you first instead of me would have been a good first step.”

    “How?” Shirou asked.

    Taiga reached for her dress pocket again, this time producing a small slip of paper with a string of numbers written on it. “Give them a call, silly!”

    “A call?” Shirou parroted. The very idea of contacting these… related strangers… was less tempting and more frankly terrifying. What if they didn’t care about him? What if they had forgotten he was their relative? What if Dojima didn’t know what he looked like? Would he even be able to feel anything for them?

    Come to think of it, he didn’t even know what his uncle and cousin looked like either! “Do you have a picture of them too? Of the Dojimas, I mean.”

    “Eh?” Taiga blinked. Then she blushed slightly in realization. “O-oh! Right! I know I have something here…”

    She reached into her dress pockets once more, and then to her hand bag, pawing through it for a moment before perking visibly. With an “Aha!” she handed another picture to her ward, Sakura leaning over his shoulder to see.

    The photo had a black haired, rugged man dressed in a gray dress shirt and black slacks, a jacket slung over his shoulder and walking out to his car. He was turned back slightly, waving to a little girl by the door to the house behind him. She looked the right age for early elementary school, first grade probably, wearing a three-color plaid dress over a white turtleneck, with brown eyes and brown hair in short pigtails. She was waving too, holding a school bag and just closing the door behind her, but she looked rather sad.

    “Where did you get this photo?” Sakura asked. “It looks like they posed.”

    “Posed?” Taiga blinked again. “Uh, yeah! Posed! It was, uh… a gift! A friend of theirs wanted a realistic shot so he got them doing this!”

    What really happened was that the yakuza in Inaba were bribed to get as far as the Dojima residence and take a quick photo of them both. Yes, they needed a bribe to do that much: nearly every criminal or mob gangster Raiga’s men asked had shit themselves when asked to try and take a picture of Ryotaro Dojima, and wouldn’t accept anything less than a down payment for what they considered guaranteed prison time. Not to mention that shortly after someone did get the picture, he exposed himself to the detective because he forgot to turn off the flash. Needless to say, after all was said and done, the photographer's payment was converted to his bail... and new motorcycle.

    Yeah, Dojima was that good.

    Shirou now held two pictures and a phone number in his hand, staring between them before looking at his teacher. His expression looked so lost and hurt. “Fuji-nee…”

    “I know this is a lot for you to take in but-“

    “Why did you do all this?”

    It wasn’t a how or a when, but a why. Of all the questions he could possibly ask, that one threw Taiga for a loop briefly. She felt a bit offended by that question, really. “What do you mean why? I’m trying to be a helpful sister, you know? Aren’t you glad to know the identity of your relatives?”

    “I-it’s not that,” he quickly reasoned. “But they have their own lives, and I can’t just intrude into their lives all of the sudden-“

    “You’ve been like this since Kiritsugu died,” she bluntly added, stopping his excuse. “You never do archery anymore, you sleep in the shed, you drop everything on a moment’s notice whenever someone strings you along for a favor… and you keep putting down the fact that you miss him!”

    To be a magus is to walk with death. That was what his step-father told him as he trained him. Death was another part of their lives, and could come at any moment. Shirou reminded himself of this sometime after the funeral, and devoted himself that much further into being what his father strived in life; to be a super hero, an ally of justice…

    He couldn’t tell Fuji-nee that though. Magecraft was meant to be secret from the general public, and his step-father stressed this greatly. He understood the need to accept the fate of magi and move on for the sake of his father’s legacy. But he did admit he did feel a pang of bitterness whenever he thought of him, like now…

    “Besides, they need to know you’re alive just as much as you need to hear this!” Taiga continued, pointing at the photo. “See that girl? Nanako? That’s the same look on your face whenever you hear his name or see his face.”

    “No it’s no-“

    Before he could finish, she pulled out a hand mirror from her bag and held it up in front of his face. “Kiritsugu.”

    Despite himself, his mouth twitched to a frown and his eyes lowered, almost on reflex. It was a brief moment, but he saw his depressed reflection.

    Damn it, she was right.

    “That’s the pain of loss,” she said as she set aside the mirror. “She’s younger than you were when he died, but I can only imagine what she and her father had to cope with.

    Shirou blinked, and then looked back at the Dojima photo. She said uncle and cousin… but not aunt. “You mean, the mother-?”

    Taiga nodded solemnly. “Passed away a few years ago.”

    A tense silence filled the room while Shirou continued to digest this, his expression filled with warring emotions.

    “Um, senpai?” Sakura spoke, reminding the other two she was still in the room. “I know it’s rather sudden, but maybe you can just give them a call? They’re your family after all, and I’m sure they’d at least like to know you’re still alive.”

    Shirou stared between the number and the photos again. His eyes lingered mostly at young Nanako’s face. How she braved the fact that she and her father lost someone close to them. He knew that pain all too well. Even if he could not remember his birth family even with the photo in his hand, he always had that knowledge that they were gone in the back of his mind. How hard was it for them, who could still remember their loved ones’ smiles?

    “Yeah… you’re right.”

    December 20, 2010 - Dojima Residence, Inaba

    He’s late again, Nanako thought glumly while the ending theme to her show played on TV. She had hoped that by the time her show ended her dad would come back. Some days he did, other days he came home late, and there were even days where he didn’t come home at all. She once tried to keep track or see if there was a pattern once, but couldn’t find anything.

    Nanako knew her dad was doing an important job. She felt proud whenever she told her friends at school about how he went around Inaba catching and beating up bad guys. It wasn’t so bad either because whenever she played with mom, it would seem he would be home before she even knew it. When she was awake that is.

    But things weren’t the same when mom died. Things were tense without her, and she and dad barely talked to each other during dinner. She learned to do laundry, clean up around the house, and sometimes cook when her dad didn’t order take-out. It wasn’t hard and her dad would at times compliment her on a good job. She still missed her mom though…

    Riiiiing! Riiiiing!

    Jolted from her increasingly morose train of thought, Nanako jumped from her cushion and ran to the phone. Was it her dad? She hoped it was! She picked up the handset and eagerly held it to her ear. “Hello?”

    “Uh, hello,” an unknown male voice answered back. “Is Dojima-san there?”

    Nanako frowned as her shoulders slumped a little, feeling her dad’s absence again. “No…”

    “Oh,” the voice was awkward and nervous, but it didn’t sound bad for a stranger. “Who is this then?”

    Nanako remembered what her father told her. “My dad said I shouldn’t give my name to strangers,” she recited with a bit of pride.

    The voice on the other line laughed lightly. “Your dad’s pretty smart.”

    “Anyway, dad’s at work and mom’s…” Dead? In Heaven? “Gone,” she settled on.

    “…Oh…” The voice fell silent for a while. Nanako could hear breathing on the line though. “…When will your dad get back then?”

    “I don’t know,” she answered after a moment’s pause. “He’s always out at night.”

    “Doing what?”

    “Detective stuff,” said Nanako. It wasn't too personal to answer questions to this man, right? “He’s a detective. Who are you?”

    “I’m uh… you’re cousin… I think.”

    She frowned slightly in confusion. “You think?”

    The door to the house opened. “I’m home!”

    Nanako’s eyes brightened and turned to the new voice. “Welcome home, dad!”

    Ryotaro Dojima kicked his shoes off at the front step and hanged his coat before walking up to his daughter. “Who’s on the phone, Nanako?”

    “A guy who says he’s my cousin, he thinks. He wants to talk to you.”

    “‘He thinks,’ huh?” Dojima smirked slightly before accepting the phone. It was a pretty amusing identity for a prank caller. “Hello? Ryotaro Dojima speaking. Who is this?”

    “Uh, hello Dojima-san,” the voice answered with a nervous tick. “This is your nephew; Shirou Emiya.”

    Dojima snorted. “Nice try, but I sure as hell don’t know a Shirou Emiya for a nephew. Thanks for wasting my time. Goodbye.”

    “Wait! Wait!” the voice cried frantically, and Dojima stopped reaching for the receiver. This ought to be good, he thought. “Sorry, I’ve been called Shirou for so long that I forgot my first name. What I meant to say was… I’m Yu Narukami.”

    Dojima’s eyes widened. “…Yu?” If nothing else, he would give the guy credit for doing his homework: he did have a nephew by that name at one point, but the boy had died ten years ago. A massive fire had broken in Fuyuki City where his sister was working at the time, all but gutting the urban center of the city. There were supposedly no survivors from the Narukami family. The last she had seen of them was when Yu was a baby, offering to babysit him while they went overseas for work, as usual. It was mostly changing diapers though…

    That being the case, how did this joker find that name?

    But hearing his supposed deceased nephew calling him ten years after the incident sounded fishy to him, detective or not. “I don’t believe you.” Identity theft was growing increasingly popular as a crime nowadays, so this could very well be someone that dug up his information somewhere.

    “Honestly, this is hard for me to take in myself,” Shirou answered… or was it Yu? “I only just found out my birth name today.”

    He sounded genuine. Most people wouldn’t wait so long to contact their relatives if presumed dead. Unless… “Amnesia, is it?”

    “I think so. I don’t remember anything before Shinto burned down, not even my old name. But I know I was there. I still have nightmares about it, really.”

    Well, that would check the story out. Anything that would kill several hundred people at once happening right in front and all around you qualified as traumatic in his book too. It would also explain why he didn’t call until now, but not why he called now. “If that’s true, then how do you get this number? Or know if I’m really your uncle?”

    “Fuji-nee found out.”

    “Your adopted sister, I presume?”

    “My current guardian,” Yu-Shirou corrected. “Up until recently, I lived with my adoptive father who saved me from the fire, and Fuji-nee would come over because her grandfather was friends with him.”

    “Recently?” Dojima asked.

    A brief paused followed. “He passed away… five years ago.”

    The detective’s brow crinkled in sympathy despite his suspicions. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

    “It’s fine, really. I’m more concerned of your daughter though, losing her mother so early.”

    It seemed his ‘nephew’ was too well read into his family life. Either he really did care, or was sticking his nose where he shouldn’t. “Is your guardian there right now?”

    “Huh? Uh, yes, she-“

    “Put her on.” His order left no room for negotiation.

    Yu-Shirou hesitated; his breath hitched slightly on the phone. “Uh… sure.”

    He heard brief bickering on the line, most likely between the two people present. He could only make out the “You’re ruining everything, you idiot!” before someone spoke directly to the phone. “Hello, Taiga Fujimura here! Alleged sister figure to Shirou Emiya / Yu Narukami! How can I help you?”

    Her voice was laced with beaming innocence and confidence, but Dojima recognized it being the same voice that was yelling during the switch. If he had to guess on first impressions, she was the kind of person that would do anything to get things her way. Feigning innocence and whining consistently were common tactics. However, he noticed that her last name wasn’t Emiya. Peculiar: if she took over as guardian, one or the other would change their names to fit.

    “I’m Ryotaro Dojima, and I want to ask you about the legitimacy of my ‘nephew’s’ identity.”

    “I assure you that I was able to find legit proof he is your nephew! I’ve known him for ten years now, and I can say without a doubt he looks just like the little boy if the photo of his birth parents!”

    “How is it you found a photo now and not before?”

    “A lot of stuff on the people that died was kept in storage, especially those working on or living in the expanded parts of Shinto. I just looked through some folders on what was salvaged from the damage on now useless buildings and apartments.”

    “You just happened to find the one folder you were looking for?” Dojima asked, honestly surprised.

    “Well, it wasn’t easy, I’ll tell you that much!” shouted Taiga.

    “I’ll say,” Dojima agreed. “But how can you be sure if we’re related based on appearances? Has he taken a DNA test?”

    The line was silent. “Uh… no?” she admitted.

    Thought so. “Goodbye.”

    “WAIT!” she shouted quickly. “I could get one if that’s what you want! It would take a while though, maybe a few days.”

    “Fair enough,” he allowed. “Though I’m starting to get suspicious on how much you know.”

    “Your sister’s maiden name was on Shirou’s birth certificate, also in the folder I found. I used the names Narukami and Dojima as the basis of my search.”

    “That still doesn’t explain how you know my home number.” His voice lowered to a slight intimidating growl. “Or what happened to my wife.”

    The silence on her end dragged a little longer this time. “I, uh… know a guy.”

    The detective scowled. There were too many convenient excuses and not enough straight answers for his liking. “If that’s all you’re going to say on the matter, I’m afraid this conversation is over. Goodbye.”

    “STOP DOING THAT!” she cried louder. Dojima had to pull the phone out of his ear that time, wincing. “Listen, can’t you just see your nephew once in a while? He really needs a family to connect with, and he hasn’t been the same since his adoptive father died!”

    The detective frowned; he was going to need a smoke after this. “Even if he is my nephew, and all my years of experience on the field are strongly telling me that he isn’t, he has gotten this far without contact with us. I’ve only seen Yu once as a baby anyway; we’d be total strangers now.”

    “Then you can start over fresh!” Taiga reasoned. “And I said I would get the proof!”

    “It’s just not going to work out,” he said, reaching for the receiver again.

    “Can’t you at least do it for your daughter?”

    The police detective paused and waited for her to elaborate.

    “Shirou, or Yu as you've last known him, keeps downplaying the fact that he’s lost his dad: the adopted dad, the only dad he's ever known. He just throws himself into work and fixing things, and hardly goes out with people his age. He’s already a first year in high school and I’m worried that sooner or later he might be driven to suicide. All he seems to plan for his future is being an ‘ally of justice’ like his father supposedly was.”

    Dojima could faintly hear Yu-Shirou cry out “He was!” on the other line, and Taiga hushing him before continuing. “I can only imagine what your daughter is going through losing her mother, and I think the two of them could really use each other’s company, if nothing else.”

    He turned to Nanako, watching and listening to his end of the conversation ever since she gave him the phone. “Dad?”

    She had to be hurting even now without her mother here…

    Dojima couldn’t stop doing his job. He still needed to catch the bastard that took Chisato from them. But he couldn’t leave her alone all the time either. What Taiga just told him sounded rather unhealthy for a boy of any age to go through, and it didn’t occur to him that Nanako might go through the same thing. Does leaving a child alone to their own devices too long lead them to danger? He might never notice the signs until it was too late with how often work kept him away.

    “Well, Dojima-san?” Taiga probed again.

    Dojima sighed. He was still unsure about this, but if she was going so far just to find them and Yu-Shirou was willing to meet halfway… “Maybe we can work something out... but you’re going to need a lot of proof.”

    If he didn’t know any better, he would have sworn he heard her smile proudly on the other line. “Consider your challenge accepted, Dojima-san!”
     
    bldude, TheQuote, Lilithium and 14 others like this.
  5. Kishou the Badger

    Kishou the Badger Writer Extraordinaire

    Chapter 4

    Taiga took the terms of the “challenge” seriously to the point it seemed jarring for Sakura and Shirou. For the following month, she put Shirou through several DNA and blood tests with different hospitals and clinics, keeping numerous appointments with several different doctors and making sure Dojima did the same. She wanted no excuses from him when the proof hit the table. Copies of the birth certificate, photos, anything she could find from the folder and the results from the numerous medical tests changed hands as she pushed Dojima and her resources to the limit.

    Taiga ignored most of Shirou’s complaints about the process. He never was one for doctors as long as she’d known him.

    Dojima cross-referenced everything with his own research and memories of his sister’s family to make sure everything checked out perfectly. At certain points he devoted several hours poring over the same document trying to find any sort of hole in the information that would deny possible relations with Shirou and the potential complications it would bring to his and Nanako’s life. As the weeks and tests passed, it finally started to sink in. This wasn’t some con artist masquerading as his nephew: Shirou Emiya was in fact Yu Narukami.

    He hadn’t slept a wink the night he finally accepted it.

    Whenever they talked on the phone, though, the boy made an awkward assertion that he would prefer his new name over his original one, since he was fond of his adoptive father. Considering Shirou had lived for a decade with that name, asking him to change it now when his memories were still gone made no real sense anyway. Dojima had no complaints; at the end of the day he was still his nephew, after all.

    March 10, 2011 – Emiya Residance

    “I even got to talk to Nanako again for a bit,” Shirou explained at dinner. “She’s still a little shy, but I found out that she cooks breakfast from time to time. Maybe we could share recipes.”

    “Another cook, you say?” Taiga grinned, delicately cutting her share of roast duck. Of course, considering her love of good food, “delicately” did not mean “slowly” in the least. While she was glad that the redhead was connecting with his family again, she was also making an effort to keep Shirou’s attention at dinner.

    Over the last couple of months, the frequency and duration of Shirou’s calls to the Dojima household had risen sharply. At first, he would only spend a few minutes about once a week trying to grasp for a topic, but now he would call almost every other day and sometimes talk to his uncle and cousin for almost an hour, sometimes more if he managed to talk to both Ryotaro and Nanako in one night. It was getting to the point that Taiga was starting to feel a little left out.

    ‘Well, so long as he keeps cooking for me, I can tolerate it for a little bit longer,’ she told herself.

    “Your cousin sounds like a sweet little girl, senpai,” Sakura added, pausing in her meal to comment. “A shame what happened to her mother…”

    “Yeah…” Shirou agreed solemnly. “She's still learning, but she started cooking for breakfast after her mother died, since Dojima-san is always busy.”

    “Well, point is that you’re hitting it off with them!” Taiga assured him. “Sooner or later, you might even get to visit them!”

    “Funny you should mention that,” Shirou smiled slightly. “Dojima-san and I have been talking about it, and he was thinking about arranging for me to stay with him in Inaba for a while.”

    “That’s great, senpai!” Sakura offered her support, genuinely happy for her upperclassman. He was finally going to see his family! A day trip once in a while would be great for him, and if needed, perhaps even a week or two to really get to know them. “How long would you be staying?”

    The redhead’s smile turned a bit sheepish. “About that… Well, I still have school and I can’t set that aside. Between Dojima’s job and that, I can’t see it working right away.”

    Taiga nearly dropped her chopsticks at that. “Eh? After all this trouble you’re not going to visit them?!”

    “Think about it, Fuji-nee: it’s not as if I don’t want to go, but as it stands, the only way it could work is if I either waited for summer break or just bite the bullet and spent my next school year at Yasogami like Dojima suggested. As much as I would like to meet my family in person, it’s just not feasible right now.”

    If this were any other matter, Taiga would have agreed with the assessment and let the matter drop. This time though, hearing Shirou give up so easily after the months of effort she put into the search and the proof caused a tick in her brow. “Come on, Shirou! What’s missing a few days? This is your family we’re talking about!”

    “You guys are my family, too, you know,” Shirou muttered. He didn’t notice Sakura blush a little and missed Taiga fighting down a smile. “I wouldn’t have much chance to really get to know them without staying for a long time there, anyway. We’re pretty much strangers for the most part.”

    The childish teacher pointed at her charge with her chopsticks. She had put in too much money, burned a lot of favors (more accurately, her grandfather had used some of his pull for her), effort and a lot of time into tracking down Shirou’s blood relatives and getting them to interact for him to just give up when he was obviously starting to connect with them. “You aren’t going to spend your entire life in Fuyuki City! Going over there getting to know your family wouldn’t be a bad thing!”

    Shirou shrugged. “Like I said, Dojima suggested that I spend the next school year in Inaba, but that just seemed a little extreme-“

    “If that’s what it’ll take, then I’ll allow it!” Taiga roared.

    Shirou and Sakura’s utensils froze with their hands. An eerie silence stretched out between the three in the room, the students staring at the teacher blankly. When it became clear from the stubborn frown that Taiga was dead serious, their expressions morphed to shock. Shirou outright dropped his chopsticks, mouth opening and closing like a gaping fish. Sakura’s reaction was more subtle but unmistakable; her soft smile faltered, her eyes were wide with horror, one of them making a slight twitch.

    What?” Sakura squeaked softly.

    “Are you… serious about this, Fuji-nee?” Shirou finally choked out.

    “That’s right, Shirou! I’ve decided! It’s high time you got to meet them face-to-face! If Dojima thinks you would be welcome for a year, than that’s what it’ll be!”

    “B-but…” Sakura started softly. “Why does senpai have to leave? Can’t they just come up here? There are plenty of spare bedrooms here.”

    “W-well, Nanako’s just starting elementary school and Dojima’s a police detective which keeps him from home with odd hours. They have a tough enough time as it is juggling their lives ever since Nanako lost her mother. I couldn’t just ask them to drop everything for a day trip out here. Nanako also told me that Dojima gets called in at random, too.” Shirou explained, taking a mouthful of rice mechanically.

    As it stood, Shirou’s sense of responsibility and desire to inconvenience as few people as possible pretty much dictated how the visit would have to work. He didn’t mind waiting for summer, but Taiga’s pressure was hard to resist. To be fair, she had put a stupendous amount of effort into reuniting the family, so not going to meet the Dojima family face to face must have been tremendously frustrating for her.

    To be honest though, Shirou felt bad having to leave Homurahara as well. The student council always counted on him to fix the supplies and appliances around the school, especially Issei Ryuudou, a freshman already slated for a council position starting next year. Shirou promised to take some time to repair as many of the old appliances as he could before he left for Inaba for them.

    ‘Huh. I’m already thinking as though I’ve already decided to go… Am I really that eager?’

    “Sensei, why are you pushing this so hard?” Sakura pleaded, her hand clutching the table tightly enough to turn her knuckles white.

    Taiga gave the plum-haired girl a disarming smile. “It’s not that I’m pushing him to visit, I just don’t want him to have any excuses to avoid this. If we let it sit, he’ll grow comfortable just talking over the phone and might never get around to meeting them.”

    As Sakura gaped at her like a fish, Taiga turned her attention to Shirou again. “That being said, you need to keep that ‘super hero’ stuff of yours in check; Dojima’s a cop, so he’ll handle all the crime stuff. Just have fun with Nanako-chan while you’re there, and maybe make some new friends at school. Or even hang out at their Junes place. No way can anything dark, sinister or unusual happen over there!”

    “I’ll try,” he answered, which wasn’t a complete lie. He would still practice his magecraft in secret, but he wouldn’t expose himself either. A small town like Inaba might very well have a near-nonexistent crime rate, especially with someone like Dojima watching the place.

    Taiga then puffed her chest out in a defiant lecturing pose (while still sitting down). “And for your long-term homework assignment: you are to learn and master all of Yasoinaba’s meals and delicacies so you can prepare them for us back here for our enjoyment!”

    Shirou laughed; same old Fuji-nee. “I’ll do my best!” Now that, he knew, he could accomplish without fail.

    With that decided, they continued their meal in silence. Sakura just sat and stared at the two them for several minutes, almost unable to comprehend what just happened.

    Eventually Taiga noticed her daze and looked concerned. “Sakura, I understand you’re upset, but try to be happy for Shirou, alright? A year’s not forever.”

    “R-right,” Sakura nodded, ignoring whatever dark thoughts circled in her head. “Of course… It’s only a year…”

    Only one lonely, long, painfully atrocious year without him…
     
    Tasoli, bldude, TheQuote and 10 others like this.
  6. Kishou the Badger

    Kishou the Badger Writer Extraordinaire

    Chapter 5

    April 11th, 2011, Fuyuki Train Station

    After months of planning, paperwork, and negotiations with public and private groups, the big day had finally arrived, and Shirou had a small gathering of friends to see him off along with Taiga and her grandfather Raiga. Standing by the train, bags in hand, Shirou still had enough time to say his goodbyes before departure.

    Naturally, being who he was, the first thing he had to say was an apology. “Sorry I couldn’t finish all the repairs, Issei.”

    Issei Ryuudou shook his offered hand. The monk-in-training was already slated to take the mantle of President of the Student Council in the coming year, and he had taken to the preparations like a fish to water. He had hoped to count on Shirou to assist him from time to time, but he was glad his friend was getting to chance to meet his biological family. He was insightful enough to see that the experience would do Emiya some good. “Think nothing of it, Emiya. I’m rather thankful for all you were able to get done as it is. Homurahara has managed before we had you as our ‘janitor’ for years, so one year of your absence shouldn’t be too painful.”

    “I’ll be sure to make up for it when I return for third year,” Shirou promised.

    Issei smiled. “While that isn’t necessary, it is good to know you can be counted on.”

    The captain of the archery club he used to frequent, Ayako Mitsuzuri, was also there, almost unwilling to see him leave. “You sure there’s nothing I can’t say to convince you to stay?” Ayako asked, giving Shirou half-hearted puppy-dog eyes. “Your spot in the archery club is still open,” she tempted, the playful smirk on her face slightly melancholy. She would miss him.

    “And I’ve declined that spot each time you offered,” Shirou countered without missing a beat. “I don’t plan on joining the archery team in Yasogami, though, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

    “Yasogami doesn’t have an archery team. I checked. I won’t hold it against you if you join a sports team though; can’t waste your potential after all.”

    “I’ll consider it.” Shirou wasn’t sure if he was going to try out for any sport, though. As much as they helped him keep in shape, the more he devoted himself to a club the less time he’d have developing his skills as a magus and ally of justice.

    Sakura had come along with Shinji, and held herself back to let her brother to make his farewells first. The dark haired young man smirked and slouched as he patted his close friend on the back. “Oh, changing schools already? I’m almost disappointed Emiya. Couldn’t find your calling here?” Shinji’s tongue was as cutting as always, but Shirou shrugged it off as more of the harmless snarking that he indulged in.

    “It’s not that, Shinji. I’m just making an extended visit with my uncle and cousin.”

    “But a whole year in another school?” Shinji’s grin grew wider and more mischievous. “Don’t play coy with me, Emiya; you just want to find yourself a girlfriend!”

    Shirou nearly stumbled the next time Shinji slapped his back. “Wha-?!”

    “I don’t blame you, honestly. All the girls in Homurahara flock to me instead of you. Sakura is the exception because I can trust her in your capable hands.”

    Something about his tone sounded condescending, but Shinji always made blunt remarks about people. Shirou had long developed a tolerance to such things, and he responded in kind. “Well, I’m more concerned about how the archery club would handle without me to always fix the broken equipment. You can fix them though, right Shinji?”

    The subtle stab to his pride wasn’t missed by the Matou, nor was it to Ayako. The latter covered her mouth with her hand to stifle chuckles. “I-it’s not your concern, really. You’re an outsider that quit after all. The archery club will do fine without you as it has been this last year with their best candidate.”

    “Ah, true. Though Mitsuzuri might have her work cut out for her this year.”

    Shinji barely suppressed a twitch that time, and Ayako didn’t even bother holding back her mirth. “Always the kidder, Emiya… but seriously, maybe you’ll get lucky over there without me around. Though I wouldn’t get your hopes up; it would be a rainy day in Inaba before you could snag someone like Risette, let alone any other babe!”

    Shirou shook his head good-naturedly. “Yeah, I suppose you’re right,” he replied to placate the volatile teen.

    Sakura chose that moment to speak up, albeit shyly. “U-um… I hope you have fun, senpai.”

    “I will,” Shirou smiled. “Thanks Saku-“

    “SHIROUUUUUU!”

    A sudden tiger-striped blur latched to his side with the force of a battering ram, and latched on it like a house cat. The distressed school teacher sobbed comically onto his shoulder, making her alleged brother feel very awkward.

    “Shirouuuuuu! Don’t goooooo!” she whined with beady eyes. “If you do I’ll staaaaaaaarve!”

    “Bu-but you were the one that gave the okay, weren’t you?” Shirou pointed out as he struggled to pry the older woman loose.

    “I changed my mind! Don’t leave me without your delicious cooking, Shirou!” she wailed childishly.

    “Now, now, Taiga,” her grandfather sighed. “No need to be selfish. Let the boy do what he wants. I’m sure his father would want him to start fending for himself.”

    Taiga’s grip eased slightly. “Which one?”

    Raiga smiled. “Both of them.”

    Taiga nodded at that and fought back her emotions with a comically loud sniffle. She suddenly gripped Shirou’s shoulders firmly and looked him square in the eyes seriously. “Pr-promise me you’ll have fun in Inaba! Don’t slip on your education, and make a lot of friends!” She frowned further, ready to burst into tears again. “And learn lots and lots of recipes while you’re there, so we can have a big welcome home feast!”

    Shirou was slightly confused as to why Taiga was crying over this. Not only had she been the one to push him down this road, but it was only for a year. It wasn’t like he was moving away forever. Really, he would be back before she knew it. Regardless, he wanted to help ease her worries, so he smiled and said, “I promise.”

    Farewells and small talk only lasted another minute before the intercom called passengers to board. He quickly grabbed his things and headed inside, watching as the others (minus Shinji) started to wave goodbye.

    “Have fun, Emiya!” Issei waved.

    “Come back soon, senpai!” Sakura added.

    “Bring souvenirs!” Taiga yelled.

    Shirou smiled and waved back, hurrying on to his semi-crowded train. Within minutes, Fuyuki City seemed to fall away, signaling the change in his life. Given the number of stations he had to pass through and the times he’d need to change trains, Shirou guessed he would arrive sometime in the evening.

    Thus began his cross-country ride to Inaba.

    ???

    Huh?

    Shirou started to stir from his seat. Nothing much had happened as he changed a few stations, other than a few commercials and some celebrity news scandal playing loudly at the last station. He ignored them both, more focused on reaching his destination. The last leg of the trip ahead was far and away the longest, giving him time to doze off from fatigue… and he somehow ended up somewhere completely new.

    He was rolling smoothly down what felt like a newly paved road inside a stretch limousine lined with high-quality blue velvet. The seats, the carpet, the ceiling, all of it was a soulful dark blue color and was as soft as clouds beneath him. Directly to his left, a rack of crystal wine glasses and tumblers interspersed with bottles of liquor added to the air of class the vehicle’s interior exuded. In the middle of the rack of glassware a TV screen faced the opposite wall, currently off. Light came from a tiered fixture overhead, filling the space with a soothing blue-white glow. A soft, haunting song came from concealed speakers, a woman’s voice singing to the accompaniment of a piano and violins: an operatic aria. The clarity of sensations ruled out a dream in the amateur magus’s mind.

    He immediately realized he was not alone in the car, either. Across from him two… others sat peaceably in their own plush seats. The first was obviously not human or at least a mixed breed; he was thin, almost skeletal and clad in perfectly pressed black and white suit with white silk gloves. Hunched over, he was bald save for fringes of wispy white hair on the sides and back of his head. His ears were pointed and almost fifteen centimeters long, and his nose was even longer than his ears, looking more like a flesh-colored beak than anything else.

    The other was a young blonde woman sitting to the man’s left, clad in a blue jacket and matching skirt with black stockings. She was pale and her hair was white as new snow. On her lap, her hands rested gently upon a thick hardback book.

    They both looked up and acknowledged Shirou within moments as he came to; the man’s eyes were bulbous and bloodshot, while the woman’s were an eerie yellow-gold.

    “Welcome to the Velvet Room,” the imp-like man said with a smooth, gentlemanly voice.

    To his credit, Shirou recovered quickly enough to accept the man’s welcome. If the two were magi or worse his own haphazard skills would be no match against them, so trying to antagonize them wouldn’t get anything done. He sensed something odd from them… not hostility, but curiosity. “Thank you, sir.”

    “My, my!” the man chuckled. “What fine manners. And it would seem you have a most unusual destiny as well. My name is Igor. I am delighted to make your acquaintance.”

    “Likewise,” he nodded back. “I’m Shirou Emiya.”

    Igor’s seemingly perpetual grin widened slightly. “Hmm… I see.”

    Shirou gazed around the room of the car, wondering if this was one of those Bounded Fields his father had told him about. Outside the windows, he noticed that it was obviously night and so dark that the car seemed completely isolated in its own little world, his location completely hidden by an impossibly thick fog. “What is this place?”

    “This is the realm found between dream and reality, mind and matter…” Igor answered. “It is a room that only those that are bound by a ‘contract’ may enter… under normal circumstances.”

    Shirou blinked. “What do you mean ‘normal circumstances’?”

    “It is nothing of concern. More relevant to your presence here, it seems that you have a peculiar fate awaiting you in the near future...”

    With a wave of a gloved hand, a small stack of blue cards appeared on the table before him. “Do you believe in fortune telling?” he asked rhetorically, before flicking his hand again. For a moment, the cards blurred with motion where they sat, shuffling themselves at astonishing speed. The top cards then rearranged themselves into seven spaces on the table face down. The backsides of the cards all shared the image of a drama-like mask half white and half black, decorated with vines and what seems to be harps at each corner.

    “Tarot?” Shirou was never one to use such an old method of fortune telling, but it made sense that a powerful magus would find some use for the old techniques.

    “Indeed. Each reading is done with the same cards, but the results are always different.” Igor chuckled. “Life itself follows the same principles, doesn’t it? Let’s take a look at what your future says, shall we?”

    Igor motioned his hand in the air as if flipping a card. As he did so, the card on Shirou’s lower right revealed a picture of a black tower being sundered by lightning. Shaded figures of humans fell from its heights. Roman numerals were written at the bottom: “XVI”. Igor repeated the process again and revealed the identity of the lower left card; a crescent moon with a face outlined in a partially shaded circle, with a lobster silhouette situated between a pair of L-shaped blocks above the moon circle. This card was numbered “XVIII”.

    “Hmm… The Tower in the upright position foretells a catastrophe in the near future, and The Moon in the upright position tells of a mystery… very interesting…”

    “What does that mean?”

    “It seems you will encounter a grave misfortune at your destination,” Igor explained with a subdued theatrical flair. “And a great mystery will be imposed upon you.”

    Shirou paled. “What…?”

    Something terrible was going to happen in Inaba? What did that mean? Considering the supernatural nature of Igor’s “Velvet Room”, Shirou had a sinking feeling that the catastrophe would be of a magical nature if the reading was accurate. At this point, the redhead was willing to admit that Igor likely had a good reason to involve himself with an amateur like Shirou. Perhaps if he was there while it happened, he could prevent something happening to Dojima and Nanako. “What sort of danger?”

    “You certainly ask a lot of questions, Shirou Emiya,” Igor playfully smiled. “But I suppose one more card wouldn’t hurt…”

    This time, he flipped the center bottom card, between the Tower and the Moon cards. This one had a rainbow of colors, and five figures within; four at each corner, and one in the center. Silhouettes of a bull, angel, bird, and lion were at the corners, surrounding a figure of a majestic woman mage in center. However, the card number, “XXI”, was listed on top instead of the bottom, read as "IXX" since it was upside down.

    “The World, in the Reverse position,” the long-nose man noted. “Very interesting indeed…”

    Shirou patiently waited for Igor to explain, but felt very nervous to hear the word “reverse” for some reason.

    “The coming year is a turning point in your destiny… If the mystery goes unsolved, your future, perhaps far more, may be forever lost. That is what the World foretells.” With another flick of the wrist, all of the displayed cards vanished from the table. “You will return here after entering a contract. My duty is to help our guests in their journey. Perhaps our aid will allow you to avert the coming disaster.”

    Shirou narrowed his eyes and turned the thin man’s words over in his mind. He sounded so sure of his predictions. Moreover, he implied that this wasn't the first time he had helped another. While still healthily wary of Igor, Shirou was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and decided to put his trust in the cryptic man’s warnings. “Thank you… Uh… But what about her? Is she your apprentice?”

    “In a way, you could make that generalization. But I have been remiss with my manners!” Igor's smile widened as he waved his hand to the young woman. “This is my assistant, also a resident to this room.”

    “My name is Margaret,” she said in a voice that was clear but cold. No emotion played across her features as she introduced herself. “I am here to accompany you through your journey.”

    Still reeling from the numerous questions running through his mind over what was happening, Shirou nodded mutely. What was this disaster? What did they mean by ‘contract’? How could they help him? Igor seemed to read his mind, and held up a finger to stop any words from his guest.

    “I understand that you must have more questions,” said Igor. “But we shall attend to the details another time. Until then, farewell…”

    Before Shirou could get even one word in, his vision started swimming tiredly and faded to black.

    As suddenly as he had arrived, he was back in the train as it glided towards its next stop. “-aba city and Yasoinaba Station, please go to the other side of the platform. I repeat; we will arrive at the Yasogami terminal in a few minutes. Passengers heading for Inaba city and Yasoinaba Station, please go to the other side of the platform.”

    Yasoinaba Station… Dojima sent him a text earlier saying to meet him there at 6, didn’t he?

    ‘A dream?’ Shirou wondered for the brief moment before discarding the thought. The sights, sounds and textures of that Velvet Room felt far too vivid for a mere dream. Unfortunately, he had no way of working out what it all meant. All he could do was hurry to catch the next train and try to work out possible scenarios during the last leg of the trip.
     
  7. The Sylentnight

    The Sylentnight Passion

    Nice! The thread's finally here! :)

    And before anything else happen's (and in case the OP needs the help.) Here's where the index is going to be. (If you want it removed and the index in your first post, please tell me Kishou.) And before anyone ask's, the index is here now, before the thread gets full of stuff.

    FanFiction Link

    Index

    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2
    Chapter 3
    Chapter 4
    Chapter 5
    Chapter 6
    Chapter 7
    Chapter 8
    Chapter 9
    Chapter 10
    Chapter 11
    Chapter 12
    Chapter 13
    Chapter 14
    Chapter 15
    Chapter 16
    Chapter 17
    Chapter 18
    Chapter 19
     
  8. DrTempo

    DrTempo The Doc of XOvers

    Now this is a present!
     
    Cyrus 21 and Irksome Dude like this.
  9. Irksome Dude

    Irksome Dude SAGOZO! SAGOZO!

    BEST PRESENT ON SPACEBATTLES YET.


    Ahem.


    Excellent to see this being posted.
     
  10. Atreidestrooper

    Atreidestrooper The most lowliest trooper of House Atreides

    So it begins!
     
  11. S J C

    S J C GDI Commander Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    And so the journey of the foolish sword begins.
     
    Cyrus 21 likes this.
  12. Ardion Prosili

    Ardion Prosili < G R E A T ! >

    ALL OF MY YES! I AM IGOR WITH EXCITEMENT![​IMG]
     
    Fan_Fic_Reader likes this.
  13. themwarlord

    themwarlord [none]

    Seems good, I'll be following this. Overall, I like it, except for this:
    It was explicitly stated that Nanako cannot cook. The whole "protagonist makes bentou for Nanako's (cancelled) trip" thing (and thus the Justice SL) happened because of that, after all.
     
  14. Technically, she can cook eggs over easy and a few very minor breakfast things (she cooks breakfast a lot), which might be enough for her to consider herself an aspiring cook (she's 7, if extremely mature for her age, so a little exaggeration at that age is fine), but I get your point. Shirou can help with that.

    edit: Kishou's got ya covered
     
  15. Kishou the Badger

    Kishou the Badger Writer Extraordinaire

    Here's the change in light of your concerns, themwarlord:

    Thanks for the catch.
     
  16. themwarlord

    themwarlord [none]

    Not exactly what I prefer, but good enough I guess. I won't nitpick too far.
     
  17. Cyrus 21

    Cyrus 21 Kamen Rider/Spirit of Chaos

    And the Fool starts his Journey, and the world shall shake with his passing.
    Looking forward to the next Chapter!
     
  18. '-snip-'
    I am glad to read this crossover.
     
  19. I actually had Kishou's Shirou pop up on the "Send Aid" feature. Basically made my day.

    Nice to see this as its own thread and looking so shiny and new!
     
    Kishou the Badger likes this.
  20. Mizuki_Stone

    Mizuki_Stone Gnd. Admiral

    For future references, such long quotes are considered rude to make, as they produce considerable junkspace on a given thread. If you have areas you wish to make comment about a specific section, cut out the excess and leave the area of interest. If you wish to highlight the post as a whole, then cut it all out and insert '-snip-' in its place. This retains the quick link function so people can tell what you’re talking about, but cuts down on clutter.

    All that taken care of this is really interesting! So many factors in play! Shirou is a Magus if really bad at it, so the supernatural is not alien to him, but he'll have issues due to his own preconceptions. Also his distorted personality and background could possibly make issues for him given time. On the flipside, I'm very interested in seeing how all the strange things from Persona will bleed into this mechanics wise. The two worlds are just so strange, both to our own, and each other, I'm really looking foreword to how things will turn out.
     
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  21. Forgetful

    Forgetful Nuka Chemist

  22. Kishou the Badger

    Kishou the Badger Writer Extraordinaire

    Well, I got a PS Vita for Christmas this year, and bought a few games both at Gamestop and the PSN to pass the time. P4G was also picked up and man was it good. I usually shy away from updated releases since they're usually the tactics Nintendo and Game Freak use on their Pokemon games, so a part of me wondered if buying it was such a good idea. That opinion has changed even before getting to the actual Persona fighting.

    So yeah, my MC is named Shirou Emiya. Funny thing, that playing this game has given me a lot of ideas. I'd prefer to keep most of the discussion in the discussion topic though, since it would be a shame to forget or plunge all that was mentioned in there. Also, perhaps readers would want to come here with making their own guesses as the reading goes on, with all the guessing and possible spoilers happening at discussion. Best of both worlds, no?
     
  23. I'm confused, I really need to check up on persona.
     
  24. Ardion Prosili

    Ardion Prosili < G R E A T ! >

    What about Persona is confusing you, friend? Perhaps I can help.
     
  25. Everything I really just don't get the plotline of it.
     
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