Disclaimer: I don't own any characters that appear in this story as they belong to their respective creators. Starlight AT owns Hikari Himemiya, Shirou Ogami and Rei Tachibana. I own Richard and Shoko Lainn.

Hey been while hasn't it? Hope you readers haven't been missing this story too much! But now I'm getting revved up about updating this story once again!

Previously Dermont and Hikari, who forged a contract, battled a possessed Hidiyoshi, who inherited the Assassin card. With help from Shirou and Rei, they freed him from the spell but not everything ended well.

Shirou discovered that Hikari made a pact with Dermont which put him in a funk and left on rocky terms with the duel-speared Lancer and the naïve priestess.

Illya has set her sights on Shoko next along with Shirou. What will be in stored for these characters?

Well just read and you'll see!

Update: 5/12/14

Greetings; I've decided to change Shoko's PO; she is now a Synchronizer instead of a healer. Thought I should add some Naruverse traits. If you want some info I updated her bio in chapter 7!

Now back to your scheduled reading!

Chapter 4

A mother's worth.

Lainn Residence; Richard and Shoko's room

In the bedroom of the Lainn couple, Shoko was having a restless sleep. Perspiration fell down her face as she turned her body over. It looked like she was having a bad dream.

Shoko's dream

Shoko walked on a narrow road in the dream as it'scovered in a dense fog. She folded her arms trying to keep warm from the chill.

She didn't know where she her destination lied but felt like she had to continue lest she fall victim to the cold. Her conscious mind had been able to figure out that she was dreaming but couldn't snap her way out of it. Sure there was that one time when she used that absurd ninja sign to escape and wake up but that only occurred since she had to watch that ninja program with Seta that one time.

Who'd have thought that would snap me out of it? She mused as she continued her voyage. This dream always seemed to happen as of late and didn't know why. It was peculiar as the black-haired woman felt like someone was always ahead of her, narrowly escaping detection.

But the dream ended up being different then the others she experienced as she got closer to the figure. What Shoko saw made her stare in disbelief; the person she followed had long-light purple hair that actually went to her lower kneecaps and the attire was skimpy in her respect. She also noted the person having a rather lithe body.

Oh, to have that kind of body! Shoko gripped annoyed as she looked at her own physique. Now she wasn't big as a house or what not as she was pretty fit but like anyone of her age group she had to fight the dreaded "muffin top" and watched what she ate.

She felt envious about the amounts of food her son's ate! The passage of time is harsh indeed.

Stopping the person ahead stopped as well and turned around to look at Shoko. The Japanese woman gasped out as she saw the figure had a kind of cover over her eyes and a pretty face. They stared at each other for a couple of moments before the covered eyed figure stepped in close making Shoko step back in fright.

Thinking about how this woman could be staring at her through the blindfold Shoko firmed her standing and spoke. "Who …who are you?"

The woman didn't speak as she continued observing her until she finally spoke a sentence. "Soon we will be one…"

This surprised Shoko as she found her voice. "What…?"

Before she could say anything else the woman leapt away from her and Shoko began chasing the fleeting figure. This went on for a couple of seconds before all the mist lifted and which made Shoko stop in her tracks.

The woman with the long hair apparently held something in a white cloth which piqued Shoko's curiosity. Getting close Shoko stopped her movement when she heard a cry come from the bundle.

Tears started pouring out her eyes as she gripped her chest tightly at the continued wailing and soon covered her ears. "Please, no more!" She screamed in anguish. "I don't want to go through this pain again!"

The baby's crying echoed in her head as she soon collapsed.

Lainn residence

Shoko awoke with a start and gasped for air in her empty bedroom! Looking around in fright she noticed that it was 7:19 am by her annual clock. Taking a couple of breaths to get control of what she experienced Shoko felt wet at the amount of sweat.

Wiping some from her brow she wondered where Richard was but soon remembered that he with Dermont and Seta were in Ireland for a visit to some family and a very important person passed.

It is Stella's grave they went to see. She thought sadly as at this time of year they went back to Richard's first wife to pay their respects. This had been a tradition even before she met Richard all those years ago.

This had been a sad and tough time for him in those days, especially for the boys. She continued her thought process. Usually Shoko would be there for support and offer her own prayers but had felt under the weather as of late. She didn't understand it at the time but it prevented her from traveling (to Seta's disappointment) and wished for their safe return.

The medium-length black-haired woman wondered why she would suddenly come down with something and it's been a month since Dermont and Seta started school along with that time Illya came over to their house for dinner. Even though things went well at the time and Illya was the perfect guest.

She had to remember that the German native has been under investigation by the Mage Association due to her being alive after all this time when her death reported over a decade ago.

It's not like she did anything suspicious and she knows of me working there. Along with Illya stated she has nothing to hide… Shoko continued thinking getting up from the bed and heading to the bathroom. Once getting there she looked at her disheveled face; her eyes red thanks to her tears and she looked like she went a round with a bear (shocking since they don't inhabit Japan).

Turning on the water she got a wash-cloth and wiped her face clean but thoughts of that strange dream continued haunting her. That's been going on for a while and it never ended with me bumping into that person ahead of me. Who was a woman and why was she holding a...

She stopped herself from finishing that word as she washed with fervor. Shoko didn't want to think about the dream anymore. She wanted to think happy thoughts since today her husband and boys would be back in the afternoon!

Thinking on that she made her way to brush her teeth and do all the woman things to get ready. After that she picked out a change of clothes, a purple short-sleeved shirt under a brown vest with black jeans. Getting a good look at her attire she thanked the almighty above that she didn't resort to wearing the dreaded "mom" jeans.

"Ugh, who ever said that was a trademark look needs to get shot," She muttered in an irritated voice before heading downstairs and cleaning up the living room.

The day after that strange incident at the school, where one part of the school residents affected by the attack, the association snapped to duty as a way to explain to the public about what happened and school had indeed been cancelled for a week which was around the time Dermont would be headed back to Ireland.

Using her place in her job she made sure to give Dermont some "free leave" from school along with Seta's school as well. Sometimes it was worth having some ground to stand on in the association even though she was nowhere close to Waver Velvet, aka Lord El-Melloi position or Kischur Zelretch, full head of and founder of the mage association.

Speaking of Lord El-Melloi, he was the one to explain about how the grail cards got taken a couple of months before by someone.

Those cards ended up created as a backup for when the Grail wars went south, so to speak. Not much information is known due to the amount of mystery they have but if that incident links to what happened at the school and Dermont's part of it I have no doubt the politicians would use him as some scapegoat!

Being reminded of the fact that she did have some knowledge on what her son could do. Shoko had been happy that he was away with his dad and brother.

The pretty Japanese woman knew about magic since her family, named Kanzuki was known for being a family of Synchronizer's.

Even though her family wasn't strong politically like the defunct Matou and Einzbern line nor known for their magic like the Tohsaka's and to some extent the Tachibana's, they were known more for being a distant relative of the Fujou; a respected family part of the Demon Hunter Organization.

Her being a Synchronizer is beneficial for some mages who have succumbed to vampirism or demon related incidents but since she is one of few, Shoko only uses that power when certain stipulations happened.

She could remember it clearly enough the day she met Richard.

Shoko had started working at the Mages Association after college and thanks to her families connections became someone who brokered information gathering.

In a joint union with another organization strictly known as "The Church" she traveled to Ireland on assignment with Caren Hortensia and some priests to discover a hiding spot of a nest of vampire's that took root there.

She was a novice in trying to gain information and almost wound up kidnapped if not for her studies in concealing her life force. After the job she decided to take a break and look at the sights. She parted with Hortensia and never thought her life would change in that moment.

During a random visit to a historic site Shoko conveniently forgot something at her hotel and decided to get off the bus, she didn't want to but she thought she could catch next one in an hour. Walking back to the opposite way to return to town she heard a baby crying loudly.

Like any curious person she turned and saw that it was coming from a gravesite. Snow littered the ground as it was winter during this period.

Walking cautiously she saw a man with light brown-hair holding a crying baby and next to him another boy who had black hair and looked rather demure as they looked on sadly.

She saw tears running down their faces as the man ignored his crying baby and his other son. Not knowing why she got closer and the boy looked at her with surprise. He then pulled his father's arm trying to snap him out of his stupor but he continued ignoring him and closed his eyes. Taking a glance she saw the headstone as it said the words:

Here lies Stella Lainn

Trustworthy friend, beloved wife and doting mother.

May her spirit find peace and look after the family she loved so much.

This Stella is who he's grieving for? Shoko then felt obligated to find something.

Looking around she saw a couple of flowers in a bush that seemed to grow even in this weather. Pulling them out and using some magecraft to look presentable, she returned and placed it on the gravesite and offered a prayer.

This motion seemed to snap the guy out of his funk as he looked at her with suspicion. He could tell she was a foreigner since she was Japanese. Richard wondered if she knew what she was doing at a place like this. As he was about to rebuke the kind gesture she said something to him.

"I'm sorry for your loss, sir," She said quietly. "It's never easy losing someone you love however it seems your children need you more than ever."

Richard looked put-upon by having some stranger dictate what he can and can't do. "Don't talk like that to me. Why should I care, it's not like I know what I'm doing!" He tried rocking the baby in his arms to keep it quiet but it continued squalling. The boy next to him looked sad and complained about being hungry and cold.

"Sir, do you live around these parts? We could go to a restaurant and get warmed up?" She offered but he looked stubborn at that.

"They already ate two hours ago and I just want to grieve! Why are you even bothering us?" His voice got loud which made Shoko flinch back but she held firm.

"I've always seen you three hear when I go back to my hotel, how can I not be concerned." She stated.

Richard scoffed at her. "So the tourist is finding it interesting what we do now? That's rich!" He sounded scathing as he gave her a withering glare. "Back off and go back to that fancy hotel of yours!"

Shoko looked somewhat offended but continued pushing through. "I think you need a place to eat and drink," She soon had an idea and looked down at the boy. "And I'm positive you are hungry young-man?"

As if on cue the boy's stomach growled as he rubbed it. "Daddy, can we eat now!"

Richard looked at his son then the crying baby and soon back at Shoko who looked like she wouldn't take no for an answer. Making a rude noise with his mouth Richard gathered some things and told her to take them to this place to warm up. As they walked the baby continued crying which Richard tried to calm down but couldn't.

Seeing the two in distress Shoko offered to hold the child. Even though he was in grieving he knew that letting a stranger hold his child is wrong but he felt a kind of lively energy coming from her and passed the baby along.

"His name is Seta…Seta Lainn," Richard offered out lamely. "This one here is Dermont Lainn," He patted said boy's head as they walked. "And I'm Richard Lainn."

Shoko nodded at being introduced. "My name is Shoko Kanzuki," She replied as she held the baby in her arms. It took a couple of moments but soon Seta stopped crying (to Richard's shock). "My, he's an adorable little man, isn't he?" She cooed at him for a moment as he drifted off to sleep.

Richard was all too happy in having the baby asleep after all that time. He had a rough go about it at home and with trying to keep Dermont's spirits up it was taking its toll on him.

Once they arrived at the restaurant Shoko ordered some milk for Seta and a meal for Richard and Dermont as she fed the baby his meal. They looked like a family unit.

That was the day Shoko met the Lainn family.

And then it moved on from there when I became a friend to Richard and the boys. I didn't think anything would have happened between us except for that moment but soon enough Richard, in a surprise, asked me out on our first date.

Thinking about the past calmed her heart a little but she did have to eat herself.

Shoko soon made a quick breakfast and read the newspaper and what she saw surprised her. "Doesn't that boy go to Dermont's school?" She stated as the article read about a missing student Shirou Ogami.

"He hasn't been seen in over a month. Didn't that blonde-haired priestess, Dermont and that rude rich girl try to find him?"

She remembered the day after the dinner Dermont went to Tachibana's residence with Hikari. Dermont introduced the polite girl and Shoko adored her! Even if Hikari was a little absent-minded she was more than happy that her son found a friend to depend on. Soon after that they left and didn't see them until the evening when she then met Rei…and that didn't go well.

That girl was rather rude and had the nerve to boss around Hikari-chan like that! A look of annoyance appeared on her face. And then even tried to scope out Dermy! She thought she was being sneaky but I knew what she was doing! I will not have him become that girl's play thing!

Her motherly instincts kicked into overtime. It's amazing that she keeps an eye out for Dermy and his behavior during this period. Along with that she's related to the Tohsaka's. She didn't dwell on it as she also grew concerned for Shirou's whereabouts.

If he hasn't been seen this long, then I wonder if he's dead? I haven't heard anything at work about it and the higher-ups aren't concerned about it. Hmm, do they have a handle on this situation?

She stopped thinking on those matters as her mind went back to that dream. Placing a hand on her stomach she grew disheartened about what that dream represented. "Why would I have a dream like that? That woman is one thing but the baby…how could it be so cruel?" Some tears escaped her eye sockets.

Shoko had a hard time conception a child of her own and got it checked out and the results were that she would have trouble with getting pregnant.

When I found that out I lost all hope of given birth to a child for the man I love… She thought about the sadden look on Richard's face but he felt sadder for Shoko then himself. That was a decade ago and they moved passed it. She loved both Dermont and Seta. She thought of them as her own boys and that was enough for her…or so she thought until that dream.

I don't know what that dream symbolized but I feel something will happen soon.

Then she felt someone looking at her from behind and gave a sharp look behind. No one was there. "I really am losing it in being in the house for so long!" She said before heading out and getting some fresh air on the patio.

The weather was nice as it was the continuing of spring and didn't see a single cloud in the sky. Looking at the scenery placed her heart at ease. "I better head for the airport to pick them up but before that I'll stop by the market and get them their favorite things for dinner!"

With that she made a list and checked it twice before doing the errand. Passing by a mirror she checked her face and saw her rather young face. Shoko had always been blessed with not looking her age and she was in her late-thirties she could pass for someone in their late twenties, to her enjoyment.

Then she took note on the fact her hair looked longer. It went to the upper part of her bottom? "I might have to get this cut? Why did I not see this before?" She soon headed out to complete her errands.

Einzbern Castle

Illya Einzbern was once again in her office watching Shoko from a magical viewing screen. The German girl watched in anticipation at what changes was happening to her. "The card is finally taking effect after a month? I didn't expect that to happen but with the duel-spear wielding teen gone and that timid priestess and ornery-rich girl searching for that friend of theirs they will not see this strike coming?"

Observing Shoko head into the store Illya felt somewhat guilty for placing the Rider card in her body when her husband and stepson's were away a week after her visit. It was simple enough since she used Caster's magic to hide her presence from Shoko. It might not have been clear but Shoko did indeed have magical aptitude and even if they weren't strong like those she was used to the older woman's awareness wasn't weak.

"Even though she works at Clock Tower she still invited me to her home." The red-eyed woman thoughtfully said. "That atmosphere reminded me of Shirou-oniichan's place with a bunch of people."

A flash of memory went through her as the scene showed a teen boy with tan-skin and auburn colored hair in the kitchen cooking something but his face had a shadow substance covering from making out his face. Next to her sitting in the dining room were four other teenage women but with the same shadowy-substance preventing their faces from being showed. "Those were some happy times but now I have to think about my future!"

She then thought about meeting Richard and his sons (which she already knew about Dermont but didn't let on). He was much different in that setting; calmly rebutting Seta's remarks and being respectful to his dad and step-mom, she wondered how he could do that after that scenario he was in?

Keeping what he knows under wraps? It's ironic that his parents somewhat know his situation but not all of it. She thought in a bemused fashion.

Illya Einzbern would not let sentimentality blind her ambition. In order for her plan to work she had to let the 7 grail cards and with Assassin done she had 6 to go!

"Once I placed that card in Shoko when she slept it resonated with her very well. The only thing needed to strengthen its hold over her is an emotional outlet. Which I think got triggered due to the changes happening."

While Illya did the minor ritual she discovered an interesting discovery. "With that I wonder if the priestess and spear wielder will be able to fight her when the time comes." She smiled with evil intent.

Yes, it is always hard when one is pregnant! Caster's voice rang in Illya's head. The snow-haired female could only agree. "Let's see how they can free her from this possession since the situation has changed from last time!"

Himemiya Shrine

Hikari Himemiya had just completed one of her duties purifying her body after an hour of practice. But the teen felt rather sad about what had happened recently. Shirou had all but vanished the day she formed her pact with Dermont. That had put her heart with unease for the past month.

The day that happened, me, Dermont and Rei went looking around the city for him but came up empty! She thought with sadness at her best friend being gone. Hikari wondered if he went to one of his relatives but dismissed that as he didn't have that much family besides his own parents and they were away on business which meant he lived alone.

Not only am I dealing with that but Dermont is away with family business so we didn't talk about what happened. Even though we did meet Tachibana-san at her residence and she explained somethings with these grail cards but not on who is using them. The blonde continued thinking as she finished her bath and had dried her hair with a blow dryer.

We got a couple of days off school before heading back that Wednesday but without Dermont and Shirou. I had to explain a reason for Shirou's absence while his Shoko-san took care of Dermont's excuse. She thought about what Shoko did and gave an uneasy laugh. She actually marched to the principal and all but stated about Dermont taking some time off and if he didn't make it an excused absence she'd bring down a lot of litigation that would bury the school in debt!

Hikari finished and went to her room to dress. This was an important day since Dermont and his father and brother would return today and she wanted to greet him! Even though she was still worried sick for Shirou she had the feeling that he was all right even if he wasn't here with her. "Oh Shirou, I wish you would at least text me that you are all right?"

The long-haired blonde lightly slapped her cheeks and put on her attire; she wore a baby-blue sleeveless duster shirt with a long white tee and blue jeans and white tennis shoes. She was glad it was the weekend when he returned after 3 weeks.

During this time she kept up her duties as a priestess while continuing the search for Shirou with Rei (to her astonishment). The raven-haired teen soon decided to help Hikari with certain magecraft as practice to keep up her skills.

"It's important to do this with some enemy going about," Rei had told her in a previous conversation. "Even if Dermont is protecting you from attacks you still need to keep your wits about you and not space out!"

Hikari giggled. "She sounded like a teacher." But she was happy for the help and the two girls started associating with each other. Even though Rei had specifically told her not to talk to her at school but the child-hearted teen started calling out to her like a long-lost friend every time they saw one another.

Heading downstairs for some breakfast she saw what time it was; 11:15 am. "Oh man, I keep forgetting to check the time when it comes my ritual. I might have to change that in the future."

Making a breakfast of a small bowl of rice, one strip of grilled fish and juice she muddled in her head about Dermont's return. Even if their partnership had only just started it left her with a feeling of anxiety.

"I know we worked well together in freeing Hidiyoshi-san but I have to wonder if all these battles will be easy; nothing's happened in the past month and we are already in April. Once he comes back I'll talk with him and hopefully we will have some ground in continuing the search for Shirou. Not to mention that letter I got from the church explaining about this weird event..."

Finishing her breakfast she washed the dishes and got some cleaning down. It took an hour and soon it was 12:15 pm.

I went to visit Shoko-san a couple of days ago and she said that they would arrive around 2:00. I wonder if I can go with her? As she had that thought that she saw a certain short-black haired teen!

Not thinking she sprinted out of the kitchen and to the outside where she saw no one! "Shirou, Shirou are you there?" She yelled out desperately. "If it's you please come out!" Not a single voice uttered or figure showed up.

Holding back tears Hikari thought her mind playing tricks on her! Gathering her feelings together she finished up in the kitchen, grabbed the sacred object every female in the world has; her purse, locked the door and headed to the Lainn household.

On the roof of her house stood the black-haired blue-eyed Shirou Ogami and he looked rather buff; his biceps showed considerably and his clothes had holes in them. "Hikari…" he whispered as another form stood behind him.

This person was a man with golden-hair styled in a slick-back way and red eyes. He wore a long-sleeved white shirt with a two-part blood-red shirt and pants that showed off his diamond abs and casual shoes. His face was rather handsome that would make any woman weak in the knees and a kind of raw emotion of authority about him.

Looking at Shirou without even a smile he asked him something. "Is that the woman you yearn for?"

The teen male nodded his head. "Yeah, she's the one Gil."

The one named Gil smiled. "She's a rather panicky girl crying your name like that! I know you want to see her but she can't know your back yet. I mean that would ruin our plan. So I need you to see the coming event."

Raising an eyebrow Shirou asked, "What event? Nothing is going to happen to Hikari, will it?"

Gil scoffed. "Tch, not sure why you should care, she broke your heart by choosing that lad, right?"

Bringing up Dermont, Shirou tightened his fist until blood soaked through it.

"I'll take that as a yes. Now come on, let's see what happens next!" With that the two men flickered off the house.

Fuyuki Airport

Dermont Lainn looked exhausted from the trip from his trip to his beloved home of Ireland. It had been nice seeing some members from his dad's side of the family along with visiting his mother's grave but had been happy to return back to Japan.

Not only did he miss Shoko but he wondered what had happened with Hikari and Rei; did they find Shirou while he was away?

Heading for the conveyor belt for his bag lagging behind him was the brown-haired (with a touch of gray on the sides) Richard Lainn and an exuberant Seta, who looked refreshed for some strange reason.

"Well welcome back home boys." Richard muttered as he grabbed his bag of stuff. "The traveling between these two places is exhausting!"

Dermont only scoffed and muttered his own agreement. "I didn't think it would be that rough!"

"What's the matter jarhead, can't handle the friendly skies?" Seta teased reaching for his bag. "Flying always makes you cranky!"

The teen held back a snarl. "Anyone would when dealing with you, runt!"

Richard had to agree with that. It was like Seta was on some sugar high when dealing with flying! But he didn't agree loudly. "Dermont, be nice to your brother. Seta, settle down, you've been on this high since the flight started!"

The blue-haired pre-teen on chortled at his father and brother's attempts at keeping him calm. He couldn't help it, when it came to flying he got excited and might have done things one is not supposed to do on a plane. In his defense he thought it would be okay to treat his seat as if he was in the privacy of his room. He missed Shoko for not being there as well since his dad and brother got sad when thinking about his biological mother, Stella.

I have no memories of mom and all I hear from them is that she loved me dearly. I wish I could have met mom though…He thought a little sadly.

He knew that he got his eyes from her and apparently her rambunctious spirit from when she was a girl (when she wasn't sick). Seta decided that he would try to break them out of their funk by being more obnoxious than he originally was which worked…somewhat.

"Dad, come on, you've been cranky too!" Seta exclaimed as the trio walked trying to find Shoko.

It was true Richard had been a little on edge but he got that way when it came to the aftermath of visiting his first wife's grave. It left him feeling sad about Stella. He thought about the "What if" factors if she were still alive and once that happened he'd grieve for her as he always did but not before remembering who he had in his life.

He looked at his sons as they walked ahead of him a little. These are our sons, Stella. I hope you continue watching them in heaven. He soon thought about Shoko and smiled at seeing her again.

She's usually with us during this time and I hope she's fine from that cold she had? Richard had called and texted when he could and she told him that she was fine and to give the boys her love.

The brown-eyed man smiled at having someone else in his life to help raise Dermont and Seta. He was grateful to her for not only accepting him and his kids but for saving him from his own depressive state all those years ago. Yet the one thing he wished he could give her was something over his reach.

If only she could bear a child. That had consumed her since we started our marriage. She felt like less of a human and woman for not going through childbirth.

Richard remembered those days when she cried and he comforted her and would have continued if not for a toddler Seta who called her "Mama!" at one point which made her cry out of happiness and embrace him.

Of course she's still a mother none the less. I'm blessed to have her in my life. Richard thought happily.

As they neared the entrance Dermont noted a certain blond by Shoko and stopped dead in his tracks. "What is that girl doing here?" He deadpanned to himself as Seta looked to him and Shoko.

"Huh, isn't that your girlfriend, bro?" The pre-teen asked blinking thrice.

"She's not my girlfriend, runt!" He remarked with ire as they headed towards them. Shoko looked happy at seeing her family return as Seta zoomed in and hugged Shoko around her waist!

Shoko smiled and returned the hug easily as Hikari gave Dermont a bright greeting with rosy-colored cheeks. "Welcome home, Dermont!"

Dermont looked baffled at seeing her and muttered out a "Hey" which soon he asked why she was here!

"I kept Shoko-san company while you were away in keeping your house clean and brightening her spirits!" She stated smiling warmly.

Shoko agreed with his classmate. "Hikari-chan helped me and we bonded. She's become the daughter I've always wanted!"

When Dermont heard this he froze while Hikari had some tears in her eyes while Seta looked somewhat baffled.

"Oh, Shoko-san…" She clasped her hands together.

"Hikari-chan…" Some tears ran down her cheeks as well and before you could say "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" the two embraced in happiness.

"Dermy, you have my permission to enter Hikari-chan into the family one day!" Shoko said after the moment died down.

Dermont, who tried keeping a straight face but failing horribly only looked at the red/violet eyed girl with frustration and headed for the car rather fast. Richard soon arrived, as he needed to go to the restroom and kissed his wife and greeted Hikari with humbleness while Seta treated her with distant politeness (he still felt iffy about girls) as they all headed back to their neighborhood.

Lainn residence (evening)

After the lucrative drive back (with Richard and Shoko talking with Hikari, a despondent Dermont and a rather quiet Seta who decided to listen to some tunes) they all arrived back to the house and invited Hikari for dinner, which she was happy to comply, to Dermont's aggravation as he reminded her "Don't you have some shrine patronage you need to contend with!" which she said that her family had part-timers working the "non-necessary stuff like handing out charms and filing away requests!".

The dinner was good with certain Ireland foods for the menu. Shoko had practiced with making that kind of food and had gotten somewhat decent with it. It tasted good and talking went around all the stuff that happened during the trip.

Dermont noted the newspaper about Shirou still being missing and would have to discuss it with Hikari when they had time. Seta saw that Shoko's hair was long which mad Shoko jump in surprise as she went to the mirror and saw that her hair was going down to the back of her kneecaps!

Richard wondered if she'd been taking good care of her hair but she dismissed that notion as she'd been using the shampoo she always used.

Hikari felt a tingling force when Shoko passed her by and wondered why she was feeling it now?

After dinner Dermont decided to walk Hikari to the front gate while Shoko took care of the dishes and Richard and Seta went upstairs to unpack their things.

"It's been awhile, hasn't it Hikari?" He asked with folded arms. Hikari numbly nodded her head as she didn't know what to say to him.

Seeing that she wouldn't be making a peep he asked if she and Rei had come across Shirou?

"Not one clue of him. It's been hard not seeing him and I think the reason he disappeared was because of our union…"

A long sigh escaped Dermont's lips as he figured that would be the case. "If I'd thought it would be that bad for the guy I'd have ignored the contract." He stated as he looked at the sigil on his chest that glowed for a moment.

She shook her head. "We didn't have a choice but I've thought that I might have taken that choice from Shirou's hands?"

The black-haired slicked back teen gave her a questioning look as if wanting her to continue and she complied.

"I think he felt strongly for that moment. Really strong, as if that would make his life complete."

He looked thoughtful on the subject. "You two are childhood friends and if you'd been together for that long, it would be understandable if he felt dejected but to vanish and not say a word? That's being childish on his part!"

"Shirou is not childish!" Hikari retorted firmly coming to the defense of her friend. "He's just passionate with some things which is admirable!"

Dermont snorted. "Please, him being a baby then not telling you and causing you to worry to death? Some friend he is!"

Hikari tried keeping anger out of her tone but couldn't. "He's being more of a friend now then you are!" She cried out. "I'm worried sick for him and you say all that about him? At least he shows that he cares and not treat people like a nuisance!"

The Irish teen didn't back down. "I don't treat anyone like that, even though I'm considering adding you to the list!" He retorted. "Besides it's not like you know anything about me! We only just met each other a month ago and you think you can add sugary words of friend to a baby like that? I might be alone but I wouldn't be selfish in making a friend worry."

"How would you know, you've never had a friend!" Hikari yelled at him in anger. "From what Shoko-san told me you've never had anyone to rely on ever since you were a kid; girls falling for you and the boys treating you with disdain for having their attention. This is why you don't have friends with that wall around you!"

Dermont stood frozen at that. Shoko told Hikari about bits of his past? Growing angry he glared at the girl.

"You shouldn't care about my alleged walled off heart; be worried about your fragile heart!" He challenged which made Hikari stop her worded assault. "Always whimpering and trying to make nice with people? You didn't even defend yourself from Hidiyoshi and his crew if I hadn't stopped them!"

Hikari held back a gasp as she thought about that time.

"The only time I see you firm that weakened heart of yours when it came to that card and dealing with Assassins lackeys! You worry yourself sick and deal with other problems and not your own!"

Hikari felt like she got slapped.

"If I were you I'd look in the mirror before shouting judgment at any other people!" Dermont's voice got loud at the end.

The two finished what they had to say and looked at each other as if they were strangers. Neither budged at what words got said.

Hikari had some tears escape. What happened for all this to happen? What about the happy reunion? Dermont also felt hurt about what Hikari said about him having a closed heart.

Shoulders shaking Hikari took a step back which Dermont saw. "Wait Hikari, I didn't…" He didn't finish his sentence as Hikari cut him off.

"No…I think we both said what we were truly feeling." She took another step back. "Please tell Shoko-san I liked the dinner. I'll miss coming here."

Dermont felt like crap for saying that to Hikari, she felt worried about her friend and he dumped all his would-be logic in her face? "Hikari don't be an idiot, I-!"


He felt a stinging sensation on his left cheek.

Hikari lowered a hand as she slapped him. "I'm not an idiot, you jerk. And I was happy in seeing you…" Some tears dropped to the ground.

"Hikari…" he whispered but before he could say anything she sprinted off into the night. His feet went a couple of paces but stopped. Dermont felt like a wall was between them.

Walking back inside dejected he went past the kitchen in which Shoko finished the last one.

"Hmm, Dermy what's wrong?" She asked wiping her hands off a dish rag.

He didn't answer at first and tried avoiding her gaze. "Dermy…"

"Will you stop calling me Dermy!" Dermont's voice got loud once again. "This is your fault, Shoko!"

Shoko stood stunned at the verbal attack. "Dermy-!"

"Stop calling me that! Why'd you tell Hikari my past? Why'd you have to open that mouth of yours?"

Shoko shook at what he said. "I…I was only explaining some things as a way for her to get to know you and…."

"Well you shouldn't interfere in my life and telling people about it!" He yelled to her. "That's private and you told her! She doesn't need to know that I never had a friend! She doesn't need to know anything about me!" Dermont's eyes showed anger. "If you really were a mother you wouldn't say that!"

Shoko held a chest to her heart. "Dermy?"

"STOP CALLING ME THAT!" He yelled which Richard heard and came rushing downstairs. He saw his wife trying to hold back tears and moved in on Dermont.

"Why is your mother crying and why are you yelling at her?!" He yelled at his angry son.

Dermont only scoffed. "Mother, she's no mother of mine; she's more a mother to Seta than me!"

Shoko felt like a knife got plunged to her heart at every syllable being said. She did her best to hold back a wail.

Richard appeared confused on this. "Don't say that about Shoko, Dermont! She's been more of a mother to you as well and I won't have you smudge her name!"

"Please, I know that if my real mother was alive you wouldn't be with her!" He accused his dad. "I saw the way you cried at her gravestone. You didn't forget her and never will!" Dermont then said something unforgivable. "Besides she can't even bear you a child!"

Richard looked beside himself and looked at Shoko who didn't look him in the eye as silent tears fell. He grabbed Dermont by his collar. "I don't know what the fuck is with this attitude but I will not have you disrespect me or Shoko! Apologize to her! Now!"

Dermont glared at his dad and soon turned his eyes to a sobbing Shoko. I did it again…I'm hurting someone else. His eyes turned somewhat soft at seeing Shoko.

The teen got out of his father's grip and ran out the door. "DERMONT!" Richard yelled as he too went out and only saw a fleeting figure in the distance.

Dermont didn't know where he was going but he needed to find a place to clear his head. Why did he say all that to Shoko, to a woman who loved him like a son? Why'd he let his temper and logic get in the way of talking with Hikari like that?

As he turned a corner he accidentally bumped into Rei Tachibana, who had come back from a meeting with the student council and her bag with some books hit the ground.

"Watch where you're going you bastard wearing," She stopped her mouth from running when she saw Dermont. "Oh, Lainn-san it's you?"

Getting up he helped her up. "Sorry, Tachibana, I didn't see you there!" He helped pick up some of her stuff. "Hey, can I stay with you for a while; I need a place to think?"

Rei didn't know what was wrong but could tell he was in distress. With a nod they both headed towards her place.

Lainn residence

Back at the Lainn household, Shoko continued crying as they both moved to their room as Richard tried comforting her. "He's right you know, I'm not a 'mother'.

Richard shook his head as he answered. "Not true Shoko. You are a wonderful mother and I'm not sure what was wrong with him but I'll give him a firm talking and beating when he gets home!"

Shoko shook her head. "No he's right, I had no right telling Hikari-chan his business like that. I think I might have ruined his chance at having a friend."

"Shoko you can't think negatively on that."

The black-haired woman glared at her husband. "Why not, it's true; I'm not fit as anyone's mother given I can't have kids!"

This stopped Richard from speaking.

"I am a failure as a wife who can't even bear a child for the man I love! And I can never fill your broken heart." She whispered dejected.

Richard stopped her right there. "You have healed my heart Shoko. When Stella died I was at the lowest point in my life. With two kids I didn't think I'd survive without you!"

"No, I think you would have done just fine." Her voice sounded dead as she got up from him and headed to the window.

"Shoko, what are you doing?" He called out to her.

Turning around her eyes looked cold. "I'll be free of this pain. I don't want this anymore." A violet outline shined before covering her in a cocoon of magic that pushed Richard back to the bad hard.

After the sequence ended Shoko stood in a different attire; a short black dress with high-heeled boots and her hair looked purple. She also wore a cover around her eyes.

Richard looked baffled by the sudden change! "Shoko!"

She chuckled under her breath. "No more being tethered down by this pain!" She soon opened their window and stepped out to the veranda as a violet aura covered her body to destroyed the room window. Taking a step forward she jumped 30-feet in the air.

Richard rushed to the outside and called her name over but it looked like she was ignoring him! "No…Shoko! SHOKO!"

In the sky above the neighborhood Shoko felt freedom for the first time! She would escape her past and not look to the future anymore! Falling to the roof of another house she jumped in the air once again.

"I am the wind, I am free! And nothing will take my newfound pleasure from me!" she whispered.

Some tears escaped as she unconsciously wrapped her arms around her stomach not knowing the one thing she wanted was already in her hands.

Himemiya Shrine

Hikari ran back to the shrine grounds where she had cried all her emotions out. She lamented on why that happened and looked down at her own crest. "Dermont…I'm so sorry!" She wept as she placed her head between her knees.

"Hikari…" A male voice said.

Snapping to she saw a rather buff Shirou standing a couple of meters in front! Gasping she placed a hand over her chest. "Shirou…."

"Hey, sorry I've been gone all that time!" He answered with a devil-may-care smile as Hikari went to hug him. "Oh Shirou, I was so worried! I already placed an ad in the paper about you being missing and…"

He stopped her there as he placed a hand beneath her chin. "Yeah I saw that and when I got back I explained that it was my fault for not telling anyone where I went."

Smiling through the tears she asked him, "Doesn't matter, I'm just happy you are all right!" She was about to move but soon felt his strong hands over her shoulders. "Hmm, what is it Shirou?"

"You were crying, did that bastard do that to you?" He asked in a dead serious voice.

"No, I mean, we got in an argument about you and it moved to something else and," She started crying once again. "I said such horribly things to him. I ran my mouth without thinking and now he hates me!"

As she got all this out Shirou didn't look surprised or happy just content. Taking his chance he once lifted her chin towards him. "Hikari, I want you to break off your pact with Dermont!"

Her eyes widened in disbelief. "What?"

"You heard me, I know you can dissolve your pact with him." He said again. "He doesn't deserve it. You need a partner who will never make you cry, someone who will bring you happiness and stick with you and never question! Let me be that person, Hikari."

The blonde teen continued being in shock at what he was doing as Hikari leaned her body towards him.

"I'll be everything and more if you have me. Because you see Hikari, I…" Shirou whispered as his lips almost brushed against Hikari's. "I…"

"Shirou, you…" Hikari whispered as she continued feeling drawn to him.

Enizbern castle

Back at the castle Illya looked ecstatic at what scenarios had happened and couldn't be any more thrilled! "This is working out better than expected, it seems Shirou finally came back and is luring Hikari to his side? And Shoko has given into the power of the Rider card!"

She looked at the screen with Shoko jumping through the air. "The Rider class is known for their speedy attributes. Hmm, I guess that's why the card chose her? No matter, even if that's the case and even should Hikari and Dermont weasel out of their own problems how will they go about saving her?"

Illya smiled like a certain cloaked witch. "This will turn to tragedy in the long run. Let's see how they deal with a woman whose been denied the one thing she craves?" A laugh echoed throughout the castle.

The night continues.

Feeling them feels yet, readers? Any tears?

Sorry for cutting that off but I think it's a good spot to stop for the time being and let things settle. A long night will be in stored for the characters as they deal with Shoko-Rider. And even surprising that Shirou has returned and with Gil, how's that possible?

Hope you liked the back story of Shoko and how she met Richard. I'll go into detail about Richard's side of things when I get to the Lancer arc later to explain if and how he knows about magi and the like. I actually felt sad writing certain parts of the story with Shoko and Dermont's argument since it really is bad what he told her.

If you think that's a major part of the story then it's not, that's a prologue to what I have in stored for Shoko down the line which will have an impact on all the characters but I'll say they have to free her first if that's going to go down! Starlight knows where I'm going with this since her characters are part of this so no asking what I have in stored!

Let's hope Hikari and Dermont can work out their differences and what's this, I got Rei in the matter? I'm building something with that soon.

I'm trying to get some storylines out the way so I can get to the typical "Harem" chapter with the characters. I estimate 3 or 4 more chapters will suffice but don't hold me to it.

Glad I got started with this story again, let's hope I continue it!

Oh, I'm trying to take my time with more character development and keeping it consistent. I rushed with Dermont's personality by not thinking it through and made him obnoxious when he's really not. I'm trying to keep him level-headed with a dry sense of humor. You know, deadpan stuff!

So corrections followed in chapter 2 about Dermont's personality, so check it out!

So that's my goal to flesh out these characters and take my time! Even though I got where I want the story to go I have to learn that the characters are important too and not to rush for the sake of getting chapters out quickly. You never stop learning as they say!

That's it for me, now I got to show some love for some other stories but I'll get back to this one at an early date!