Shiro had no idea why he was in this mess. All he had come to this remote area for was for some advice and hopefully some help using his circuits. Just because he had learned to ignore the pain going down his spine didn't mean he had to like it. The only reason he was even here was because of an offhand comment Kiritsugu had made years ago before his death about certain psychics actually being Magi who had unusually active circuits!

But no, he ended up roped into some tournament to see who got to be Genkai's apprentice, despite the fact he just wanted to ask her for help. He was a Magus, not a psychic.

Shiro picked up the lot like everyone else, and to his surprise it was a bright cherry red. He then noticed two teens about the same age as him.

Shiro was a good judge of character, and despite the rough exterior he could tell that these two were like some of the Fujimura family's bodyguards. Rough on the outside and big softies on the inside. Which was kinda ironic considering the Fujimura family was in fact a Yakuza clan.

"And here I thought I was the only teen around," he said wryly to the two.

The slicked back teen whipped around to face him with surprise.

"Heh, and here I thought Kuwabara and I were the only ones our age too. Urameshi Yusuke," he said holding out his hand.

"Emiya Shiro," he said shaking it firmly.

"You're not from Tokyo are you?" asked Yusuke. The fact he didn't even react to his name said as much, but he wouldn't mind having it confirmed.

"Next town over. I live in Fuyuki. You wouldn't happen to be related to Atsuko Urameshi would you?" he asked, the name sparking an odd comment Taiga had made a few months back.

"You know my mom?"

"My neighbor/legal guardian does. She made an offhand comment about the difficulty one of her family's acquaintances had getting her son back into school after a rather odd situation had him leaving it for a few months," said Shiro.

"You know yakuza? I always suspected she had ties to them, but it's nice to have it confirmed," said Yusuke.

"My guardian Fujimura Taiga is the granddaughter of the family head," said Shiro.

"Where are my manners. Kazuma Kuwabara," said the orange-head next to Yusuke.

"So what brought you here Emiya-san?" asked Yusuke. He liked Shiro already.

"Shiro is fine," said the red head, "And I came here because of something my dad said a while back before he died about psychics. I had no idea that I would end up in the middle of this."

Yusuke chuckled.

The next test had Shiro cringing. He wasn't that great a singer. Strangely, despite the fact he used prana and not spirit energy he barely managed to scrape past the second test Genkai had set up...though she had an odd look on her face from the punching game.

Shiro managed to keep up with Genkai through the forest, though it was a close thing. He could tell one way from another in the forest, and following her seemed like a better idea.

Genkai raised an eyebrow at the panting teen.

"You're not a psychic," she accused him.

"No, I'm not. I got dragged into this tournament completely by mistake," he admitted.

"I thought as much. Why is a Magus here?" she asked.

"I came to ask for help. My dad wasn't exactly a good teacher, and despite the fact I've been making due with what I know I was hoping that you might be one of the psychics he made an offhand comment about with active circuits," he said.

"You came all this way here for help on your magus training? Do you have any idea how stupid that is? That forest is filled with lower class demons!" said Genkai incredulous.

"I'm tired of forging a new circuit every time I use magecraft. I want to learn the art properly, even if I never get anywhere with it," said Shiro tiredly.

"Forging a new... what the hell did this father of yours teach you?! Do you have any idea what a stupid idea that is?" said Genkai horrified.

"Why do you think I decided to try my luck with a woman two hours away from where I live?" he countered.

Genkai pinched the bridge of her nose.

"You do realize that by the Association's standards I rank as a Hermit right? Even if they have no idea that I'm aware of them or know how to use magic?" she said.

"It's better than going alone and getting myself killed by a mistake someone who knows what they are doing could prevent," said Shiro.

"You're not even interested in my technique are you?" asked Genkai.

"Not in the least. I'm a bad Magus, not a psychic and it would be unfair those who actually came here to learn it if I actually did get the apprenticeship," confirmed Shiro.

"Hmph. Depending on who gets the spot, I might just let you stick around anyway. Anyone stupid enough to actually forge a new circuit from their nerves has enough pain tolerance that I can work with," said Genkai.

Shiro looked relieved.

"Of course that means you can't exactly sit in on the rest of the tests," she said.

"I noticed some of your game machines were off to the side. Are they by any chance broken?" asked Shiro.

"Four of them are, the other two were burnt out a few years ago and I've never gotten them replaced. Why?"

"I'm a fair hand at repairing machines. It's one of the few things I can do with my magecraft, and I can probably fix them for you for free. Might have to substitute some of the wires from one of the machines, but they'll work again."

Genkai smirked.

"There's a tool box in the third room from the gaming arcade. I figured it would be easier to have them on hand when I finally decided to get them repaired," she told him.

Shiro was more than a little happy that Yusuke and Kuwabara survived the forest unscathed...more or less.

"So what exactly is the old hag having you do while she rescues the idiots who got lost?" asked Yusuke.

"She said that since I'm not actually here for her techniques but something else entirely different that I don't have to stick around for the third test. I noticed some of the machines were broken so I offered to fix them for her for free to pass the time. It would be rude to wander around her house without permission," said Shiro.

"You know how to repair stuff?"

"I repair the yakuza's motorcycles all the time for a small fee. They love me because I don't ask questions and my costs are usually much cheaper than asking a professional," said Shiro shrugging.

"You're a weird man Shiro," said Yusuke with good humor.

"I get told that a lot, usually after people hear my life goals," admitted Shiro.

Shiro spent the next three hours analyzing, taking apart and replacing parts. He heard various noises associated with fighting from the general area Yusuke and Kuwabara had gone in, and four hours later he was finishing up his self-appointed task.

Genkai walked in with an exhausted Yusuke. He looked very irritated, as apparently he had been sent here by someone else and they had neglected to tell him everything.

"Good news. As long as you can handle sleeping next to this dimwit, we can start training tomorrow," she told Shiro.

"Which gives me enough time to speak to my legal guardian and have her forward all the school work to a P.O. Box in town," said Shiro.

Genkai was impressed by his work ethic.

"I'll write a letter to the school so you don't have to worry about not graduating. You'll have to keep up with me in between training this dumbass though, and do your work on your own time."

"...Would offering to cook all the meals help?" he asked.

"It would," she said.

Shiro had wisely kept the phone well away from his ear when he called to inform his legal guardian of the news. Fujimura Taiga could be loud when she was upset, particularly if she wasn't allowed to mooch off of her favorite cook for several months. Still, once her whining had finally stopped and he explained that he wasn't entirely giving up on his normal schooling, she agreed to send over the homework and his books along with some clothes to the address. She had to look up Genkai and when she found out how rare it was to get an apprenticeship from the woman, she had agreed it was too good of an opportunity to miss.

Shiro even called Yusuke's good friend Keiko so she could forward some change of clothes for him, since he hadn't known that had he succeeded in winning the tournament that he would be stuck in the middle of nowhere for six months whether he liked it or not.

He did manage to convince Genkai to let the teen go to the event that he had rightfully earned tickets to, if only to spare their ears from his likely bitchfest...and Shiro had a headache when Yusuke learned exactly how hard Genkai was on her students. He had to actually work at learning her techniques in return, but considering the migraine Yusuke gave the two of them until that point Shiro was just glad he finally shut up.

Genkai and Shiro were sitting on a cliff that Yusuke was trying to scale with a boulder on his back as fast as possible playing poker. Shiro was surprisingly a good poker player.

" I correct in assuming you're Kiritsugu Emiya's son?"

"Adopted, but he was my dad in every way that mattered," said Shiro.

"You do realize he was known as the Magus Killer for a reason right?" asked Genkai.

"He saved my life and he gave me a life goal. I don't care about what his life was like before then, though that doesn't mean I still don't think of him as my dad," said Shiro flatly.

"What life goal?" asked Genkai.

"My dad's dream...was to have a world where you didn't need to sacrifice one to save the many. He passed it on to me before he died," explained Shiro.

"Ten for a hundred, a hundred for a thousand. Kiritsugu's credo was to use the most efficient path to save as many lives as he could. A noble, if foolhardy goal."

"You're not going to tell me that my dream is an idiotic one are you?" asked Shiro.

"I don't give a damn about whether or not you have an impossible dream like that. But since you are one of my only students I will be pounding some damn common sense into that thick head of yours."

"What?" said Shiro in surprise.

"I'm a psychic, not a saint. If you want to waste your life on an impossible dream, that's your business. However I would like to die knowing that I at least kept you from making an idiot mistake like trying to save lost lives by contacting the spirit of the world and becoming a Counter Guardian. Doing that would break you faster than anything, since Counter Guardians are little more than clean-up spirits meant to equalize progress, usually through the most bloody way possible," said Genkai.

Shiro blinked. That was the first he had heard of such things.

"What would you recommend sensei?"

"Well you're already on the right track by learning how to use your circuits properly. And hanging around the temple has awakened your spirit sense enough that you can at least see demons. So my next goal for you is to see how fast you can pick up how to heal others. Defending people is well and good, but swords can't bring back those who could have otherwise lived like learning how to heal can," critiqued Genkai.

"So you're saying I should become a doctor?" said Shiro.

"A magical or psychic one possibly. Becoming a real doctor would cut into your training with the sword," said Genkai. Shiro could accept that.

"What's this about training with a sword?" said Yusuke, panting for breath.

"I specialize in two-sword style, and the only one in my home town who can spar with me is Fuji-nee," said Shiro.

Yusuke sat down tiredly.

"You got anything against demons? Particularly the cranky and rather blunt kind?" he asked.

"Not particularly. This is actually the first time I've even seen any," said Shiro.

"I may know a fire demon who could spar with you. He's really good with the sword, but he's on probation last I heard," said Yusuke.

Genkai looked intrigued. Sparring with a demon could improve Shiro's small amount of spirit energy and give him sword training.

"I'll call that reaper girl later to see if we can't get a hold of this demon you know," said Genkai after a moment.

Yusuke and Shiro were in the bathroom...which Genkai had a massive one that looked more like a small hot spring than a tub...while she called Botan.

"So how come you're still doing regular homework along with what that old bag has you doing?" asked Yusuke washing off the sweat.

"I prefer my hearing, and Fuji-nee is already upset that she can't mooch off me for six months," said Shiro dryly.

"I'm just glad I don't have to do it. Not like those jerks at my school would grade me fairly," said Yusuke sourly.

"That bad?" asked Shiro, dumping water on himself.

"One of my teachers tried to have Kuwabara expelled by erasing a test answer because of a bet they had made. Luckily one of the fairer teachers overheard the asshole who teaches English and busted him. Hell, if I could get away with it I would ditch school entirely," said Yusuke scowling.

"You live about a few hours away from Fuyuki right?" asked Shiro thinking.

"I live about an hour away, an hour and a half by train. Why?" asked Yusuke.

"Well there's nothing to actually keep you in Tokyo for schooling right? And Fuji-nee recently got her teaching degree and she's already applied as a teacher at the high school I'll be attending. If you could handle a longer commute to school, would there be anything to keep you from joining me at my high school?"

Yusuke looked interested. He wasn't a particularly big fan of Sarayashiki junior high. The only reason he stayed was because of a lack of options and the fact Keiko went there.

However the reasons why he hated the school were outweighing the reasons he should continue attending.

"And if we went to the same school I could always help you with homework," said Shiro continuing.

"Yeah, but I bet I wouldn't be able to pass whatever entrance exam they have," said Yusuke.

"I could have Fuji-nee send it over with the next lot of homework, and I could help you with the test itself. There's no reason you have to do it right away when you could actually study the questions first before you try applying," said Shiro.

"Good point," said Yusuke. Transferring to a new area did sound appealing, even if the time it took to reach the school was a bit long. And he would already know someone from the area.

It didn't hurt that the Fujimura were major contributors to the school, or that one of the teachers at the high school was part of the Yakuza family his mother had connections to and wouldn't be nearly as biased towards him.

"Are you two done with the bath?! I'm starving out here!" shouted Genkai from outside.

Shiro finished up quickly and got dressed before he made dinner. Part of his 'tuition' for learning under Genkai was to make almost all the meals. Yusuke found training much more motivating when he had a decent home-cooked meal to look forward to after.