And I'm back yet again.
Now, since a reviewer seems to have failed to read this before...
This story was started before the Tsukihime remake so the old roster is in effect. I may fill in empty seats from the original roster with ones from the remakes roster, however that's the most that may appear from the remake.
Anyway, now that that's been said...
I will once again shill that I have a pat reon page with the same username where you can get early access to chapters.
Now on with the chapter.
Taiga felt her head ache as she finished listening to her surrogate brother explain exactly why he wanted the resources of the Fujimura group.
"So let me get this straight," she groaned out, "you're wanting to get information on a vampire that was recommended to you by the big one that tried to eat you less than two weeks ago?
"Pretty much," he admitted without the slightest hesitation.
"… and why are you listening to the advice of this monster?" she asked. She might have heard about it before but if she had, she had clearly forgotten due to recent events.
"Because he's an old and extremely competent magus," Sumire piped in.
"More because he could have eaten me then and there and didn't," Shirou said immediately afterwards, "on top of that, what I've heard about Louvre seems to indicate that meeting him would be beneficial for me."
She rubbed her head.
"And you think that a Yakuza group can help you get this information?" she asked.
"More along the lines of using it to give Tohsaka a legitimate reason to try and get the information from the Clock Tower," he responded.
"And again, why do you think taking over will help?" she asked, there would have to be more to it than just that, long term planning wasn't exactly Shirou's forte.
"… to be honest Fuji-nee, it's partly Rita's fault," his words made her blink.
Sumire also looked at him questioningly.
"Wait, what does Rita have to do with anything?" the drunkard asked, her brow furrowed in confusion.
"Rita's the one that told me about the Clock Tower having information on Louvre and well… she made it pretty clear that having connections is why she was capable of getting that information."
"So then, why didn't she just give you the information if she already knows it?" she asked, there had to be a reason she wouldn't just tell him… at least, she hoped there was.
"Because she just knows that the information exists, her contact doesn't have the information itself or the clearance to collect it without causing suspicion… and she doesn't need the information," he replied and she nodded.
Of course someone wouldn't risk an informant for information they didn't care about.
Shaking her head she considered it.
Shirou was starting to grow up.
She had been unsure exactly how he would when the time came, after all, the boy wasn't human and he lacked the hormones that drove many teens to do stupid things.
But he was plenty stubborn without them.
So seeing him acknowledge another avenue of power was both heartening yet disconcerting.
Was he going to grow for the better? Would he use his power to help people? Or would he eventually degrade into a monster like the ones that stalked the night?
The ones that he was an honorary member of.
She shook her head clear once again. It was too late and while she had a good meal for the first time in a week, she wasn't really in a position to try overthinking things.
"Well… I guess the sooner we get this over with the easier it'll be," she said.
It was still hard to part with her family's legacy but given Shirou was basically family to her, she pushed those feelings down.
It was just a case of one sibling abdicating the throne for other pursuits.
Shirou would do better than her as a Yakuza boss… as much as she hated to admit it.
"Yeah," he replied as they both rose from their seats.
Sumire sat, her gaze swaying between the two.
"So… Shirou's going to become a mob-boss now?" the drunkard sounded sceptical.
"It's Yakuza, and it won't be straight away," she clarified, "we're just going to let Grandpa know now."
"Fine, fine," the drunkard replied before splaying herself across the now empty table, "I'll just take a nap here then."
"Try to avoid drinking all the Sake," Shirou said, causing the problem to wave dismissively.
She shook her head, that drunkard was hopeless.
Moving out of the house she looked back at the boy and had to blink. How many times had she left his home with him in tow?
Most of the time she left earlier than him in the morning to supervise the early risers in the Archery club, and when she arrived in the evening there was no reason for him to leave the house with her.
Perhaps she could see about changing that at some point?
Maybe actually arrange a few trips away?
Thoughts for later.
An awkward silence reigned between her and her surrogate brother, well, whether he considered it awkward wasn't something she could tell, but it certainly was uncomfortable for her and she didn't really know how to break it.
Arriving at the front door of the Fujimura house, she opened the door and walked in, giving short greetings to the staff that were still milling about as she removed her shoes.
Shirou seemed to simply nod to them before returning to follow her.
"Ah, Emiya-san, can you remove your shoes please?" one of the guards asked, his tone far less authoritative than it would've been with a stranger.
"Oh, sorry," the boy responded and she blinked.
Looking over to him she watched as the shoe slid off before becoming shockingly rigid.
Which could only really mean one thing.
As they left the area she leaned closer to him and whispered.
"Do you even wear clothes anymore?" she recalled the state his uniform was in when he brought Tohsaka home but it had never appeared to be so much as creased afterwards.
She hadn't truly considered it before but recalling how his entire mass changed and there was no sign of his uniform, she had the sneaking suspicion that he was actually walking around naked.
"No… they just get in the way," he responded, his tone the same blank monotone it usually was.
"You didn't have to remove your outer layer like that," she muttered, "can you even put it back on?"
"… I don't know," his response made her raise an eyebrow, "this is really a bit of an experiment for myself anyway."
She released a tired sigh as she nodded her head.
Of course it would be an experiment.
These days that was the main thing he did.
She opened the door to her grandfather's study and walked in with a quick 'hello grandpa.'
Raiga for his part looked straight past her and at Shirou.
"Hello Taiga-chan, hello Shirou-chan," her grandfather said, his tone perfectly amicable, "I assume this isn't a social visit."
She nodded as they both took a seat across from him.
"Yeah, we're here to talk about succession," she declared and he nodded.
"So, have you come to a decision Taiga-chan?'" he asked, his gaze returning to meet her eyes.
"I'm abdicating," she declared, "Shirou will take over."
Her grandfather looked at Shirou and then the red head nodded.
Raiga for his part raised a single eyebrow but that was the extent of the interaction.
"In that case, I shall prepare the proper paperwork and ceremony," her grandfather said, "though I suppose I need to talk to Shirou about other matters."
Her grandfather wouldn't leave her out of anything that really impacted her, so she simply gave a somewhat formal bow.
"I will take my leave then," god she sounded pretentious when she tried to speak like that.
"Have a good night Taiga-chan," he responded and she rose from her seat and left the room.
Now that there was no going back on that, it was time for bed.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Shirou sat across from Raiga as the old man poured a cup of Sake.
"I would offer you some, however I doubt it would make any difference to you," the man that was like a surrogate grandfather to him said.
He simply nodded.
"I don't consume anything but blood now," he admitted, causing the old man to nod as he took a sip of the Sake.
"I must say, I have heard you did something that terrified my granddaughter," Raiga spoke, there was no judgement in his tone, "I wish to see what exactly it is that spooked my granddaughter so much."
As much as Taiga may have been strong for a human, she wasn't a seasoned as Raiga, beyond that she was caught off-guard by his state, meaning she hadn't been prepared for what was to come.
Raiga was prepared though.
With a thought, he shifted his body. The blades slid against each other as more popped into existence to fill whatever gaps were left behind and soon enough, he was a massive mass of writing blades that spread into almost tentacle-like appendages.
"This is the state Fuji-nee witnessed," he replicated the voice he used back then, he doubted he would get Sumire to shut up with it again, the first time had the advantage of being unexpected after all, but it was still something that was necessary to let Raiga know why it had spooked Fuji-nee.
"I see," the old man was visibly uneasy, however he was definitely handling it better than his granddaughter had.
He shifted back down, forcing the blades back to wherever they were stored as he retook a humanoid shape.
Moving a mass like that was not so easy, not after spending so long in a humanoid form.
So while it was useful for intimidation and aquatic combat, any attempt at using it on the ground just made him a bigger target.
Raiga took a few calming breaths.
The man may have been prepared for it and taken it better than Fuji-nee had, but it was still something that needed a couple of seconds for a regular human to get over.
"Now… I have heard that you wish to train with a swordsmith," the old man said and he nodded.
"Yes, the better I understand blades, the more I'll be able to consider when training my abilities," he stated formally.
"Now for the most important part," the old man said, his tone growing more serious, "I was expecting to have to convince you to take the position, I was most certainly not expecting you to agree so easily. I would like to know why you did."
"I recently met one of my mentor's friends," he started, "I don't like her but she brought up a point about influence having value."
"It most certainly does," the old man then looked him straight in his fake eyes and spoke with no hint of uncertainty in his tone, "and before I hand over the reins of this family to you, you will learn all about that."
Shirou found himself nodding.
It would be counterproductive to argue with him on this matter.
Besides, he might learn something vital from the lessons.
"When will we start?"
"Tomorrow," Raiga declared, "you won't have any issues with your health getting in the way, so I expect you to be there with no exceptions."
"Understood," he replied.
It was pointless to try to make excuses with Raiga. Unless something happened like Fuji-nee getting hospitalised, he wouldn't accept any reason for not being there for the first lesson.
"Do you need to sleep?" the Yakuza boss asked.
"No sir," he replied, keeping his responses formal and respectful.
"Then you can remain here for the night," the command was clear.
"May I inform my houseguest of this development?" he asked. He didn't really want Sumire to question where he was and come charging in after all.
He nodded before rising from his seated position.
"I will be back soon."
"See that you are."
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Reaching the front door of the Fujimura house, he looked at the 'shoes' he left.
Now would be the first real test.
Could he reintegrate parts of his body back into the full thing after they were removed?
Placing the fake shoe on his foot, he extended blades from his fake socks into the inside of the footwear before pouring a small amount of magical energy into the boot and trying to regain control of the blades.
His clothes were honestly little more than the fabric wrapped around the handles of blades he had copied that he had then reproduced and altered to cover his body.
His skin was still a work in progress however.
But because the point was an experiment, he had intentionally left blades within the shoes to interface with.
And with just a little effort he felt the blades return into his mass.
The entire process had taken about as long as it took for him to tie his fake shoelaces.
He repeated the process with the second shoe and was soon out of the building and heading towards his home. Entering the house he made his way straight to the dining room and moved to flick the drunkard's forehead.
His finger connected with flesh and the vampire jerked awake with a start before frantically searching around before finally focusing on him.
"… did you just flick me?" she asked, confusion evident in her tone.
"I am just here to let you know that I will be spending the night at the Fujimura house," he declared.
"… they have good booze don't they?"
"You're not coming," he declared without hesitation.
She shook her head before taking a swig of her bottle and blinking as the empty container provided no sake.
"I'm guessing there's more to taking over the local mafia than just saying you will," she muttered as she rose from her seat and headed straight for the booze cupboard.
"Raiga's going to teach me what I need to know to run a Yakuza family," he declared.
"I guess that makes sense," she said as she fished out a fresh bottle and flicked the cap off with a supernatural ease before taking a good several gulps.
Of course, the most important question he had was exactly what the first lesson would entail.
Raiga had responded to his comment about 'influence' but was that going to be the first lesson?
And more importantly, just how long would he be kept preoccupied by the lessons? He would have to hurry up and find Louvre if he wanted to beat the Clock Tower… but he didn't even know how close they were to finding him, just that they were closing in.
Was that narrowing his location down to a country or a mile?
He honestly had no idea and had no way of finding out either.
Would he still be getting lessons when Louvre was finally hunted down and slain? Would he miss his opportunity due to spending time learning how to run a Yakuza family?
In the end, he didn't really have any leads to follow even if he wanted to.
So spending time improving his powerbase and knowledge was probably the best thing he could do.
"Well… have fun," the drunkard said before taking another swig of her drink.
He simply nodded.
Was it even possible for him to have fun anymore?
An unimportant question for later.
For now, it was time to return to the Fujimura household and await morning lessons.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Rin awoke groggily yet again and stumbled towards her kitchen.
It had been a week without detecting Emiya at school and she found herself questioning whether the young apostle would even return to Fuyuki.
A person with such an interesting ability would naturally draw the attention of the powerful.
So the question was, was Emiya destroyed, captured, recruited or had he returned?
Her coffee was strong. As strong as she could make it without it turning to lumpy sludge. But she downed it quickly, ignoring the cheap taste of the instant she had used.
Coffee was a means to an end after all, just a boost that she needed in the morning to wake up properly. Wasting money on expensive stuff wasn't really worth it.
Slowly the morning carried on and she regained awareness of the world around her, eventually getting to a point where she was alert enough to prepare for school.
Hopefully Emiya-kun would be there.
But she did not expect it.
Walking along the street she let her thoughts wander.
What had Shirou encountered over the week? Sumire was known to live on the ocean floor, so it was plausible that Shirou had been to Atlantis… she doubted he needed to breathe with his body little more than a mass of blades.
Oh and the Water Bottle was known to be on friendly terms with the Artists Lady, so Shirou had probably met her too.
She shivered at the thought.
Shirou, meeting the one Ancestor that would pay her attention for more than just her magus heritage.
She hoped the monster never showed up in Fuyuki, she would almost certainly not survive the night.
Neither would Sakura.
She ignored the voice in the back of her head. That wasn't her concern anymore.
Releasing a sigh she walked on.
It washed over her like a wave of pressure, she could feel it all around her and roughly the direction it came from.
She could feel it invade her on a fundamental level.
And she knew exactly what it was.
Shirou was back.
She felt a tension in her body she hadn't realised was there wash away at the realisation.
She should be angry at him for analysing her like that, but he did that with everything and there was no malice in it, it was just how he perceived the world after all.
She had her sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell and magical sensitivity, he had facsimiles of sight, hearing and touch, and analysis.
Just how alien would it be to perceive the world the way he did? She didn't know, but she was certainly interested.
Unfortunately she couldn't replicate it. Her mind was limited in what it could process at once, her skill at structural analysis were almost certainly nowhere near Shirou's and most importantly, she still had her regular senses.
She decided to offer a small wave towards the direction the analysis was coming from, she may not be able to see him, but she knew he was there and he most certainly could perceive her.
It wouldn't be long before they joined up at the junction and she would be happy to speak to him once again.
Perhaps she could ask about wherever he went? As long as he went to places other than Atlantis or Rozay-En's castle, he should be able to talk freely enough.
Eventually she found her path coinciding with the metal-man and offered a light smile.
"I was honestly expecting to never see you again," she admitted.
"Why would you think that?" he asked.
"Fujimura-sensei told me about what happened," she said, "so I was expecting you to get in over your head and end up trapped somewhere."
"Sumire was very insistent on not getting involved with anyone not named Rita," he declared, his tone bland but his words giving away his own thoughts on the matter.
"So you met the Artists Lady? What was she like?"
"I want to stab her."
She couldn't stop the snort from leaving her mouth at his immediate and blunt response.
"I'm guessing you weren't allowed to then?" she said after regaining a semblance of composure.
"Sumire was very insistent that only she was allowed to kill her," he replied.
"Still, she's an actual magus, so I'm curious what you took away from meeting her," she said, her voice low despite expecting Shirou to avoid talking about this sort of stuff when others were around.
"…" he fell silent.
"Someone eavesdropping?" she whispered.
"No," he shook his head, "… I took away things from that meeting I would rather have never known."
Shirou was clearly not squeamish, he had walked off being attacked by Chaos after all, so for him to be so put out by whatever he had heard was not a good sign.
"Do you want to talk about it? We can speak at my house later," she offered.
"Sorry Tohsaka, my schedule is going to be pretty busy for the foreseeable future.
"… Fuji-nee abdicated succession of the Fujimura group, Raiga named me his successor."
"Wait… are… are you training to become a Yakuza boss?" she asked, suddenly very concerned about exactly what that would mean for her future.
"Yes, my first lesson was this morning," he responded without hesitation.
"Just certain customs and terms," he replied, "after school I will feed Fuji-nee and then return for further instruction."
The idea of Shirou taking over a Yakuza group may have been amusing… if it wasn't for him being a self-made Apostle, her having the official agreement of cooperation with the group and Shirou having the Geass contract that stopped her from informing anyone of his nature.
"To be clear, you are aware that the Fujimura group and Tohsaka family now have a formal agreement of cooperation?" she asked.
"Yes, I am," he acknowledged, "and I fully intend on upholding my part so long as you uphold yours."
Maybe this could work.
Perhaps Shirou could get a position within magical society similar to Van-Fem, Solomon or Blackmore? As an associate at the head of a Yakuza family, he would have resources that the Mages Association could benefit from.
On top of that, his personality was helpful enough that he could probably be deemed an asset.
She shook her head.
This wasn't the place to worry about that sort of stuff.
For now, she was just on her way to school with a friend.
… was she known as a friend of Shirou's?
She had been seen speaking with him on a couple of occasions, they both tended to leave the school immediately instead of staying for clubs and it was possible that people assumed she had been going to Emiya's house when leaving with Fujimura-sensei to teach her about the magical world.
… wait… had anyone started rumours about her and Shirou being an item?
That seemed like the sort of thing that might happen in a high school.
"Are you alright Tohsaka?" Emiya's voice cut in.
"Y-yeah… I just realised that it's possible rumours may have been started about us," she admitted.
She knew that Shirou had no interest in her that way, but it wouldn't stop teenagers from starting rumours.
"… possibly," he replied, his tone conveying nothing of his thoughts on the matter.
She furrowed her brow.
"Are you against those types of rumours going about?" she asked, a thought going through her head.
"Do they even matter?" he asked.
"I was just thinking, since we may end up working together and are two of the few people we can freely talk with about certain things… perhaps people thinking we're a couple could work in our favour."
She waited for his reaction.
"Are you suggesting we pretend to be a couple?" he asked, actually looking at her with his false eyes.
"Not necessarily, just that we don't deny any rumours," she clarified, "besides, it would stop us both from getting unwanted attention."
"From everyone except Shinji," he pointed out.
She rolled her eyes.
"Well the more pissed off he is the better," she muttered.
Shirou simply shrugged.
"Okay, I won't deny any allegations that we're a couple," he agreed and she felt herself relax.
Sure it wasn't real but it would at least get any potential suitors to back off.
Arriving at the school gates, she prepared herself for whatever it had in store for her.
"I'll see you later then Emiya-kun," she said, adjusting her tone to the livelier one she used in public.
"See you later Tohsaka."
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Matou Shinji hated it.
Everyone was whispering about Tohsaka and Emiya being close… too close.
The red-head had always pissed him off, he didn't know exactly why, but there was something in the boy's eyes that screamed that he didn't view him as anything different to the dirt.
Sure as children that look hadn't been there, but when it appeared… when it appeared it was unnerving and he hated it.
At least he had been able to take his frustration out on Sakura without repercussion.
Then there was the fact that Tohsaka kept hanging around Emiya. The boy wasn't worth her time. She shouldn't have wasted her breath on someone who wasn't from a long line of magi, yet there she was, regularly seen walking with him, even going with Emiya's legal guardian afterschool when he was sick.
Clenching his fist, he watched as the source of his frustrations entered the room.
That expression remained unchanged.
"Hey! Emiya!" he called out, rising from his seat and storming towards the ignorant civilian.
Emiya simply sat in his seat and ignored him.
"Hey! Are you deaf, I'm talking to you Emiya," he said, making no effort to hide his venom.
"You assume I care."
He nearly broke a tooth with how hard he ground it.
Slamming his palms onto the desk in front of Emiya, he made his ire known.
"Do you honestly think some no name orphan like you deserves to be with Tohsaka?" he spat out.
"Matou!" the trainee priest called out, his tone outraged.
"Funny," the red head responded, his tone completely unfazed, "from what I was aware, you are the shame of your family, so what makes you think you deserve to be with Tohsaka?"
He clenched his fists, lifting them off the table and throwing a punch.
Sure he would get in trouble with the faculty but his family had the resources to wipe such a stain under the rug and he would get the satisfaction of wiping that vacant expression off Emiya's face.
His fist missed and he nearly lost his balance.
Steadying himself he blinked before a series of arms grabbed him from behind.
"That's enough Matou! We're taking you to the teachers lounge," the trainee priest declared.
"Shut up Ryuudou! He's asking for it!"
Soon he found himself being dragged out of the classroom and brought before the teachers lounge.
"What is the problem Issei?" Kuzuki-sensei said, his voice monotonous.
"Matou was antagonising Emiya, hurled a personal insult and when Emiya responded in kind, Matou tried to punch him," the trainee priest summarised and the other student that was helping him nodded their agreement.
"I see," Kuzuki-sensei said, "I will make sure Matou-san is punished appropriately."
Shinji grit his teeth.
Emiya was going to pay for this.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Lunch started and Shinji had not returned to class.
From what he could analyse, Shinji's grandfather had been called in and the boy was sent home.
Shirou doubted it would stick.
Shinji's grandfather was apparently a magus so soon enough the man would arrive to 'fix' whatever problem had been raised and Shinji would be back in no time.
It was also the reason he had withdrawn his analysis range and relied on his facsimiles of senses for most of the day.
He didn't want an experienced magus to pick up on what he was doing after all.
A knock sounded on the door and soon the door opened to reveal Tohsaka standing at the entrance of the classroom.
"Hello, is Emiya-kun available?" she asked and he rose from his seat without hesitation and walked over to her.
"Hello Rin," he decided to use her first name, if she wanted people to believe they were in a relationship, then using her given name would help.
The class seemed to watch on intently as he left and Tohsaka followed him.
"Where do you want to go?" he asked.
"Let's go to the roof," she responded quickly, "there's more space to talk up there."
He nodded and soon they reached the roof.
Looking over it, he noted that there wasn't anyone else in the area.
"So… are you really Emiya?" she asked and he blinked.
Oh, of course, he still hadn't extended his analysis range.
"Sorry, Shinji tried to punch me and his grandfather was called," he explained, "I didn't want to risk an experienced magus detecting me."
She nodded in obvious relief as he extended his range a little more before freezing.
What in the world was that thing?!
He stared straight at the location the thing was hidden and Rin turned her own gaze in that direction.
"What's wrong Emiya-kun?" she asked, unable to see it due to the obstructions.
"It appears to be a cross between a worm and a penis… it also has something that resembles a magic circuit within," he explained and Rin immediately winced.
"Shit," she muttered even as he adjusted his body to reach and impale it.
"Whatever it is, it's dead now, but I don't think I should keep my analysis field up until we know what they are and that there aren't more of them," he declared as he retracted the implement he used to kill the thing, "do you have any idea what it is?"
She shook her head.
"No, but Kirei might," Rin replied before grimacing as she moved towards it, "d-do you have anything I could store it in?"
He nodded before projecting a case and handing it to her.
"How long will this last?" she asked and he shrugged.
"I don't know," he admitted, causing her to raise an eyebrow at him, "I still have a washing machine I projected years ago stored away in my shed."
Her eyelid twitched before she took a deep breath.
"Right… Reality Marble… different rules," she muttered under her breath as he placed the… whatever the hell it was, inside the box and locked it behind a combination lock, "so… the combination is?"
"I thought six six six would be easy enough to remember," he replied.
"… is this in reference to Chaos or the New Testament?" she asked.
"New Testament," he admitted, "you wear a cross when not at school and have a priest as your legal guardian, so I assumed you would remember that number."
She nodded and he handed the box to her.
Immediately she put it under her arm.
"I'm going to have to carry this thing until I get my bag," she said and he nodded.
"Well, is there anything else we have to discuss?" he asked.
"We could just talk for a while."
He tilted his head.
He supposed it wouldn't hurt to spend a little time with her.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
"Why the hell didn't you just hypnotise the teachers dammit!" Shinji yelled but Zouken was unfazed.
There was nothing the boy could do that would so much as hamper him.
The only reason Shinji remained alive was because he was useful in maintaining Sakura's physical state, yet that usefulness had gotten to the boy's head and made him arrogant.
But at least that arrogance had given him a little knowledge he had lacked before.
"Because you are arrogant and need a reminder that you're replaceable," he stated. The boy may have been his own blood, but in the end, if the boy didn't fulfil a role properly, then he could easily find another to take his place.
Shinji tsked in response.
"The one who's arrogant is Emiya," the youth declared with venom in his tone.
"Emiya is not arrogant," he declared.
"That no name orphan thinks he's better than me!" Shinji declared.
"He is better than you," Zouken informed the brat bluntly.
"Like hell he is!" Shinji's anger was swelling at that dismissal, "I may not have any magic circuits but I at least have knowledge of magecraft!"
"And that boy used magecraft to find and kill one of my Crest Worms," he stated.
He could see Shinji freeze, his eyes closing their fire as what he was told sunk in.
"W-wait… you mean…"
"Emiya Shirou is a magus," Zouken informed the boy, "from what I overheard, it appears that he usually uses magecraft to increase his awareness of his surroundings. Outside of that, all I can say is that he appears to use some form of metallic based magecraft."
Shinji sunk into his seat.
"So… so what's his relationship with Tohsaka?" Shinji asked, "if she knows about him then that means he's permitted to stay here doesn't it?"
"What of Tohsaka?" Zouken asked, "the Makiri and Tohsaka only co-operate because it is necessary for our bloodline to survive."
Shinji's teeth grit.
"She's meant to be with me," he said through gritted teeth.
"Why in the world would she waste her time on you?" Zouken asked, did Shinji honestly think that a family of mages with an extensive magic crest would settle for a weak blooded boy from a dying family?
"Dammit!" the boy snapped, his fist striking against the arm of his chair.
"Tohsaka will likely move to London to attend the Clock Tower," Zouken said, "and you would be nothing more than a liability in such a place."
"You went to the Clock Tower!" Shinji declared.
"And unlike you, I am powerful enough to make even seasoned Dead Apostles hesitate to come to this city," he stated bluntly, "you however can be easily restrained by a pair of average Japanese high schoolers."
Shinji turned to face away from him.
It was the plain and simple truth.
After himself, every Matou born had been a shadow of the one that came before. To call Shinji even a shadow of what he was in his youth was to give the boy too much credit.
"You will cease antagonising Emiya and apologize to him before he decides that you are worth his time to kill," he declared. It was not a request. Shinji wouldn't stand a chance against even the weakest of magi without some method of evening the playing field and as annoying as the brat was, he was still his family.
And he would rather his bloodline didn't die out even if it failed to produce magi. Sakura may have originally held the potential to produce a strong child, but with the adjustments done to her body to make her a Makiri, it was unlikely she would even be able to conceive a child.
Meaning the continuation of his family fell on Shinji.
The sooner the boy lost his grandiosity and accepted that he was worthless in the magical world, the better.
"I do not want to-"
"You will apologize to Emiya," he interrupted the brat and Shinji once again faced away from him.
If the boy couldn't even maintain eye-contact with him, then he had no right to consider himself above legitimate magi.
"We shall visit the Emiya household later tonight," he declared, "and you shall apologize to Emiya for your rudeness. Do not make me send you to the basement."
Shinji's eyes widened and he stared at him, his jaw slack before tears started to well up in his eyes.
"Cease your snivelling," he commanded.
Shinji wiped his eyes but his body continued to shiver.
Zouken just hoped the boy wouldn't cause him any more problems.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Rin returned home and released a sigh as she opened her bag and pulled the case containing the creature.
She felt sick just knowing it was near her.
She felt even sicker not knowing if there were more of them close by.
But she would persevere. At least here they shouldn't be capable of entering the area without triggering her Bounded Fields.
Picking up the phone she called her so-called 'legal guardian' and waited for the man to pick up.
It took too long for the man to pick up, but that was normal, he enjoyed making people wait as long as possible when answering the phone after all.
"Greetings child, this is the Fuyuki Parish Church," he started off his typical spiel before she cut him off.
"I know Kirei," she dismissed.
"Ah, Rin… for what reason have you called me today?" the man sounded amused, but then again, when did he not?
"While I was at school I encountered something… strange," she admitted.
"Oh? I believed that the issue from a couple of weeks ago was no longer here," he declared and she blinked.
Oh yeah… Nrvnqsr Chaos.
"Is it? She asked, she knew that Chaos was no longer in Fuyuki, the lack of mass disappearances was evidence of that but since Kirei didn't know that she had encountered him she was going to pretend she was unaware.
"Indeed," Kotomine declared casually.
"Either way… I discovered some type of…" she couldn't believe she was about to say this to Kotomine, "phallic worm at school."
"Ah, one of Matou Zouken's Crest Worms I presume?" Kotomine answered without hesitation and she froze.
"What are those?" she asked, it was one thing she had never looked into, what with how the agreement prevented her from having any real reason to mingle with the Matou.
"They're Matou Zouken's familiars," Kirei said, his tone casual and her mouth turned dry, "from my understanding, they make up the majority of his body too… there was even a case in the last Grail War of a Matou who used them as makeshift magic circuits, though the strain they placed on his body eventually killed him."
She couldn't stop herself from breathing heavily.
Those things went inside people?
Zouken was made out of those things?!
"H-hold on just a second!" she called out, "if that's the case then why isn't he being treated as a Dead Apostle?!"
"Technicality alone," he responded, his voice tinged with a hint of something she never thought she'd hear in Kotomine's voice… distaste, "it is purely the fact that he maintains his form by devouring flesh instead of blood that stops him from being declared such a thing."
"Then why is he still allowed to walk around?" she asked. It didn't make sense for something like Zouken to be allowed to exist. With a body made of worms like that, with a penchant for flesh, there was no way such a being should be overlooked.
"Mainly because of his connections within the Clock Tower and most Enforcers and Executors being unwilling to try and kill him when he is so powerful," Kotomine answered, "in the end, all he needs is to get a single Crest Worm inside your body and it can devour whatever it needs to in order to kill whoever is hunting him."
She felt bile rising up in her throat.
It sounded as if there was no reason to fight Zouken and every reason to avoid him.
Beyond that, there didn't appear to be any unusual levels of missing people meaning he wasn't voraciously mowing his way through innocents like Chaos did.
But most of all… she was harbouring two actual Dead Apostles in her city anyway and her family made an agreement with the man when she was still a child.
"Rin, do not do anything stupid," Kotomine stated, his tone could almost be described as worried but she dismissed it, the man wouldn't care if she was eaten by such a magus.
"I won't," she agreed.
And unlike last time, she had every intention of doing as he suggested.
After all, the last time she ignored him she was almost eaten by Nrvnqsr Chaos… she did not want a repeat of that experience thank you.
"Good bye Kirei," she said as she put the phone down.
Releasing a breath she didn't know she had been holding she considered everything that she had learned.
If those things were Zouken's familiars then that would mean the man would be able to share his senses with them… which meant that he probably already knew that Shirou was a magus.
Whether he knew Shirou was an Apostle was another matter entirely, but she could at least assume the monster knew Shirou was capable of magecraft.
So now she would have to inform Shirou of this development.
She also wouldn't have to worry about Zouken outing Shirou since the man must have known she knew due to the conversation she had with Emiya before the Crest Worm was killed.
Taking another breath, she picked up the phone again and dialled a different number.
The phone took a while to be answered but when it was, she felt a migraine pop into existence.
"Hello~!" the sing-song voice was clearly inebriated, "this is the Emiya-residence, this is Shirou's Onee-chan speaking!"
"You're not his sister," she deadpanned to the drunkard, "anyway, this is Tohsaka, is Shirou around?"
"Nope," Sumire responded, "he's away learning how to be a mob-boss!"
She had to resist the urge to chuckle at the blunt description she gave.
"So he's not there… dammit… anyway, can you pass on a message to him?" she asked.
"The thing we found was a familiar of Shinji's grandfather… he probably knows he's a magus," she explained, "are you writing it down?"
"Huh?" the drunken vampire responded in confusion.
"I don't trust you to remember, so write it down," she said.
"Tsk… fine fine…" and with that the sound of drawers opening and closing sounded across the phone until eventually, "okay, got a pen and paper… what was the message again?"
"That's exactly why I wanted you to write it down," she stated before repeating what she had explained earlier, "got it?"
"Got it," Sumire replied and she felt a weight leave her shoulders.
"In that case, goodbye Sumire," she said.
"Bye~!" and with that she put the phone down.
At this rate she would be driven to drink.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Shirou sat in a bar with Raiga.
It wasn't a bar he was familiar with, at least the Copenhagen regulars knew who he was due to his connection with Fuji-nee's friend Neko-san… but even here, no one questioned his presence in the bar.
But beyond that, every member of staff gave the old Yakuza more attention than anyone else, making special arrangements for him but there was no hint of fear in their body language.
Raiga was drinking a saucer of Sake, his posture relaxed before he spoke.
"Tell me Shirou-chan, why do you think everyone here is so relaxed?" it was a simple question and he decided there was probably a simple answer.
They obviously knew who Raiga was, the special treatment screamed that much, but the lack of fear probably meant…
"They trust you to not harm them?" he guessed.
"They trust me to not misuse the power I have," he responded and Shirou tilted his head.
"Isn't that the same?" he asked.
"It's close, in most cases it's close enough to be the same thing," the old man replied, "however, there is a difference between simply not harming them and misusing my power."
Shirou focused intently on the man as he took another sip before continuing.
"You can avoid harming people by doing nothing," the man started, "by doing nothing you do not impact their lives and whatever fate befalls them, you cannot be held responsible."
"That seems like a callous way of looking at things," he responded.
"Indeed it is," the old man agreed, "but not using power can itself be construed as misusing it, for if you have the power, the correct thing to do is to use it."
Shirou tilted his head yet again.
"By using my power for the correct purposes, I can aid people in need of help, by applying my power to other areas, I can gain the respect of others and in turn, gain their support, adding to my powerbase," the old Yakuza declared, "this bar for example pays me protection money, in exchange, I do what I can to keep this bar afloat."
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"While this may not be true of every Yakuza family," Raiga stressed, "the Fujimura Group does what it can to ensure that businesses under our protection are as secure as possible. Should a fire break out, then we will provide them with lawyers to argue for higher compensation from their insurance provider, should anyone attempt to shut them down for whatever reason, we provide support to keep them open."
Shirou nodded. It wasn't that surprising honestly.
"In the end, I have the power to help them when they need it, but in exchange they feed into my powerbase so I can supply them the aid they need when necessary," the old man continued.
"Well, that's pretty obvious," he stated.
"Obvious yes…" the old man admitted before looking him in his fake eyes, "however the question I have for you is simple, do you truly understand it?"
Shirou tilted his head.
"I know the sort of person you are Shirou," Raiga stated, his tone firm, "and I find myself believing that you will struggle to internalise this lesson properly."
"Why would you think that?" he asked.
"Because you're too generous," the Yakuza boss declared.
Shirou couldn't deny that, he did have a habit of helping people but what was Raiga trying to get at?
"What are you trying to say Gramps?" he asked.
"Can you push aside your desire to help others and take from them in order to make sure you have what you need to help them in the long run?" his surrogate grandfather asked, "are you willing to work with people with methods you don't like for the greater good?"
Shirou was about to respond when he remembered Rita.
He wanted to kill her. There was no doubt about that. But she was powerful and she was knowledgeable. Could he push aside his distaste for her and work with her if he needed to?
Uncertainty welled up within him.
He wanted to say that he could, he had avoided killing her after all. But if Sumire hadn't stopped him, and if Rita hadn't made him question so many things to distract him, would he be able to abide her?
"I don't know," he admitted.
"And that is exactly why this lesson is important," Raiga stated, "there are times when you must put aside your feelings on a matter and do what results in the greatest benefit for the most people."
Shirou sank into his mind as Raiga returned to sipping his Sake.
Where would he draw the line?
What was he unwilling to allow and who was he willing to work with?
The greater his powerbase, the greater the influence he could exert over the world and those who are suffering. Could he ignore the small evils and focus on the bigger picture?
In the modern era millions of people die every day and millions more are born.
Sumire's statement had come across as callous and cruel… but there was a kernel of truth in it and from what Raiga was saying, she had a point even when coming from the issue from a different angle.
A few people may suffer so that more can be saved.
You can't save everyone.
Even Kiritsugu had expressed that sentiment and as much as he resented the man, there were more people, people he had grown to trust, that now told him something similar.
He needed to find the balance between using those he couldn't abide and saving people.
"Well, let's go somewhere else," Raiga said as he finished his Sake, "there is only so much I can teach you about our operations here."
He nodded as he moved to follow.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Matou Shinji felt sick.
Emiya Shirou was a magus. That was not right.
The boy was just some random orphan, magi were supposed to come from long lineages. Beyond that, Emiya and Tohsaka were apparently a thing…
He hated it.
What stung even more however, was his grandfather's mockery of him, telling him that he never stood a chance of being with Tohsaka despite his heritage.
He could feel his nails digging into his palm as he clenched, if he broke skin then that didn't matter.
What mattered was that as soon as Sakura had come home from the school she was sent to, the same one that Tohsaka had gone to before moving up to Homurahara, his grandfather had sent her down to the basement for her daily 'training' before practically dragging him out of the house and walking along the street towards the Emiya Residence.
Their movement was slow, his grandfather had no interest in rushing after all, but all it did was give Shinji even more time to stew in his resentment.
He was going to have to apologize to Emiya of all people.
He pushed down the bile that was trying to rise in his throat.
It was unbearable.
Eventually however, they got close to the home of Emiya before his grandfather stopped walking, his interest clear on his face.
"My, what an interesting Bounded Field," the ancient magus muttered, "if I didn't already know to search for it, I would have never even noticed it."
Shinji felt his teeth grit.
Emiya was apparently skilled enough to create a Bounded Field that impressed even his grandfather?
"It can't be that impressive," he muttered.
"It is not impressive," his grandfather stated causing him to jerk in surprise, "it is interesting that it is so subtle, nothing more than a barrier designed to pick up on intent. It offers no protection outside of forewarning."
"It is a bounded field designed not for protection, but hiding," his grandfather declared, "then again, Emiya Kiritsugu wasn't known for his magecraft."
"Wait, you mean you knew Emiya's father was a magus?!" he asked, his anger rising.
"Emiya Kiritsugu was a master of the Fourth Grail War and a decade before that, he was one of the most effective assassins in the magical world," his grandfather stated, "however, he merely adopted a child, so I assumed he wouldn't have taught the boy."
That calmed his fury. Emiya was just a first-generation brat without any real accomplishments to his name.
"So he's just a brat without any proper training," he muttered.
"The boy is still better than you," his grandfather stated and he grimaced, "at least he can use magecraft."
He wanted nothing more than to show his grandfather he was wrong about him, but in the end, he couldn't really do anything to do so.
Eventually they reached the front door and his grandfather rang the doorbell.
It took too long for someone to answer it and the moment they did he felt his ire rise once again.
It was a beautiful woman with a Sake bottle, wearing a Yukata and with wavy black hair.
So Emiya was not only attempting to seduce Tohsaka, he also lived with some drunken older woman?
"Hello~!" the woman called out, her eyes closed as she nearly toppled over, "this is the Emiya residence, Shirou isn't home right now so you're stuck with me! His Onee-san!"
Shinji grit his teeth.
To think that this beautiful older woman would call herself Emiya's 'Onee-chan'.
Then the woman opened her eyes, before her brow furrowed.
The scowl that adorned her face afterwards made him question the woman's personality.
"I thought I sensed something vile… what are you doing here Makiri Zolgen?" he froze.
What did she say?
"Sumire… I must admit, I was not expecting to see a Dead Apostle Ancestor here," his grandfather stated.
Shinji's heart skipped a beat.
Dead Apostle Ancestor?
Weren't they the most dangerous beings in the world?
"And I wasn't expecting to see something like you squirming around here," she responded, "now, would you care to explain exactly why you are here before I destroy you?"
Shinji started to back away.
If Emiya had gotten himself involved with something like that, then the Church would need to know.
"… my grandson has been antagonising Emiya-san, we are simply here to apologize for his actions," his grandfather stated.
The woman frowned before looking behind herself then back at his grandfather.
"Why aren't there any of your damn worms creeping up behind me?" she asked.
"I am sincere in my reasons for being here," his grandfather stated, "attempting to kill you would only result in making an unwanted enemy."
The woman stared at him before releasing a sigh.
"Well, Shirou's away learning how to be a mob-boss, so he isn't available right now," she replied and Shinji blinked.
"What the hell do you mean he's 'learning how to be a mob-boss'?" he demanded before feeling a solid slap strike the back of his head courtesy of his grandfather.
"Watch your tone boy, Sumire is not a being we want as an enemy," his grandfather's tone was severe and he winced.
"Well, since Taiga-chan doesn't want to take over the local mafia, Shirou was chosen instead," the drunken woman declared.
Shinji gaped in response.
"What do you mean the local mafia?" he couldn't help himself.
"The Fujimura Group is the local Yakuza family," his grandfather declared, "since they live next door, I assume Fujimura Raiga is close to young Emiya-san."
"Apparently," Sumire replied before taking another swig of her bottle.
"May I ask when Emiya-san will be back?" his grandfather asked and the woman shrugged.
"Dunno, he might be staying next door for all I know," she said dismissively.
It was… a strange experience to see someone his grandfather wasn't in a position of power over. Every time he had seen his grandfather talk with someone until now, the man had always been a commanding presence, yet here… here that presence washed over the woman with about as much force as a light breeze.
She wasn't scared of him, didn't respect him and most of all, had the air of someone who knew they were dealing with someone less than themselves.
"In that case, we shall be on our way," his grandfather responded, "I apologize for wasting your time."
The woman waved him off.
"Yeah yeah… I doubt you'll report me to the Church given how they hate you even more than they hate me," she responded, and Shinji found himself looking at his grandfather in confusion as the door was closed in their faces.
"Grandfather, why did that woman call you 'Makiri Zolgen' and why would the Church hate you more than her?" he asked.
After all, she seemed rather familiar with his grandfather and for the Church to hate someone more than a Dead Apostle wasn't normal.
"That is none of your concern," his grandfather dismissed and he tsked in response, "do you wish to spend a night in the pit?"
He cringed at that threat.
"Now, our next stop is next door," his grandfather stated, causing him to glare at his grandfather, "even if Emiya-san is not there, we should be able to meet with him when he returns."
Shinji felt his teeth grit once again.
Emiya had a connection to both Tohsaka and a Dead Apostle Ancestor.
He didn't want to admit it, but it appeared that his judgement of the orphan may have been off.
It just made him want to apologize even less than before.
But it appeared that his grandfather was not going to let him out of it no matter how things went.
Even so… just because his grandfather couldn't go to the Church about the matter, didn't mean he couldn't.
XXX Tainted Steel XXX
Shirou was deep in thought by the time he returned to the Fujimura household.
He was nowhere near ready to take over and Raiga knew that.
So there would be no inheritance ceremony until he was prepared.
Entering the house, he was greeted by a member of the staff.
"Excuse me Emiya-san, there is someone here to speak with you," he tilted his head, who could possibly be there to speak with him?
He hated the fact that he was worried about those worm-like things, if he wasn't then he could keep his analysis field active.
Oh wait, perhaps it was Tohsaka with news on the matter?
Turning the corner and entering the waiting room he found himself staring at Matou Shinji and his grandfather.
"Hello Emiya-san," Shinji's grandfather spoke, "I believe my grandson has acted inappropriately towards you."
The man then motioned Shinji forwards and the boy did as instructed, though his teeth were grit.
"… I apologize for my behaviour Emiya-san," he forced out, "it was unacceptable of me and I shall not act in such a manner again."
Shirou was confused.
What was he supposed to do in a situation like this?
"I accept your apology," Shirou said, unsure of how he would be coming across.
Dammit… he would have to have lessons with Raiga about this soon.
Shinji's grandfather nodded.
"Thank you for your acceptance, it would pain me if my grandson got himself in trouble with someone in your position," the man declared and Shirou found himself questioning whether the man meant a future Yakuza head, or if he had somehow discovered what he was.
"Is that everything?" he asked.
"Indeed, again, I apologize for Shinji's behaviour and promise you that he will not do such a thing again," the old man said before motioning for Shinji to follow as they proceeded to leave the room, "goodbye Emiya-san."
He nodded even as Shinji held his tongue, his expression making it perfectly clear that he hated what had just happened.
Soon the pair were outside the house and Shirou moved to the main meeting room and found Raiga now seated, a bottle of Sake and a saucer before him as Taiga sat at the side, her own saucer sitting before her.
"Hello Fuji-nee," he said.
"So Shinji's grandfather made him apologize huh?" she asked, a wry smile on her face.
"Yeah… I would have preferred it if he hadn't shown up… but hopefully it won't cause any complications," he acknowledged.
"What do you mean?" she asked and he noted that Raiga was also raising an eyebrow in response.
"Shinji's family is a magus family," he informed them, "according to Tohsaka, Shinji lacks the ability to use magecraft but his grandfather is another matter."
"So I guess meeting with him was a bit of a risk huh?"
At least it was over.
Next he just had to find out about the worm thing.
Hopefully things would calm down after that.
"Gramps, can you teach me how to accept apologies?" he asked, causing the man to blink.
"I assume you mean a formal apology?" Raiga asked and he nodded.
"Well… in that case I suppose we can start your lessons on formal meetings."
It would be a long night but he was used to those.
And that's all for now.