Emiya Shirou was dead.

It was the only thing that made sense given the circumstances.

He had been doing…something…and was now standing inside his Reality Marble. He was pretty sure that he hadn't been fighting, though, and was almost certain that he hadn't uttered the command to call forth Unlimited Blade Works.

It was, after all, quite taxing on someone who was almost ninety-seven years old.

No, the last thing he remembered was seeing the aged face of his lifelong companion, Tohsaka Rin.

Shirou had entertained the idea of marrying her many times over his life, but he knew that his heart would always belong to another. Not that he didn't love Rin, but she….she would always hold that special place in his heart, even though he only knew her for two weeks.

That's right…he was in the hospital. He could no longer recall what ailment had sent him there, but he knew that his time was approaching. His voice had long since stopped working, probably due to whatever sickness he had, but he was able to look at Rin right before he passed, his eyes asking the questions that his voice could not.

She had gently taken his hand in hers, and smiled at him.

"I love you too, Emiya Shirou," she had said to him, "Now, go to her. I think she has waited long enough."

His look had changed then, asking a different question.

"Don't even think that. You have made me happier than I ever imagined possible. I regret absolutely nothing, so you can't either. Now, quit stalling here and go to her," she replied, the same loving smile still on her face.

He had lowered his head back onto the pillow, squeezed her hand as best he could in his weakened state, and died with a smile on his face.

Standing up for the first time inside the endless field of blades, he realized that all the aches and pains he had long since become accustomed to were absent, and upon glancing at his hand, he realized that they were no longer the frail digits of an old man, but the strong ones he had known in his youth.

He also noticed two other things about his hand. It was partially covered by the blue sleeve to a uniform he hadn't worn in decades, and on the back of it, peeking out from under the cuff, was the one concession he had made to himself over the years. The tattoo of his Command Seals.

Many people had asked him about it, as his marking wasn't exactly normal. Some people had in fact quietly glared at him. He would just laugh and tell them it was a reminder, with a bit of a distant look in his eye. Most people would leave it at that, and those that didn't were met with a polite change of subject.

The only people who knew the true story behind it were Rin and Sakura, and she had passed on many years ago.

Shaking himself out of his memories, Shirou decided to start walking, not knowing what else to do. He had only gone a few steps, though, when he felt something twinge in his left hand. It started to stir something from his past, but he found himself unable to focus on it enough to remember completely. Shaking his head, he took a few more steps.

And then he felt it again, this time stronger. A strange feeling coming from his left hand.

No.

Not just from his left hand, but what was on his left hand.

The tattoo's of his Command Seals.

Concentrating on the feeling, he took a couple more steps forward, and noticed that the twinge was getting stronger…almost painful.

He decided to see what would happen if he walked the other way, but only got a little past halfway turned around before the mark twinged again.

"This way?" he asked, rather intrigued by the mark on his skin. Though it looked no different to him than the direction he had ben going, he somehow knew that he wasn't supposed to go that way.

"Right. This way it is, then," he spoke, before setting off towards the horizon.

Xxxxxxxxxx

He had no idea how long he had been walking. Time here had no meaning. It could have been minutes, days, even years, but he kept moving. He had eventually passed out of the barren wasteland of blades, leaving just the barren wasteland.

That had eventually given way to gently rolling hills, which bled into forest covered mountains. Again, he had no concept of time or distance, but he knew that he was getting closer to his destination.

The forests eventually leveled out, and began to thin, and he started to come across small clearings in the trees, filled with naught but grass.

These grassy spaces slowly grew in size and frequency, until they became more common than the trees. He eventually came to a stop on top of a small hill, the grass around him swaying gently in the breeze.

"Well, I'm here," he murmured, "Though I don't know where here is…."

"Does it truly matter, Shirou?" a voice asked from behind him.

Shirou just closed his eyes and smiled. He supposed that he should be worried that someone had managed to sneak up behind him like that, but he knew that he had nothing to fear from the speaker. Far from it, rather.

He had longed to hear that voice again, and it sounded just like he remembered it. The breeze shifted slightly, and it carried her scent to him. Though he could never name it, there was no mistaking it. He had only ever caught it when he was around her, and it hadn't been until after she was gone that he truly noticed it. Well, its absence.

"No, I suppose not," he replied, before turning around. Opening his eyes, he took in the sight….of her.

She looked just like she did the last time he saw her, with those endless green eyes framed by blonde hair, fluttering in the breeze. She even had that one rebellious strand still standing up.

The white dress he hadn't seen before, but there was no mistaking the smile she wore.

Oh how he had missed being around her. It didn't matter what was happening, she had always made him feel better.

Pulling her into a gentle hug, he whispered, "I'm home, Saber."

She just sighed happily into his shoulder, returning the hug. "Welcome home, Shirou."

AN: i know i havent updated in forever, but i promise i havent abandoned anything. my stories WILL be updated again, im just not sure when. also, this is my first foray into Fate/Stay Night, which is an excellent series for anyone who doesnt know if it. the anime and movie are pretty good, though i must say that the visual novel is better. the soundtrack for the VN is just awesome, especially since it inspired this story.

as to this story, its set after some combination of the fate and ubw routes.

oh. and as to the content ban and everyone seemingly leaving the site, i currently intend to stay here. none of my works (as of this moment anyway) have been removed yet, and i check every day.

if a ff net moderator ever reads this, i hope you realize that all youre doing with this sudden enforcement of policy is driving away the authors and readers that visit this site. if MA stories bother you that much, add a MA level to the content filter.

strikes me as a hell of a lot easier than trolling through the millions of fics here to delete the "improper" ones.