Chiho clapped enthusiastically as Uzume twirled in place, showing off the very elaborate princess gown she had made. It was a bright canary yellow, with ruffles along the skirt and a few strategically placed rhinestones over the bodice. To cap it off, she wore a simple tiara on a head of unusually free hair, bereft of it's usually pony tail. Uzume could easily say that this dress was the hardest she ever created due to the absurd amount of detail it had. Not only that, it took far too much effort to put on at all, what with all the lacey under things needed to support the rest of it. Adding the fact that she generally disliked looking as girly as she did at that moment, she had never really expected to finish or wear the outfit, even though Chiho had expressed an interest in seeing her dressed like a princess.
Then again, today was a very special day.
"It's beautiful, Uzume!" The bedridden girl exclaimed. "I'm never seen an outfit so pretty!"
Uzume smiled at her Ashikabi's complement. "Yeah, I think I really out did myself this time. But, this isn't the only surprise I have for you."
"Yep!" With that, she walked over to the room's door and grasped the handle. Then, with a dramatic gesture, she stepped to the side and opened the door. "Ta-da!"
For some reason, Chiho simply looked at her confused. Uzume peered around the edge of the door and found that the source of her confusion was the fact that the doorway was empty. "Shirou! I thought I told you stand in the doorway till I opened the door!"
A voice in the hallway said "I still feel incredibly silly wearing this…"
Uzume rolled her eyes and walked out into the hall. "Oy, less Prince Whining, more Prince Dashing." She grabbed Shirou's arm and dragged him into room with her.
Shirou grumbled as he was led on by Uzume, and Chiho's eyes widened in surprise at the sight of the tall red head. He was dressed in a fancy blue tunic with white trousers, with a flowing blue cape hanging off the shoulders, though more notable was the silver armor he wore. It wasn't a full set, rather just a breast plate with some additional plating on the forearms and shins, but it did quite well to give it an extra air of nobility. When he had explained to Uzume what exactly he could do with his wizard powers, she insisted that he add those to the outfit. Although he was reluctant to put it on in the first place, she found that the old sad puppy dog face worked wonders in getting the young man to do what she wanted.
And to be fair to him, he really did look good in the outfit, like some kind of warrior prince. Uzume wanted Chiho's first impression of Shirou to be a good one, and judging by the slowly growing blush on her Ashikabi's face, she succeeded.
"Y-you're the Shirou-san Uzume has told me about?" she stuttered slightly as she looked him. Chiho had always been a fan of classical fairytale princes and princesses, which was part of the reason why Uzume had Shirou dress the part along with her. Given how long Chiho had been in the hospital, this was probably the first time she had ever seen a man that looked that prince like in person.
Of course, this was something of a case of the clothes making the man, seeing as how Shirou had shifted to his usual habit of rubbing the back of his head in nervousness. "Um, yes? I don't think Uzume knows any other Shirous…" He looked uncomfortable for a moment longer before recollecting himself. "I'm sorry, let me try that again. My name is Shirou Emiya. I will be in your care." He said this with a bow, though rather than doing it in the traditional Japanese manner with his hands at his sides, he unconsciously put his arms horizontally to the ground, with one in front and one in back in a rather gentleman like fashion.
Chiho's blush increased slightly at this. "I-I'm Chiho Hidaka. Please take care of me too."
Shirou walked towards the young woman, a slight frown on his face. "I'm sorry, is this a bad time? You're looking somewhat flushed…"
Uzume held back a snicker has Shirou continued to look confused. Apparently, as smart as he was, he was kinda dense when it came to girls. Uzume herself had been a little unsure how exactly her Ashikabi regarded the opposite sex, but it now seemed she liked them just fine. Of course, it probably helped that her first real interaction with a male in a long time involved a rather handsome man dressed like Prince Charming.
"Ah! No, no, I'm fine!" Chiho said quickly.
Heh, Chiho's so cute when she's flustered, Uzume thought to herself while trying to keep the laugher in.
Shirou, still not picking up any clues, leaned in a bit closer to inspect her face. "Are you sure? You're face is rather red. How are you feeling?"
It was at this point Chiho seemed to lose her nerve and blurted out "I'm feeling fine! I just see why Uzume was thinking about a threesome with you!"
And suddenly it wasn't so funny anymore.
Chiho, having realized what she just said, suddenly lost all of the color that had been accumulating in her face and turned white. With a loud "Eep!" she dove under the covers as if to hide from the embarrassing statement she just made. Shirou's head turned to Uzume with glacial slowness, an eyebrow twitching furiously and his mouth slightly open. Uzume herself had suddenly seemed to gain all the redness that Chiho just lost and then some.
"I-I… that, I mean… I was joking, bro!" she stammered out, her face feeling like it was about to burst into flames.
As Shirou palm meet his face, Uzume thought to herself Maybe he made too good of an impression…
After everyone had calmed down from the little… incident, the three of them went outside for a walk, Uzume pushing Chiho around in a wheelchair. After most of the embarrassment had faded, Shirou and Chiho were getting along quite well, with Shirou talking about the mundane parts of his life while Chiho listened and sometimes questioned him. In particular, she seemed most interested in how her Sekirei faired in the world outside the hospital.
"I'm so happy Uzume has a friend like you, Shirou." She said, looking at the red head with a smile. "I was worried that she'd never find anyone besides me she could be happy spending time with."
"Chiho…" Uzume said with some embarrassment. "You know that I would have been fine even if I only had you."
"Perhaps, but you shouldn't have to."
Shirou gave the sick girl a kind smile. "Well, I'm glad I have Uzume as a friend too, and not just for her sewing skills either." After he said this, he returned to ideally looking around the park the three of them were in, the one which was placed right next to the hospital.
Of course, Uzume knew that Shirou wasn't just looking at the foliage. For that matter, this wasn't a simple visit either.
"Chiho," Shioru began slowly. "This is going to seem rather sudden, but I need to talk to you about something important."
"Does it have to do with how you keep looking around for the people watching us?" she replied innocently.
Both Shirou and Uzume stiffened in shock at that. Uzume knew that her Ashikabi was perceptive, but this? She felt a small twinge of dread, wondering just how much the sweet girl knew of her situation.
"Um, well, yes." Shirou managed to say. Indeed, ever since he told Uzume that he could cure Chiho two days ago, he had been spending time scoping out the hospital to see what kind of security Higa had around Chiho. All in all, it was pretty light, usually just one Sekirei or even human security guard keeping an eye on her. After all, Higa didn't really need to worry about her running off; he was the only one who could keep her alive.
Though Uzume was sure he wouldn't be doing so for much longer. She hadn't talked to Higa for the past few days, but given how sour things had become between them, he was likely using the time to think of a way to terminate their contract without putting himself at risk. In any case, Shirou was pushing things for choosing to wait as long as he did before extracting Chiho, but he insisted that he wanted to be prepared.
Shirou paused for a moment longer before simply saying. "I believe I have a way to cure your illness."
Uzume knew that this would probably be the hardest part: convincing Chiho that he really could do just that without giving away any specifics on how. During his explanation on the whole magic thing, Shirou had told her that the organization he used to belong to was really focused on keeping the fact that magic existed under wraps. So much so that they were willing to kill to keep it that way. He had been somewhat uncomfortable when he remarked that by telling her he had technically turned her into a target for them if they ever found out, but he then also pointed out that the organization would probably dissect her if they ever found her anyway. To be honest, the bigger risk he was taking was for himself, as if they ever found out he told her, they would come after him in a much bigger way.
Upon hearing this, Uzume was touched that he had decided to trust her with this, and swore that she would never tell anyone else about it. Besides, why would she tell anyone else? And for that matter, who would believe her? However, that still left the problem of Chiho. Uzume was fully willing to take on the extra risk of knowing about the secret order of wizards (negligible as it was), but she didn't want to put her Ashikabi in danger. So, it was up to Shirou to come up with some technobabble to explain away any questions about his heal3 thing.
For a moment, Chiho simply looked at the young man with large, thoughtful eyes. Finally, she said "And it would keep the people hurting Uzume from doing so, yes?"
"C-Chiho!" Uzume said in shock. "What are you talking about?"
Chiho gave her Sekirei one of her sad smiles. "There are people that constantly watch over me. Though I've never been able to hear what was said, I know you have talked to them, and your always so sad afterwards. It's not hard to figure out that someone is using me to get to you."
Uzume looked down at the ground in shame, her hands griping the hem of her dress. "Chiho…"
The wheelchair bound girl reached back, grasping one of Uzume's hands. "It's ok, Uzume-chan. I understand."
With those words, Uzume reached down and wrapped her arms around her Ashikabi, tying to keep the tears from welling up in her eyes.
They stayed like that for a minute before an awkward cough drew their attention to Shirou, who was standing somewhat uncomfortably to the side while trying not to look at the intimate moment unfolding before him. Seems that they had forgotten him for a moment there.
"Ah, I'm sorry Shirou-san." Chiho apologized before looking at him resolutely. "I am ready to go with you."
Again, both Shirou and Uzume started in surprise at her sudden statement. "Really?" Shirou asked. "I thought you would be a little more skeptical then that…"
Chiho shook her head. "You truly believe that you can cure me of my sickness. I can tell." She turned to Uzume. "And I can tell that you trust him. You believe that he can do it too. That is enough for me."
Shirou blinked at this before coming to his senses. "Well, I suppose that makes thing faster. I any case, there's only one Sekirei watching us at the moment, so we shouldn't have much of a problem." He looked around for a moment before he spotted a small but dense knot of trees. "That will do." With that, the three of them moved off the path and behind the tree.
"Remember to wait till the Sekirei is distracted." Shirou said, before darting off to loop around behind their observer while line of sight was broken. Uzume herself wasted no time in getting her outfit off, which was much easier than putting it on due to a rather sensible quick release cord she had put into the dress. She had never really felt comfortable in an outfit that she couldn't fight in or remove quickly, so she tended to build such releases into her costumes as a matter of course. She quickly covered herself in her battle outfit and scooped up Chiho in a cloth hammock. Amusingly, Chiho had grabbed onto the dress when Uzume took it off, and was now holding onto it like a blanket.
Uzume wait for a few more moments, before she heard a sharp cry and the sound of metal on metal. Stealing a look back, she saw Shirou (now in his guise at the Kensei Sekirei, though she wasn't sure how he had managed to change so fast) engaging the Sekirei who was following them, a younger girl who used some kind of blade on a chain. She didn't watch for too long though, as a moment later she took off towards the safety of the Izumo House.
Shirou gave a sigh as he stood up, the glow from what he had been doing subsiding and leaving only the singular light in his workshop to illuminate the scene. "There. It's done." He said looking down at Chiho.
Uzume had to admit, the process, while simple, was fascinating to watch. After creating the most beautiful sword sheath she had even seen, he had somehow merged it with Chiho's sleeping form in a glow of blue light. The whole process was surprising quickly, and they probably cause have done it before supper if they didn't have to wait for Chiho to fall asleep. It was awkward enough trying to tell her that she needed to be asleep for this, but the fact that it had to be in the shed as well took some convincing.
In any case, Chiho looked quite peaceful, and didn't seemed to be disturbed by the process in the slightest. "So, is she going to be ok?" Uzume asked nervously from her position behind the wizard.
"Well, the version I implanted in her was just a copy. With the amount of prana I gave it, it will last about a week. Still, that should be more than enough to fight off-" he cut himself off as he turned around, noticing the blank look on Uzume's face. He gave sigh and a small smile. "Yes, she's going to be fine."
She moved forward, embracing the man who had given her world back to her in a hug. "Thank you." She whispered into the much taller man's chest. "Thank you, thank you."
He returned the embrace, giving a smile that she couldn't see. "It's fine. That's what friends are for, right?"
Uzume gave a small laugh. "Friends? Friends help you move or pay for a food bill. You? You saved the person I care about most in this world. You've always supported me when I need it the most. You told me you greatest secret because you care about me that much. Well, I think I care about you too."
"No," she said softly, pulling back slightly so she could look him in the eyes. One of her hands came up to touch the side of his face, his eyes widening as she did so. "I don't think you do…" Before he could react, she drew his head down into a kiss.
It was a soft, simple thing at first. Shirou stiffened a bit as their lips brushed against each other, only lightly touching. Then, after a few moments, the tension left his body and kiss became a deeper one, responding to her emotions in kind. She wasn't sure how long it went on for, but went the two finally broke contact they were both flushed and breathing somewhat heavier than they once were.
"Uzume…" he said, a number of emotions on his face, though the one that was most present was uncertainty.
Uzume smiled at him before resting her head back on his chest. "Don't worry, I understand. You still love them after all." Rin and Saber are truly luck to have a guy like this she thought to herself. "Honestly, I'm not even really sure what it is I feel for you. It's… different that what I feel for Chiho, but I care about you so much. I want to help you. I want you to be happy. I… I love you, Shirou."
Shirou said nothing, continuing to hold her as if his words were simply inadequate for the situation. Uzume looked back up at his face. "You were so much like me, alone for the sake of the ones you loved. You've done so much for so little, and you deserve so much more. So, this I promise you: Whatever my feelings for you might actually be, whatever might come for you in the future, you will not be alone. I will be there for you, and I'm here for you now, whenever you need it."
Shirou's features softened, and his eyes closed. He pressed his forehead against her own and then, in a whisper that was barely audible but full of emotion, said "Thank you."
That night, they no longer felt alone.
"Shirou!" a pair of female voice called out.
"Rin? Saber?" the two aforementioned women crashed into the man, sending all three of them to the ground.
Uzume looked at the mess of people with a smile on her face. It had been a few weeks since Minato did… whatever the hell he did that ended the Sekirei Plan and freed all the Sekirei from the bonds of MBI. At the same time, it ended up announcing the presence of the aliens to the entire world, so things had been hectic for the past few weeks. It was so crazy that Mastu almost missed two people of Rin and Saber's description entering the city. Uzume had asked the hacker Sekirei to keep an eye out for the two. Given everything Shirou had done for her, she was more than happy to reconnect him with his lost loves.
Still, her smile had a hint of sadness in it. She still loved the man quite a bit, and was fairly certain that his two other lovers wouldn't appreciate her affection. Uzume, being a Sekirei, had no problem having love for both Chiho and Shirou, but she knew that humans weren't that simple. Despite appearance, she knew that the man's relationship with the two women was a much more complicated affair, and you can't just add on more people.
"Ah!" Chiho said from beside her. "I'm so happy for you Shirou!" she said with a beaming face. However, Chiho's smile also had the same hint of sadness to it that Uzume's had. It seemed that over the past few weeks she had become rather attached to her 'Knight in Shining Armor' as she liked to call him. She wasn't vocal about it, but Uzume suspected that she had developed some feelings for the red head too.
After the three former lovers finally calmed down enough for conversation, Shirou asked "What are you doing here?"
Rin gave him and exasperated look. "You expect there to be an announcement about a new alien species being discovered in this city and that I wouldn't come?" She shook her head. "Anyway, that doesn't matter! There are plenty from the Clock Tower that have come to the city for the same reason!"
Saber nodded in agreement. "It's not safe here. We have to leave the city as soon as possible."
Uzume felt a small pang of sadness when she heard this. She knew it was the smart thing to do, but she didn't want Shirou to leave. Shirou seemed to share this sentiment, looking back at Uzume and Chiho uncertainly.
Rin noticed his gaze and turned towards Uzume, a suspicious frown on her face as she did so. "And just who are you anyway? I'm grateful that you've brought me to Shirou, but just what is your relationship with him?"
Uzume shifted uncomfortably. "We're his friends…" she said, while trying to convince herself that this was for the best. He was finally with Rin and Saber again. She couldn't ask him to give that up. She would just thank him for everything he's done for her, wish him goodbye and…
Ah, screw it.
"…and we want in!" Uzume declared.
"Huh?" Rin said in confusion.
"What?" Shirou said in shock.
"UZUME!" Chiho said in embarrassment.
Undeterred, the cloth Sekirei plowed forward. "Yeah, we ended up getting kinda attached to the guy, so it looks like we're going to have to join his harem with you."
Rin finally caught on to what she was taking about and turned red. "W-What? You can't… I… He's a part of my harem, damn it!"
"Really?" Uzume said with an arched eyebrow. She leaned closer to the shorter girl, looking her over before giving her an absolutely wicked grin. "Well, we can work with that too!"
Rin face turned an even brighter shade of red as she sputtered. "Shrou!" she yelled as she spun on the red head, who was suddenly looking very afraid. "Just what have you been doing?"
Saber on the other hand merely narrowed her eyes, her hand reaching for a sword that wasn't there. "It seems that you've had far too much free time on your hands if something like this can happen. It looks like we'll have to resume our training sessions, starting immediately."
Uzume chuckled to herself as she saw him try (and fail) to keep the much smaller women from hurting him. I promised you, didn't I Shirou? She thought to herself. Whatever comes, I'll be there for you. I love you too much not to. A slightly more lecherous thought entered her mind. Plus, kinky five-ways don't hurt either.