Disclaimer: Not mine. Made for entertainment. Yada yada yada. You know the drill.
Now read and enjoy!
There was no rain that day. The sky was no gloomier than it had been the day before.
He stood among the crowd of black suited people, face wiped clean of emotions as he looked lifelessly at the hollow tract of land which would soon be filled with his father’s coffin. Suppressing the urge to cry wasn’t as hard as it used to be, now that there were no more tears left to shed.
He dimly remembered the murmured consolations from the attending people. He wasn’t too sure though, his mind didn’t seem to be running the way it should, ever since his father died. Many things seemed to escape him, even hunger, even sleep. Was that supposed to happen when you’re mourning? He didn’t know—he wasn’t even sure if he cared anymore.
There was a small sound, and he realized that the levers that held his father’s coffin were slowly lowering it into the deep empty space on the ground.
He felt a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it gently. He titled his head to look at it, and looked up to the one who placed it there.
It was a brown haired young woman looking at him with tearful eyes full of sympathy, her jaws shaking as she controlled her own sobs. But she did not let the tears fall, and instead, she tried to smile at him.
“Don’t worry,” Her voice shook, but her words, her feelings, they were so strong that he felt it even through that.
“From now on, I’ll take care of you.” Her will resolute, she finished with a heartfelt smile. “I promise.”
The sun beamed down the world with its warm golden rays, perched up upon its kingdom in the blue skies filled with fluffy clouds. A recent weather broadcast had sighted that there would be no dark clouds on this day, stating further that it would be a nice sunny day for everyone.
Emiya Shirou was tempted to call bullshit.
He was currently hanging on for his dear life.
“WOOHOO!” The source of all his trouble, on the other hand, was having the time of her life.
His current predicament could be rooted back to this very morning, when Fujimura Taiga barged into the Emiya household and announced that she and Shirou deserved a much needed vacation, apparently as a congratulations to themselves, what with him finally graduating into high school and herself landing a job as an English teacher—in his school, no less.
This would have been a feasible excuse had it not already been a week since his graduation, thereby making her reasons very, very suspicious. True to form, Shirou protested, saying that he had too many responsibilities and he couldn’t just bail on his job at the Copenhagen. He hasn’t missed a day at work since day one, he wasn’t about to start missing them now!
“I already got ya covered! Me and gramps settled everything and I even got Neko to let you slide!”
“What? You can’t just coerce Neko-san like tha-“
“She said you deserved it, since you haven’t been enjoying your spring break at all!”
“But I’m not even ready to-”
“Plus, I have your stuff already packed in one of gramps car-”
“...that sounds really suspicious.”
“-so there ain’t any reason for you to say no!”
“Wait! Don’t I even get a say in this!?”
“No! Now come on!” She responded to his complains with a wide grin and arms crossed authoritatively.
The Tiger of Fuyuki would not be denied.
Grabbing the hapless young man and dragging him along, she planted him at the back of her most precious and highly customized Yamaha R-1, intent on getting to their destination as soon as possible. To which Shirou, annoyed with his current situation, sniped that it would take a decade for them to arrive if she was driving.
That was the day that Shirou learned that one does not challenge Taiga Fujimura, on anything, ever.
Her response was another rev on the motor to speed up the motorcycle, causing him to yelp. She burned rubber on the asphalt as she cut through the road like a demon possessed.
This time, his guardian overtook the car ahead of her with a sharp turn, doing the same to the next car. The terrified young man could hear her laughing proudly at the chaos that she wrought upon the highways.
Yes, this was the consequence of challenging the one recognized as the Tiger of Fuyuki— screaming like a little girl dreading for your life.
Taiga giggled at the panicked sound that her charge made, feeling his arms tightening a bit more around her middle. Really, it wasn’t as if she was an amateur on the clutches. She rode this baby to the university back when she was in college everyday! She won tons of (illegal) races on this beast! So, as amusing as his reactions were, Shirou shouldn’t be worried at all!
‘…Shirou doesn’t know that much about me at all, does he?’
It was a sad fact really, and she only realized this once she announced her new job to him.
Taiga remembered the blank stare he gave her and the incredulous question that came right after.
“…you’re allowed to teach teenagers?”
Her dignity as an educator struck, she had countered in the only way she knew how.
Torashinai, her most trusted weapon, had been fortunately nearby, ready to deliver the punishment that Shirou so rightfully deserved—a powerful whack on his noggin to correct his flawed perception.
She had knocked him mightily on the head and had stood over his crumpled form victoriously.
Of course, that little bit of payback didn’t settle the issue.
Shirou knew nothing of the person that was supposed to be taking care of him, and that could lead to him doubting her competence as his guardian. While it was true that she projected herself as…less than a model citizen, it didn’t mean that she was not good enough to support Shirou when it actually counts. Taiga loved Shirou like her own family, and she promised to herself and to his father’s grave that she would do everything she can to help him as he grew up.
And now, she found out how much she screwed up.
Taiga was a little more than a stranger to him, and she knew that it was because she had put so little effort into getting him to know more about her. Whenever she went to his house for dinner and to check up on him, the basic pattern of their interaction would be for her to ask what happened to him during his day, a question that he always answered with a casual “Nothing new.”
She would proceed to grind him for more details, and he would then evade with vague answers. This was the cue for her temper to flare and whack him over the head for being stubborn, and him subsequently shouting abuse.
All in all, this cycle painted Taiga as a less than admirable adult. There is also the fact that her hectic course in college caused her time to bond with Shirou to dwindle for a couple of years, and then her work only allowed her to check on him at night or in the morning, times when he would distract her with his delicious cooking and continually dodge from her queries about him.
It frustrated Taiga to no end, the fact that Shirou did not seem to trust her enough to open up to her. And she hated—absolutely hated—herself, for letting it come to this point.
“Stupid Shirou.” Her murmur was lost to the sound of the passing wind and the engines of her motorcycle. Her previous obliviousness to the way she presented herself and Shirou’s secrecy did not help her relationship with him at all.
‘Well, no use thinking too much about it, I suppose,’ she thought with a mental sigh.
Taiga swallowed, blinking when she realized how dry her throat was. Uhoh, most of their stuff was packed in one of the cars that her grandfather was taking along, which included the water bottles she was supposed to bring with her. She totally forgot about that after Shirou made that crack about her driving skills. All she could think of by then was proving him wrong.
Oh well, at least she brought plenty of money, and fortunately there was a gas station just up ahead. She maneuvered their direction towards it and eased up on the throttle of her motorcycle. As the air slowly stopped circulating around them, she felt the arms that wound around her abdomen lighten their hold as Shirou seemed to realized that they were finally slowing down.
She smiled. The stupid boy must be thanking every god out there for letting him live through such a ride. She wasn’t at all offended now, just amused. Shirou would learn more about her soon enough—and she would make him open up to her more. The whole point of this trip was, after all, for them to bond. Taiga wasn’t going to waste this chance.
What she needed to do was take action, and take action she will.
Shirou was still quite disoriented from all the crazy turns that Taiga took, but he was coherent enough to hear the sound of the motorcycle engines growl dimming itself to a slow purr, indicating that they were stopping. Opening his eyes a bit, he saw that they were heading to a gas station off the side of the road. Shirou relaxed, it seemed like Fuji-nee was going to take a small break. As she parked the motorcycle in front of the stations modest minimart, the engines gave a final protesting purr before being silenced under Taiga’s hands.
Unwinding his arms from Taiga’s middle, Shirou let himself fall back just a little. After confirming that yes, they were both still alive and yes, they were both still in one piece, Shirou unstrapped the helmet around his head to breathe out in joyous relief.
“Ahh..” He was never going to question her driving skills. Never again.
The woman in front of him mirrored his actions, albeit more lively. She stretched out her arms in an exaggerated fashion and before throwing him a smirk from over her shoulder.
“Did you enjoy that?” She quipped in what Shirou thought was an all too amused voice. Oh how nice, she must have really liked hearing him fear for their lives. Refusing to give her the satisfaction of seeing him flustered, Shirou opted to turn his head away instead.
“Oh don’t be such a baby, I had everything under control.” Taiga pouted. Shirou kept his head away and made no response. Taiga huffed and got off from the leather perch of her motorcycle, hanging her helmet on one of the handlebars.
“Anyway,” she started with a slow careful tone, “I’m thirsty, and figured you might be too. So I’m gonna go buy us some drinks, do you want anything specific?” She put her hands on her hips and beamed him a broad smile. Shirou turned his head to finally look at her and saw the smallest hint of apology on her expression. Buying him something to drink was probably her way of saying sorry.
The young man sagged.
He really couldn’t be that mad at her now, not when she was like this.
Getting off the motorcycle himself, Shirou hanged his own helmet on the unoccupied handlebar before intoning neutrally, “Just some water will be fine, Fuji-nee.”
His throat was a little raspy from all the screaming shouting he did earlier. Getting some water was probably a good idea.
“Okay.” Her smile widened as she bobbed her head down agreeably. “I’ll be back in a sec. You stay here and watch over my baby.” She reached over her motorcycle to pat it affectionately. “A beauty like this might attract some unsavory eyes. Ya gotta make sure none of ‘em even comes close to her, got it?”
It took every cell in Shirou’s body to keep him from rolling his eyes. Fuji-nee could be terribly dramatic when it came to her motorcycle.
“Sure,” Shirou nodded to her terms nonetheless, albeit a little stiffly. It’s not like he wouldn’t have guarded the vehicle without her saying so anyway.
“Good!” She leaned in and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “I’ll be right back!” She hopped away to the store with smirk on her face, satisfied by the look of embarrassment she left on Shirou’s face.
After rubbing the cheek that Taiga kissed furiously, the red-haired young man heaved an exasperated sigh. He then heard a series catcalls and whistles, making him swerve his head to its direction. He saw a couple of teenage boys hanging out by the one the tables placed outside the store. They all wore sly and knowing looks on their faces, one of them even gave him a thumbs-up.
“Nice one, dude!” The teenager with the upturned thumb said in a devious, congratulatory tone, grinning from ear to ear.
Wait, what were they implying!? Surely they didn’t think that his relationship with Fuji-nee was…!?
Cutting off his line of thought, Shirou turned his head back and decided that it would be more prudent to ignore them. They were just a noisy bunch of idiots anyway. He also ignored the laughter that his action gave rise to.
The young Emiya crossed his arms and quietly deliberated his current situation, something he had not been able to do amidst all the rush earlier.
‘Mah…’Fuji-nee’s intentions were good, but she had really been too zealous over this. Shirou knew that he would have eventually craved in to her request, had she asked nicely enough. Taking a time-out wasn’t such a bad idea, really, but what she did was borderline kidnapping. The only things she didn’t do was tying him up then gagging him, and he wouldn’t have put it past her to do that if he had protested strongly enough.
Try as he might though, he still couldn’t figure out what she intended to do with this excursion. Certainly the reasons she had given could really be legitimate, but her methods were still suspicious. He still remembered her saying that she had his stuff packed beforehand, and that had already sent alarm bells ringing in his head. How did she find a way to get his stuff without him noticing at all? Even more suspicious than that, she said that she got Neko-san to agree with her. As far as he knew his boss had always thought that Fuji-nee was a bad influence on him, something that stemmed from his boss’s own familiarity with her. She said in no small words that she thought that Fuji-nee was unfit to lookout after him. It made him wonder, ‘What exactly did Fuji-nee do to get Neko-san to let me go with her?’
Well, being his guardian though, he suspected that she just told Neko-san that she’ll be taking him away for awhile and didn’t let his boss have a word in. In fact, Shirou was willing to bet that was what actually happened.
Still, he guessed that since he was here, he could at least give this outing a chance. He certainly didn’t have anything to lose, and maybe it could actually be fun.
‘….I just hope she doesn’t take me for another joy ride.’
“I’m back!” Shirou was startled from his reverie when he heard his guardian’s loud announcement, who had just exited the store carrying a plastic bag full of different beverages in her left hand. She fished into the bag and took one water bottle out. “Here!” She casually tossed the refreshment to him.
The young man caught it with his left hand, eyeing the brand before shrugging and unscrewing the cap. He took a small sip from the bottle, just as the brown haired woman returned by his side with her own beverage in hand. She gave him a smile as she stored the plastic bag in the attached tank bag accessory of her motorcycle, before leaning a bit on it. Taiga opened her own drink and took a dramatic gulp, exhaling a breath of satisfaction after she finished.
A moment of companionable silence descended upon them, with only the sounds of cars whizzing through the road and the winds cool breeze whistling on the around them. There was also the insistent string of snickers behind him, but he chose to ignore those. Shirou took another sip of his water, glad for this small moment of reprieve.
“Hey Shirou,” Taiga said suddenly, breaking the silence, “Look, over there.” She raised her free hand pointed towards north, and Shirou’s eyes followed.
Up ahead, Shirou saw the outline of a grand city nestled at the foot of the mountains, located right next to the sea. Even from where he stood, he could already determine that it was quite big, dwarfing the size of his home city, Fuyuki. And while Fuyuki was enveloped by a docile suburban feeling, this city looked like it reveled in progress and technological improvement; filled with many skyscrapers, coliseums, and he could even distinguish quite a number of amusement parks from the huge Ferris wheels and roller coasters. Yet remarkably, the gigantic city did not have a polluted air around it.
However, the most extraordinary sight of all was the colossal tower that looked like windmill, standing right in the very heart of the city. The tower itself looked firmly rooted from where it was, the very foundations made of enormous and solid iron, towering over all the buildings that surrounded it. The blades of the windmill placed right at the very top were also quite immense, all six spinning rhythmically to the blowing wind. It must have taken years to get the materials for the tower, and herculean effort to have it built, Shirou mused.
It was an admirable sight indeed.
“Amazing huh?” His guardian’s jovial voice brought him back out of his thoughts. Shirou tore his eyes away from the marvelous city to gaze at her. The brown haired woman had just finished her drink, staring ahead with a nostalgic expression painted on her face.
“I used to visit this city a lot as a kid. Gramps brought me and my parents along when he came to check up on some local business he set up with a friend.” The young teacher looked up at this thoughtfully. “I don’t remember what that was exactly, just that it was really important to him. Anyways, we would visit with the family of his friend, and my parents would take me sight-seeing. I remember having lots of fun.”
She smiled a small and bittersweet smile. “I made a lot of good memories with my family there.” Her smile became just a bit bigger and just a bit sweeter, as she finally turned to face him. “So one day I thought, I should go back there and make better memories with my family now...and help Shirou make some memories he can treasure too!”
Time then, seemed to stand completely still, and the entire world seemed to disappear, leaving only the image of the lovely woman with a beautiful smile on her face. Struck speechless, Shirou could only replay her last words in his mind over and over again without finding a response worthy enough to match the sincere feelings that pervaded her every word.
“Uhh...” Cheeks coloring with a bright pink hue, Shirou’s hand automatically reached up to initiate his age old habit of scratching the back of his head in times of embarrassment.
And that hand just so happened to hold the water bottle.
“Gah!” The water splashed noisily onto his head. Taiga chortled before exploding into a stomach clutching fit of laughter. She was not alone, as the teenagers from before had seen what happened and laughed uproariously at his expense.
“Oh…Oh god, Shirou, you really know how to break the mood.” Taiga had controlled herself enough to say, amusedly watching the flustered young man wipe furiously at his wet hair.
"That wouldn't have happened," Shirou began, sighing as he squeezed the rest of the water from his hair, "If you hadn't said something so embarrassing."
“Aww, you’re so cute when you’re all flustered.” She reached out to ruffle his red hair like a little child. Shirou pulled away as if scalded, red in the face and eyes narrowed half heartedly.
“Well anyway.” Taiga straightened up and threw the bottle on a nearby trash can. “We still a few ways to go, so we better get going.” She grabbed her helmet and strapped it on. “Come on! We gotta hustle if we wanna get there early.” To emphasize this, the woman moved the motorcycle off the parking lot swiftly, seating herself down and handing him his own helmet with an impatient: “Hurry up, hurry up, hurry uuuuup!”
Snatching the helmet and putting it on, Shirou obediently sat himself on the backseat without complaints, wrapping his arms around her midriff, “At least go slower this time.” He muttered.
“Fine you big baby,” Taiga jibed. She turned on the ignition, the engines giving a low hum as they were reinvigorated, “Oh, and before I forget.” She unzipped the tank bag and dug out a canned soda.
Shirou raised an eyebrow, “You’re still thirsty?” He saw her glancing at the teenagers, who were now oblivious to them, testing the weight of the beverage. His eyes widened in realization.
“This isn’t for me,” Grinning nastily, she lifted the tab, opening the canned soda with a small “pop!”
“It’s for them!” With that, the can sailed into the air as Taiga threw it towards the unsuspecting group of youngsters. She revved the motor and sped away just as Shirou heard the indignant cry of “What the-!”
“Hahaha!” And once more the demon of the highways laughed at the turmoil she wreaked upon her victims on the road.
“Alright!” She growled while adding pressure on the throttle, the mighty engines of her metal beast rumbling with her in response. This time, Shirou made neither a peep nor a squeak, just holding on for the sake of his safety.
After all, as fast as she was going now, it was still slower than before.
“Onward!” she roared over the turbulent winds that had enclosed them. “To Fuuto City!”
Aaaaand that’s that. Hope you enjoyed. All criticisms are welcome. For those who already know what it's crossed with, then good for you. For those don't, well keep reading to find out.
Next chapter is currently in the works.
My thanks to people who helped with this.