Chapter 8: Wanna make a porno boring? Make it a montage! And boring! With none of the kinky shit that that you watch and get off on but deny under oath when talking to others because you're a pussy! Bow chicka bow wow!
I don't own Highschool DxD, any of its characters, or any references in this story. If I did, horrible things would happen. Neither do I own any other anime that I reference. I do own all OC's and new abilities in the story as well as every ounce of pure awesome spawned by this.
o. o. o.
Eight years ago:
How did he get roped into this?
The man sighed.
He was taller than most, and extremely muscular at that. Combined, it made him an absolute giant in Asia in general, let alone Japan.
As if that and his European features didn't make him stand out as it was, his hair style didn't make things better. More than once, he questioned why he didn't allow nature and gravity to take over when he was in the realm of mortals.
After all, it wasn't often that a man styled his hair in a way that made it perfectly flat on the top. His facial hair and image that reminded others of a grumpy black furred lion almost guaranteed his inability to do anything discrete and had been brought up in conversation more than once. Primarily by Azazel.
It was a normal building in a normal neighborhood… almost normal at least. Apparently the area was owned by the Devils, but he had gotten permission to come here after the right strings were pulled. Unofficial war or not, it wasn't uncommon for individuals from the three factions to allow others visit their territories if the need arose so long as the right gears were greased and the local rules were followed.
He felt sad for the people here though. There was no doubt in Baraquiel's mind that they were going to be under heavy watch the moment he left the area.
Then again, he wasn't here for anything particularly important in the first place. He was just giving some thanks and satisfying another troublesome whim of Azazel's.
Adjusting his tie, he sighed once more to himself. He really didn't want to be here. This was supposed to be one of his few weekends off. He wanted to spend time with Akeno and Shuri. At the very least, the trip back home wouldn't take long. Then again, it was because he lived so close that Azazel loaded this chore on him in the first place.
Taking the last few steps forward, one of the first Fallen Angels approached the house and rang the doorbell.
"Coming!" A woman's voice answered from the other side within seconds. A few more passed, and the door opened to reveal the face of a kind human female with brown hair that reminded him of his wife. Not in size or stature, but in the general kind hominess that brought him peace at home. Seeing it here brought him some peace unconsciously. "Can I help you?"
Judging from the widening of her eyes when she first saw him, he guessed that she was slightly caught off guard by his size, which wasn't surprising. "Yes. Pardon my intrusion, but this is the Hyoudou residence, correct? Ichirou and Asami Hyoudou?"
"Yes?" Asami warily looked at the man skeptically. Since he said their family name last, he was clearly a foreigner that was not yet adjusted to the local culture. "My husband and I live here. Is there a problem? What can we do for you, Mr…?"
"Baraquiel Himejima. I am sorry if I am disturbing your day, showing up like this." He bowed politely from the waist, just as his wife taught him. He still wasn't completely acclimated to the customs here.
"Oh, no. Not at all. I'm sorry if I was being rude." Asami bowed in return. "I was just with my son and his friend in the kitchen. We were making pastries."
"My apologies. I will not take up much time." He apologized again, knowing how important being polite was here. "I will make this quick. I came here to represent a business partner of mine. Recently we have been receiving some mail that identified a condition employee of ours that escaped our notice. One that could have been life threatening if not addressed any later than it had. The mail and the contents of it were anonymous. Typed for the most part. However, some of the evidence inside was electronic, not printed. Thumb drives filled with photos and videos and the like. My friend is a rather curious and resourceful individual, and managed to get enough data from the drives to trace certain identification traits to a computer under your name. He and I are interested in thanking the person responsible for this."
Azazel also managed to trace the DNA on the saliva used to seal the letter to this location too, but he doubted that telling anyone that bit of information would go over well.
Really, the Fallen Governor wouldn't have even taken notice of this sort of thing in the first place if the woman in question was the only one getting the mail.
It did get his notice when people up the chain of authority in that business started getting it as well. People up the chain of authority that weren't easily known to the public.
People like himself for example.
Truth be told, Azazel was more surprised he had a physical mailing address in the first place. Most of his messages, packages, and spam were either electronic these days or went through the Grigori first. Baraquiel believed that Azazel was more interested in finding out how the hell this anonymous sender managed to get this information in the first place.
Asami stared up at him with an unreadable gaze, as if trying to figure out if he was lying or not.
"May I ask you a question, Himejima-san?" She asked evenly, as if trying to make a decision in her head.
"Of course." He nodded.
"Forgive me if this sounds a bit odd or insulting, but you and your partner wouldn't happen to work in more… mature oriented services, would you?"
The Fallen's eyebrow twitched, leading to so many conclusions on both sides of the conversation. "It's, more my colleague's department. While I can't say I'm completely independent of it, I'd rather dedicate my time and focus on more… productive activities."
"I see." Asami's smile turned more gentile and peaceful.
Baraquiel didn't need to be a war veteran to know when someone's life was on the line at that moment. He had been on the receiving end of the same exact look whenever he had slipped up with Shuri for one reason or another.
Someone was in trouble, and it wasn't him.
"Please, come in. Have a seat in the living room. I'll get some tea for you."
"I… thank you." The man had been in enough political situations to know that he was being invited in and made comfortable more to put him in a position to humiliate whoever the guilty party was than to help him, but at this point he just wanted this all over with.
The second he took a step inside the building though, his back straightened and his nerves fired off.
There was something dangerous in this building. Something fundamentally devastating. It was as if he was a Devil stepping into the Vatican City.
He shouldn't be here.
His normally squinted and closed eyes opened and looked at the woman, taking in everything about her, from her appearance to her stance to the aura she gave off.
She was normal. A completely normal human woman that was unremarkable in every way other than her clearly angered mood. She showed no signs of infection, possession, alteration, or mental influence.
From her perspective, there was absolutely nothing wrong here.
But that couldn't be possible. Even normal humans would have noticed something off about this building with this abnormal aura saturating it… unless they had been acclimated to it for so long that they didn't even register the difference anymore.
This wasn't a trap. But it didn't make the situation any less dangerous.
Damn it Azazel. Improvising on the spot was your specialty, not his.
He allowed himself to be guided to the living room, taking in as many details of the building as he could as if examining an enemy base. Primarily where any and all possible exits were in case he had to make a fast escape.
If this was a trap, it was either impossibly well concealed, or absolute trash. From what he could tell, this place was as average and secure as any other mortal human home.
Within a few minutes, Asami had returned into the room, not only with his tea, but with her husband and son as well, the latter two looking at him and her equally confused.
"She wasn't kidding." Ichirou whistled, looking at Baraquiel up and down, clearly impressed and intimidated with what he saw.
Issei was just as transparent, his eyes wide and innocent as any nine year old would be. "Wow… the top of your hair is so flat. It's like, I could mount something on your head and it would stay there easily. Do you practice having proper posture with it? How long does it take you to get it that way? What products do you use?"
Asami smacked both of them upside their heads at the same time. "Boys. What have I told you two about talking?"
"Don't?" Ichirou winced.
"To keep it to ourselves until we are sure there aren't any witnesses nearby that will use it against us as potential libel or slander in a court of law?" Issei asked, prompting his mother to whack him again. "Ow! What!? What?!"
"What have I told you about being mouthy in front of company?" She frowned.
"D-don't?" The boy winced, backing away and getting ready to dodge in case he got this answer wrong.
She held his gaze with her own, merely raising an eyebrow skeptically as if asking a question.
"I'll be quiet." He shivered nervously with wide and terrified puppydog eyes.
Baraquiel decided to follow the rules of the house and keep quiet himself, using the tea he was served as an excellent excuse to not say anything. The parallels between Asami and his wife were great enough that he didn't dare risk triggering any more potential reactions.
"Issei. Hurry. The brownies are almost done."
"Oh! Uh. Mom? Can I go back to help Auntie Ophis?"
No. No. His eyes and ears were not being tricked or misled, as much as he would like to believe otherwise.
Sticking her head out from the doorway to the kitchen was an ebony haired girl roughly Issei's age in gothic Lolita clothing.
Sticking her head out from the kitchen of a mortal home, talking about baking brownies, was the honest to God of the Bible, the Oroboros Dragon, Ophis.
"Oi! Watch where you're spraying!" Ichirou jumped back from the wave, being the closest one to the guest.
"Hak! Uk! O-Ophis?!"
"Oh. Baraquiel. Long time no see. Did you come for the brownies too?" The Dragon God asked innocently with her borderline trademark deadpan expression and emotionless tone.
"Ophis-chan? You know this man?" Asami looked back at her first guest in genuine surprise.
"Mmm. That's Baraquiel."
"Ophis? Wh-what are you doing here of all places?!" The clearly confused man managed to wheeze out, tea saturating the wrong pipe in his throat.
"Making brownies." Her head tilted to the head side confused, as if asking if there could be another possible activity she be doing here. "Issei. Asami. They're almost done. Hurry."
"Ophis-chan, I've told you before. Even if we take them out, you can't have any yet. We have to let them cool off first before we can cut them properly." Asami sighed, rubbing her temple. Clearly this wasn't the first time she's had this conversation.
"So you and Ophis-chan know each other? Huh. Small world." Ichirou mused, brushing off the tea from his clothes. "Do you mind me asking how? You don't exactly look like the sort of person that would be interacting with kids that look and act like her."
Baraquiel had to take a moment to get his head on straight and clear his throat. Brownies. The Strongest being on the planet… was in a mortal home with a mortal family… making brownies.
If he didn't know that Azazel had a screw or two loose, he would have been sure that his friend would have had as much trouble believing this as he did.
"I, um, Ophis, chan, is fairly well known in certain circles." He fumbled over his words, something he rarely did outside of dealing with his wife. "Despite her appearance, she's quite reputed and respected among those of our… position. She's also rather private, independent, and difficult to find. Seeing her here is, well, you've seen my reaction. I assure you, it's not unwarranted."
"Eh? Ophis-chan is famous?" Ichirou tilted his head to the side in confusion, trying to remember if he's ever seen her before.
"Baraquiel-san. Are you by chance insinuating that our other guest is also involved in you and your partner's… business activities?" Asami asked with a dangerous tone.
"Business act… oh. Oh! No! No no no! Absolutely not!" The Fallen shook his head frantically in denial. The mere idea of trying to get the Oroboros Dragon involved in porn, and in her current form no less, was nothing short of traumatizing and nightmare inducing. Even Azazel wouldn't dare play with the idea.
Due to his frantic denial, he completely missed the speculative look that Issei gave him before looking at Ophis and back again.
"Business activities?" Ichirou frowned in confusion. "Honey. What's all this about?"
Asami maintained her disarming, gentile, and absolutely fake as hell smile. "Baraquiel-san apparently works for an adult oriented company. Recently, one of his employees was sent an anonymous letter regarding her health, but due to their resourcefulness, the company traced the information on the thumbdrives they received back to one of our computers."
No one misheard the heavy swallowing of lone small boy in the room.
"Baraquiel-san, when by chance did you receive these letters?"
The Fallen Angel had a feeling he was hammering down the final nail in someone's coffin by doing this. "From what I understand, there were multiple letters actually. The first came about three months ago. Yuki… our client, ignored them at first as fan mail, but when they kept coming every week for a month we took notice and started interpreting them as sent from a potential stalker. It was only when some of the higher ups and lawyers looked into the contents that they started to take them seriously."
"Three months ago, hmmm?" Asami looked down at her son with an unreadable expression.
Issei didn't return it. He was too busy trembling in fear from apparently being caught doing something wrong. He looked and acted the very part of a child that knew he was in deep shit.
It didn't take a genius or a mind reader to figure out who was responsible for the letters by this point.
A bell rang in the kitchen.
"Asami. Issei. Brownies."
Ophis didn't seem to care about what was going on. She knew what her priorities were.
"Ichirou, can you get that please? You know how Ophis-chan gets when something holds up her snacks." Asami shook her head and sighed, lamenting the impatient behavior of what looked to be a small child.
Baraquiel was starting to seriously consider leaving out Ophis' presence when he made his report to Azazel later. This entire situation was ridiculous.
"Damn. Just as we were getting to the good part." The man of the house sighed before turning to the kitchen. "Hold on Ophis-chan. I'll help you out."
"How? You worse at cooking than me." Ophis questioned skeptically. "Asami says that you burn water."
"Shut up! I'm just taking the pan out of the oven! Even I can do that!"
No. No. He definitely was not going to mention Ophis to Azazel. He was also pretty sure that he had subconsciously just sworn off brownies for life just now.
"Is, is there a problem with what I just said earlier?" He tried to change the topic back to the one at hand. The sooner he got out of this place the better.
"Hm? Oh. No, it's not really a problem." Asami denied sweetly, causing her son to shiver even more than normal. "It's just that a few months ago, my dear boy here accidentally infected our home computer with some viruses while… exploring the internet. It caused us quite a bit of trouble and cost us more money than we would have liked to replace it and all the important information we had on it. As a result, he was grounded from using it for any reason other than homework or other important reasons. Three months ago, no, even now, he's still grounded. And he's likely to stay that way for quite a bit longer if I have any say in it."
"B-b-but. But, but that woman. Sh-she was in trouble…" Issei stammered, unable to control his shaking. "E-every time she orgasmed, she had strabismus. Her eyes pointed in different directions. Not cross eyed, but in other ways. It was getting worse in her more recent videos. I-It was getting dangerous. S-she was having small epileptic fits when she climaxed and no one was noticing it because they thought the shaking and the face she made was part of her act…"
"While I can't have any say in your son's punishment for breaking the rules," Baraquiel interjected, coughing on purpose, "Might I have some say in his reward?"
"Reward?" The mother and child echoed in confusion.
He nodded, turning to Issei. The boy was a shivering wreck, but he knew what he was talking about just now. He was clearly studying medicine, which gave further proof to what he was about to say. "The letters that were sent, the files on the drives he added were rather detailed. Documents and images from various videos that showed proof of our client's condition. Of course, it was impossible to precisely identify the exact source or source of her affliction just from that, but your son, Issei I believe, did make a list of thirty something potential causes… including the correct one."
Issei brightened up at the revelation, as if he was relieved and elated that he had been of genuine help and correct in his assumptions.
A swift look from his mother killed any good feelings he had.
Asami only looked more conflicted. "And? My son is only nine. While I do admit he does deserve a proper thanks for saving this woman's life, I'm not sure what you can do for someone his age. People will ask questions if a mature company like yours is doing something for a boy of his age."
A porn company aiding the endeavors of a nine year old child. Yeah, that wouldn't go over well no matter what country you lived in.
He had a suspicion, but he needed to find out for sure first. He turned to the small boy and looked at him closely. The man hunched over so that he was closer to his height, to make him feel more comfortable. "Issei. Do you by chance know what Ophis is? Do you have an idea of who I am?"
"Baraquiel-san? What do you mean by that, exactly?" Asami asked warily, confused by the question.
Issei rubbed his left arm with his right hand, uncomfortable with the situation. "Y-yeah. I know who Auntie-Ophis is. And, I think I know who you are too. Your friend is Azazel, right?"
Well, that settled one curiosity.
A normal home. A normal neighborhood. A normal family.
But this boy wasn't normal, and he knew it. Baraquiel would find out how later, but it had to be something peculiar to attract Ophis of all entities here.
Once again, sometimes the biggest things came from the smallest places.
The man nodded in confirmation. Clearly the kid didn't expect to be visited by a Fallen, and despite Ophis being here, he clearly didn't want to be dragged into the mystical side of things. Not now at least. Best to keep things that way until he had a better idea of the situation. No need pissing off the most powerful existence on the planet by getting ahead of himself. "Mmm. You're pretty impressive for a boy your age. Even I had to do a bit of research to understand all the medical terms you used in your letters. I came here expecting to find a Doctor, or a dedicated college student at the very least. You are very talented."
"Th-thanks." Issei blushed. He didn't get many compliments these days. He did get perfect scores in school, but all the kids in his age group didn't seem to like that. They were slower than him in almost every way. Even the teachers didn't seem to pay him any mind anymore, treating him more like a chore than anything else. Sometimes he tried to help out in class by throwing in a few extra details that the teachers missed or got wrong, but that rarely tended to go over well.
Most of the time these days, when he was the center of attention, he was subject of scorn, annoyance, or jealousy.
Ghost and Ddraig just told him to ignore the masses and to keep on focusing on what he wanted. That what meaningless strangers thought of him didn't matter. They were right, but it didn't make him feel any better. Those two guys were super strong monsters with egos as big as their kill counts.
Ophis on the other hand was so detached from reality and people that she didn't get the point of his questions when he asked her for advice in the first place.
Mom and Dad did praise him and loved how smart he was, but after two years of cheating his intellectual development, even that had slowed down to a trickle. He couldn't even jump a grade level or two even if he wanted to. Dad didn't earn enough money to request something like that, and they didn't know enough people to ask for such a favor from the school or government. He would have to do something massive or outstanding in order to warrant someone to sponsor his accelerated education, but he was nine. There wasn't much he could do other than win some meaningless tournament and look pretty for the camera.
It didn't help that practically everyone at school knew that his life's goal was to get a harem by now.
No. He didn't like crowds. Most people either didn't get him or didn't want to understand him. Grouping them all together only made things worse.
He wanted to grow up. He wanted his harem.
"You're trying to be a doctor when you get older?"
"Yeah. I wanna help people and earn lots of money. That way I can support my harem when I'm big."
Baraquiel blinked. Had he…?
"Issei." Asami groaned, crossing her arms with one hand over her eyes. "I don't know what to do with you. I tell you to stop telling people about your harem dream and you ignore me. I tell you to stop watching porn on the internet and you ignore me. I have half a mind to tell you to not get involved in any shady organizations, but apparently you've already beaten me to it, and will just ignore me regardless. Does being a genius really mean you are guaranteed to be selectively deaf whenever I expect you to do something? Is that why you don't clean your room or wash the dishes?"
Apparently yes, he did hear the boy correctly.
Damn it Azazel. He was loading this kid onto the Governor the first chance he got.
"Issei. The brownies are cooled off. We can cut them now." Ophis stuck her head out from the doorway, somehow managing to look completely bored out of her mind, yet eager as a hyperactive child at the same time.
… The first chance he got.
o. o. o.
"Hmm. These are all right."
"I'm a fighter, not a connoisseur."
Sitting on top of a building, a small black haired Lolita ate a bakery bought fudge brownie next to a silver haired teen.
Both of them didn't bother to look at one another, preferring to take in the image of the city in front of them without focusing on anything at all.
They didn't say anything. Neither of them were rather talkative individuals, even though they got along rather well.
"Cao Cao sent some people after Issei recently." Ophis broke the silence first. A rarity.
"I told them it was pointless." Vali shrugged. "Not my fault they didn't take my warning to heart. Idiots are lucky that they're still alive."
"Issei's going outside again." She noted, taking another bite with little interest.
"Under duress. From what Azazel's told me, they've even managed to get him to go to highschool of all places."
"…" Ophis paused and looked at her comrade with an unreadable gaze.
Vali lost the unspoken stoic expression contest after a few moments, chuckling briefly. "Yeah. Those were my thoughts as well. When I heard what they were doing, I personally wished I was there when they told him just to see his face. He must have been pissed."
"You're a terrible friend." She stated bluntly, turning away again and continuing with her snack.
Her statement spoke worlds of him. Ophis was immortal. An existence that had immense trouble fully comprehending and accepting minor concepts like friendship and comradery to the point that it wouldn't be surprising if she had to take out a dictionary to look up the definition. It was only thanks to being around Issei that she could function among others in public well enough to garner unwanted attention these days.
For her to make a statement like that, sarcastic or not, held far more weight than at first glance.
He laughed at that weight. No, he laughed because of it. She wasn't wrong after all.
It was almost a rule of life. The funniest things out there were almost guaranteed to be true.
"Yeah. I am." He snickered, with a half amused half bitter smile on his lips. Despite being next to the God of Dragons, Vali Lucifer felt more relaxed than he had been in months. "I'm a terrible friend."
o. o. o.
Issei didn't come to school Monday.
He didn't go for the rest of the week either.
Sona was not impressed. Not with him, nor with Rias' explanation with what happened.
"Don't look at me." Raynare shrugged when she was interrogated on Thursday. "The guy's a hikikomori by nature, remember? He was shut in his room by the time I got back and he's been shut in there all week. Most I've seen of him is when he's raiding the kitchen late at night, but he never stayed to talk."
Whispers were already beginning to spread throughout Kuoh of the "Dragon's" disappearance. Illness. Arrestment. Murder. The number of rumors that spread throughout the week were only matched by how bizarre they eventually became.
None of them ever managed to become as peculiar as say: he freaked out after being shoved into a drugged up monster woman's fanged vagina and was covered in acidic pussy juice.
The best Raynare managed to get circulating was that he was molested by an older woman that shoved him face first into her snatch before he violently retaliated and is now hiding in his room.
Sadly, that particular story just didn't have enough romance and excitement in it, so it only lasted half a day or so before it was forgotten.
"If he kills all of you for this, don't blame me." The Fallen Angel sighed as she stood in front of the Hyoudou household with Rias, Akeno, Gasper, Sona and Saji behind her.
She'd still gladly take credit for the kills, but she'd do without the blame.
"So this is Hyoudou's house?" Saji looked at the property skeptically. "For a guy with a messed up reputation, his home is really… normal."
"No need to remind me twice." Raynare sighed, looking at Sona. "Why did you bring the noobie with you? I thought you'd have "the stacked secretary" at your side."
Sona frowned as Raynare brought up Issei's nickname for her queen, Tsubaki. "As one of the overseers of Kuoh, I do have responsibilities that need to be attended to. Tsubaki is managing some of them in the office to lessen the list. Saji is here to watch and learn. I have just added him to my peerage, and needs to learn there is more to what we do than just contracts and strays."
"Pleased to meet you. I'm Genshirou Saji. Sona's pawn." The new member beamed proudly, sticking out his hand as if he was doing her a favor.
Raynare looked at him for three seconds before dismissing him completely and walking to the house with a cringe on her face. "This guy's even more pathetic than the jackass."
"Calm down Saji." Sona held him back firmly. "You shouldn't be surprised. Fallen grunts aren't known for their manners after all."
"And devils aren't at risk of becoming strays that are ugly and unstable as sin." The girl rolled her eyes as she approached the door. "Ok. Rules review. Don't enter the building without permission from the asshole or his mother. Don't start any fights, or cause any problems. Don't enter the asshole's room without permission from him. And, the most relevant for you lot, don't get cocky and try to hypnotize the mom in any way to try and get what you want. I've been warned at least a hundred times before even coming into this place that if you do any of those, the idiot inside will blow a fuse and, literally, murder anyone involved violently. Even Azazel-sama sticks to them strictly, so don't fuck up because I will not help you if you do. Got it?"
"Ara? How surprising. I never would have expected you to care so much." Akeno smiled sweetly.
"Care nothing. I'm just making sure I have plausible deniability when one of you fucks up." The fallen snorted in dry humor before walking up to the door and unlocking it.
"Doesn't she mean if one of us screws up?" Saji winced.
"The Fallen are well reputed to lack faith in general." Sona shifted her glasses clinically. "Even we Devils have more dedication to our goals and kin than they do.
Raynare held back more than a few scathing words and spears of light. Devils have more faith than the Fallen? That was insulting in so many ways that she almost lost composure right then and there. Fucking ignorant high class devils. They were even more ignorant than the rumors said. "Just shut up, let me do the talking, and don't overstep your bounds."
She opened the door, and Rayanre became Yuuma Amano. "Asami! I'm back!"
"Yuuma-chan? You're back early." Asami called from the kitchen. "Don't you have club activities today?"
"Normally, but there were some classmates that were worried about Issei. A couple are from the student council."
"Hah. That boy. I was wondering how long he'd skip school before someone was sent over." Walking into view, the normal human walked into view and momentarily paused at the group behind Raynare. "That's quite a large group to be called some."
"Pleased to meet you." The students bowed all at once.
"And you as well." The mother responded in kind.
"Rias Gremory, Akeno Himejima, and Gasper Vladi were with me last week when Issei had his, episode." Raynare played her role well, allowing herself to wince slightly at the last word. "Sona Sitri and Saji Genshirou are part of the student council."
"I see." Oddly enough, Mrs. Hyoudou gave the students an unreadable look over before sighing in some sort of defeat. "Come in. Please, make yourself at home. I'll try to make up for my son when it comes to hospitality while you're here."
"Thanks." Many nodded before walking into the building, crossing the barriers that all three faction leaders had set up years ago…
Only Saji had reacted visibly once the threshold was crossed though.
The second he was inside the building, he had frozen in place and turned ghost white.
o. o. o.
If a person ever had the fortune, or misfortune, of being in Issei's room just a few moments earlier, they would have been graced to see him half sitting half lying in front of a desk completely asleep. His face was buried in a mix of his arms and random papers, and the three computer screens in front of him had their screensavers up, all full of different beautiful naked women in various and multiple stages of sexual activities.
"Zzzzzzzz-someone's in my house."
Without any gradual progression, Issei went from complete unconscious meat sack to a perfect imitation of a hyperactive dog that just saw a squirrel in half a second flat.
If there was one supernatural ability that Issei had that couldn't be written off by his sacred gears or Dragonic nature, it was his unnatural ability to know when someone set foot in his house, or his room depending the circumstances.
It didn't matter where he was or what he was doing at the time. The boy was better than any high tech alarm or spy cam.
There had been one proven case where he had actually bailed out of school one day in the middle of a test because Azazel and Vali thought it would have been a good idea to sneak into his room while he was gone.
It was agreed by everyone that it had not one of their smarter ideas.
People he knew and were accustomed to didn't trigger his senses terribly. His mother barely made him twitch, while Raynare was akin to a small momentary itch at this point.
Azazel was more noticeable, but in a way that he still recognized. Like being poked by an annoying family member in a way that only they did by habit.
But five people at once? Ones that actually felt like they had power? It was akin to feeling someone playing jump rope on his grave.
The only reasons why he wasn't going downstairs raining fire in every direction were that he could tell that his mother had invited them in, meaning that whoever it was wasn't blatantly aggressive and an immediate threat…
… And because at the moment, he was dressed in an undershirt and boxers.
Asami had been quite… specific, about what the repercussions would be if he shot out of his room at guests half naked again.
She had been even more specific about what they would be if he did so completely naked… again.
Let it be known to the readers that it is actually quite difficult for a normal person to manage to nauseate someone with extensive medical training.
Growling in annoyance, Issei moved to put on his clothes quickly, sniffing the air as he did so.
He flinched. Four girls and two boys. One of which was the Cougar and the rest were young, probably around his age, and absolutely none were human.
It didn't take a genius to figure out who it likely was.
Ugh. This was gonna suck.
The house was going to be loaded with natural hormones and pheromones. He was going to have to filter the air he breathed through his nose for at least a week after this. Damn it. He couldn't even relax in his own den anymore.
It was ironic. He could desensitize himself at will to the female body and voice thanks to the amount of porn he's watched, with a few spare slips every now and then. But, almost as if his body had intended to spite him because of it and compensate for his actions in some way, the mere smell of a young woman with enough hormones could drive him nuts if he wasn't careful.
He didn't even want to know how badly he'd react if he got hit full blast by a woman that was soaking wet.
Thankfully, a simple wind element spell was all he needed to filter out everything. Cheap. Simple, and something so otherwise meaningless that no one would ever notice it.
It was his second strongest element next to fire due to Ghost being in him, but he never bothered with it most of the time. At best, he found it useful for air filtering, fire enhancement, and sound manipulation. Apparently you could be absolutely broken if you mastered the versatility of the element enough, but he had never been interested in fighting in the first place.
No. He never intended or desired to be infamously strong. Then again, no one ever seemed to care about what he wanted either.
His ensemble wasn't anything special. Jeans. Red tshirt. White opened button up over that. Simple. He quickly brushed his hair with his fingers to give it some sense of organization before he walked out of the room, making as little noise as possible.
Breathe in and out. In and out. Three repetitions. Just calm down Issei. You know who it is. They're nothing special.
Moving quickly, yet quietly, he went down the stairs and to the living room.
Everyone was sitting around the small table in the middle of the room, drinking tea and eating complimentary snacks. There was the Cougar. The Weeb. The Yandere. The…
"Ah shit. They let you in?"
Everyone turned to see Issei staring at Sona with a muted, but distrustful expression.
Sona matched his glare with her own. She didn't know why, but from the first day they met, Issei did not trust her in the slightest to the point of paranoia. "This is simply another one of my responsibilities as student council president. It would not do if one of my students was absent for unexplainable reasons for long periods of time. Kuoh has an image to maintain and I intent to make sure it is upheld."
"Yeah. Image. No doubt it would wreck your plans if your cover was blown. Enabler."
Out of all the nicknames that Issei had made over the past few weeks, absolutely no one had the slightest clue as to the meaning or story behind Sona's. Truth be told, it absolutely bewildered and confused the hell out of Sona more than anyone.
Whenever anyone asked him why he did call her that, he'd just go on some tangent about her corrupting future generations from a lofty position of evil and power.
After about a week of fruitless investigation, most people just gave up and assumed Issei was just an anarchist that wasn't comfortable dealing with people in a position of authority.
The guests turned to Asami with expectant looks, as if she could explain what he was going on about.
"Don't look at me. He's normally more blatant and obvious with his nicknames." The mother shrugged helplessly. "No matter how smart he got, he was always terrible with remembering other's names. It was his way of getting around it, and he's never grown out of it."
"Tell them my life's story why don't you?" The son muttered, shooting her a half hearted glare.
"You're the genius that introduced himself on the first day of school starting with "I have an encyclopedic knowledge of porn industry"." Asami countered dryly. "As far as I'm concerned, anything and everything embarrassing is fair game."
"Mmmmgh." Much to everyone's except Raynare's surprise, Issei backed down without much of a fight, looking at the guests. "Fine. Whatever. For future reference the ones you're catering to are Weeb, Yandere, Dio-"
"Gasper." Gasper's instant correction was a kneejerk reaction more than anything at this point.
"Dio. Enabler, and…" Issei paused at Saji. "Sorry, we haven't met yet. Who are you?"
Unlike everyone else in the room, the bond teen shivered slightly, clearly uncomfortable with something. In fact, he seemed more on edge ever since Issei entered the room. "Er. Yeah. I'm Saji. Genshirou Saji. I just joined the student council under Sona-kaichou."
Issei lifted a skeptical eyebrow, examining the shivering pawn with an unreadable gaze, only briefly looking back at Sona for a moment. "… Right. And Runt."
Saji flinched. "R-Runt? How the heck am I a runt? I'm older than you are!"
"If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, shakes in its pants like a duck…" Issei disregarded Saji's attempt to defend himself and turned to Rias. "I thought I told you to not to come and bother me."
"You told us that on Sunday night." Rias sighed. "You also told us that you wouldn't be at school for the next couple of days. Not the entire week. Sona wanted to come over on Wednesday, but I managed to convince her to hold off unless you did just that. And here we are."
"Issei, your friends came to apologize for what happened and to make sure you're ok." Asami looked at him. "Please don't make this hard on everyone. From what I can tell, they're actually trying to get along with you. They told me how you were helping Gasper-chan with her problems."
"… Dio's a guy, Mom."
Asami paused, looked at the suitably embarrassed Gasper, dressed in the Kuoh Academy's female uniform, then back at Issei. "… Are you-?"
"It's more comfortable." Gasper feebly tried to defend himself while slowly moving to use Rias as a shield to hide behind.
"… Five years inside the house, and within a month you're already friends with a crossdresser. If I didn't know you better, I'd swear you actively try to find people like this."
"They come to me." Issei tried to defend himself, albeit unconvincingly.
"I don't know what you're so embarrassed about. It's not like that's the most awkward thing about you." Asami was clearly not convinced.
"Damn it mom."
The devils and fallen angel watched the bizarre interaction between mother and son with varying levels of interest. For many, it was the longest conversation they had seen that Issei had taken part in that didn't involve him insulting or talking down to the other party. If anything, he was on the receiving end of things more often than not. More importantly, they were witnessing a completely new side to the teen in general. He was still rude and unapologetic with his words, but his behavior was more like a normal teen human losing an argument with his mother.
In hindsight, it was less the idea that Issei was instinctively acting more immature because he was talking to Asami, and more Asami knew her son well enough to force him to act this way in the first place with little to no effort.
"Really." The mother sighed, completely brushing off Issei's rant complaining on how her inability to trust in his claims was a sign of poor parenting and reluctance to accept the diversity of the world's population. "Issei, I know you dislike interacting with others, but why are you making this so difficult and pretending to be ignorant of the situation? Even I can tell that Rias-chan and Sona-chan are Sirzech's and Serafall's sisters. While I am surprised to see that they are actually here, you should be able to tell what is going on."
Everyone in the room froze.
"I… what?" Sona blinked in genuine confusion.
"You, you know our siblings Asami-san?" Rias stammered. She had known that the Satans knew Issei, but his mother had never been mentioned before.
"Mmm. It's hard to forget anyone with that shade of beautiful red hair. If I didn't see it before on your brother, I would have assumed you had dyed it." Asami nodded, politely drinking her tea. "Once I knew your name and who you were, it didn't take much to connect the dots with Sona-chan. Serafall did often come and visit with Sirzechs after all."
"… I'm surprised you're being so cordial." Issei's tone dropped to one of stern annoyance. "'Zechs and Sera didn't exactly have glowing reputations with you the last I checked."
"You know they had their reasons to do what they did. They aren't bad people. Their positions simply make them less dependable than we would have liked them to be. It was merely their fault for assuming and promising more than they could." Her tone was cool and collected, however everyone in the room could tell that that was as far as she was going to go regarding that subject.
It was that reason that Sona and Rias held their questions in their throats. Clearly there were stories that were not going to be told that day.
Issei clearly had more he wanted to say on the subject, but held his tongue.
"Ara? This is quite a reveal." Akeno sighed out loud. "Rias, did you ever know of this?"
"N-no. Brother never mentioned this." Rias shook her head. "H-he did tell me about Issei. Little things. Hints and warnings here and there, but never anything like this."
"Sister was the same. Although, now that I think about it, she did seem rather excited informing me of Hyoudou in the first place." Sona agreed.
"Yeah well, things happened then, and everyone's plans were screwed up." Issei sighed. "Honestly, I don't know why those two are even trying to start things up now. It's not like it'll change anything."
"So you say, but aren't you friends with them now?" Asami probed.
The Sekiryutei looked at her with dead eyes and a tone to match. "I'm just contracted help."
Everyone flinched, including his mother.
Even Raynare couldn't help but grimace slightly at his rebuttal. He could be absolutely brutal when he wanted to be.
"Sempai…" Gasper whimpered, his hands gripping his skirt and trembling slightly.
Asami was the quickest to recover though, pity quickly replaced with thinly veiled irritation and annoyance. "Fine. Then be helpful and stop being a pain for everyone here. Sit down and keep your mouth occupied with the snacks and drinks while I talk to your classmates so that you don't get kicked out of school."
"Fine. Fine. Whatever." He knew a lost fight when he saw one. When the cards were down, he could never manage to win an argument against his mother, no matter how smart he got. He had long since written this phenomena off as one of nature's unspoken laws.
Instead of going to the couch where most of the guests were sitting, he found one of the remaining single person chairs left in the corner and brought it forward before sitting down, pretending to ignore everyone else there. Once he was close enough, he reached forward to pour himself a cup of tea and grab some biscuits, crackers, brownies, be-
Not a single person missed the horror saturated in Issei's voice as he froze reaching for the table.
Likewise, not a single person missed the sudden smugness in his mother's.
"Why are my brownies being served as snacks?"
"Because they were made for guests. You made them for that purpose after all."
The sounds of neck bones popping were heard as the surly teen slowly turned his head to his mother, his eyes wide in innocent hurt betrayal. It was as if he was a kicked puppy. "Why? Why would you do such a thing to me? You know what will happen if we don't have enough around when Auntie O shows up."
"Auntie O?" Saji asked confused, the only one voicing the question in everyone else's mind.
"Don't be so overdramatic Issei." Asami sounded like she was trying to calm him down, but the wicked smile and look in her eyes said otherwise. "Ophis-chan is not that terrible and petty."
"PFFFFFFT!" Rias could confidently say that she had never seen Sona spit-take in her life until that very moment. She probably would have enjoyed it more if she wasn't just as shell shocked as Sona was.
"O-Ophis?" Akeno stammered, not believing what she was hearing.
"She nearly killed me the last time we didn't have any woman!" Issei on the other hand, had decided to speak thee octaves higher than normal in his panic as he bolted to the kitchen.
"Uh. Sona-kaichou? Who's Ophis?" Saji asked his coughing King warily.
Rias tentatively leaned to him to answer for her best friend at a very low volume so Asami wouldn't hear. "S-she's… Ophis is the Oroboros Dragon God. The strongest being on the planet. An unsurpassed existence. Even all the Satans combined wouldn't stand a chance against her."
"All the… you, you're kidding, right?" Saji's complexion paled dramatically. "Why would someone like that come here for brownies?"
"That's what I'd like to know."
"Stop overreacting. She wasn't that bad." Asami clearly seemed to be too pleased with her son's behavior to take anything he was saying to heart, more interested in peacefully drinking her own cup of tea as sounds of cabinet opening and bags being moved were heard in the next room.
"I saw my life flash before my eyes five times!" Issei's rebuttal was even higher pitched than before. "Shit! No! No no no no no! She used up the last of the brownies! Maybe I can… fuck! We don't have enough to make another batch!"
The kitchen door slammed open, revealing a near hyperventilating and apocalyptic Issei on the other side. "Runt! Cougar! Dio! Congratulations! You're going to be useful for once! We're going to the supermarket now with you as my pack mules! This is not a drill! I repeat! This is not a fucking drill!"
"Wait. What?" Raynare choked down the brownie she had just been snacking on. "Why am I coming too?"
"Going. To. Be. Useful. For. Once." Issei repeated himself slowly word for word as if he was talking to the mentally impaired.
"Can I ask why I'm being treated so badly right off the bat?" Saji raised a hand.
"Because you were also useless for the grand five minutes I've known you. Now you have a purpose. Rejoice. You've shattered the Cougar's record, making you vastly more competent than she is."
"U-um. Why aren't you asking Akeno, Rias, or Sona to help?" Gasper hesitantly lifted a hand.
"Because those three princesses look like they wouldn't know what hard manual labor is even if it bitch slapped them in the faces." Issei stated bluntly, getting very non-amused glares in return.
"Issei. Just… just get out of the house before you start talking again." Asami sighed, rubbing her temple with her free hand and ignoring the clearly irritated looks on the girls' faces.
"You heard the woman! Chop chop! Move! If we don't make it in time, then all our asses are dead! Most importantly mine! Go! Go!" Without any sense of subtlety or patience, Issei urged Raynare, Saji and Gasper out of their seats and forced them out the door without looking back.
Leaving Asami in the room alone with Sona, Rias, and Akeno.
"He certainly doesn't seem to like us, does he?" Akeno observed, still glaring at the door.
"I'm terribly sorry about Issei. That boy has always had an "everything or nothing" personality." Asami bowed deeply. "He's not particularly fond of the idea of letting people close to him anymore. He's always been blunt, but now he uses it to try and keep his distance from anyone and everyone that tries to get close. As far as he's concerned, the only people that want to get close to him now fall into two categories. Either they just want to use him, or they are going to get hurt by association sooner or later because they're not prepared to deal with the people that want to use him."
"That's, an odd way of seeing other people." Rias admitted.
"Yes, well, after everything he's been through, even I can't argue against that logic as much as I want to." Asami sighed. "Trust is something that he's extremely reluctant to give out anymore."
"He trusts Gasper." Akeno pointed out. "To a certain degree at least. You can tell looking at them that there's an unspoken understanding between them."
"That crossdressing child?" Asami tried to get the name and person right. "There's probably more than one reason for that. That boy doesn't look like the sort to reach out for help in the first place. He's more the type to just accept that bad things happen to him and leave it at that no matter how wrong it is. My son… it's too much like looking in a mirror for him. As rude as he can be at times, his heart is still in the same place it's always been."
The three devils had to take a moment to think about that. Issei and Gasper were that similar? Even by the most twisted logic, it was rather difficult for them to come to that conclusion.
"Are you insinuating that Issei has a habit of helping people that are in trouble?" Sona started slowly. "I'm only asking because there was an incident two weeks ago. He helped identify some signs of abuse on another student under irregular circumstances. After the event though, he kept quiet about the whole thing and acted as if it never happened in the first place, even when some of the people who were involved at the time approached him about it later."
The silence in the room was damning as Asami digested what Sona said slowly before sighing and cradling her face with one hand. "That boy. He's such a damn hypocrite sometimes. He can't help but get in other's problems if he thinks no one else has seen it or is willing to address it, but does everything in his power to keep people away from his own issues, even if he desperately and clearly needs the support, even when he's absolutely useless at helping himself."
"This isn't the first time he's done something like that?" Rias concluded.
"Issei's… smarter, than he appears. And talks. And acts…"
"You don't have to sugarcoat it." Sona deadpanned. "He's pretty much seen as the unofficial thug at school. Everyone would be more concerned about it if he did more than just sleep all day in the middle of class and scare anyone that tried to wake him up."
Asami smiled sheepishly. "Yes well… back then he was better behaved. Somewhat."
"Somewhat?" Akeno lifted an eyebrow.
"… He was cute and hyperactive and talked as much as he did now." The woman dropped her head in depression. "Intelligence and lack of a filter that only childish innocence could provide don't mix well."
"Ah." The girls nodded at once.
"While most would consider it a boon, it has caused him more problems than solved. You could say it's the main reason why he's become what he is today. When he was younger, it isolated him from his peers, although, there were other reasons that I won't get into. He soon distanced himself from most people because they all treated him differently sooner or later. He's always hated crowds, but it was never extreme until… later on."
The Devils assumed that whatever the woman was referring to was the event that had Issei lock himself in his room for years on end. They wisely let the woman continue and didn't say a word.
"Even then, he's always been the first to help someone if he thought he could do so, regardless of how it looked from an outside perspective. Back when he was nine, well, long story short, he actually identified a brain tumor in a porn actress from her videos, then spammed the company hierarchy up to the hidden president and owners with his findings through anonymous mail until they actually did something about it. That's the sort of person my son is, even if he tries to hide it as much as possible now."
"He identified a brain tumor, at age nine… by watching porn?" Sona summarized Asami's story with more than a hint of skepticism.
"Technically, it was one of a list of possible things he made that the woman could have had from the symptoms she displayed. But yes, he did." The mother sheepishly looked away. "He was also grounded from the computer at the time for watching porn in the first place, which is probably why he didn't tell us about what he was doing. He's as rude and tactless as can be, but my son does live up to his namesake of being honest. He's terrible at lying, especially if he's put on the spot. He doesn't like liars either, and by extension, people that omit the truth in order to give others the wrong idea about things. He also gets incredibly guilty whenever he feels that he's responsible for something bad that happened to someone else. Whatever he says, you can be assured that he's being genuinely honest about it, whether you want him to or not."
Akeno took that moment to drink innocently from her tea.
"Yes, I've certainly seen that part of him in action first hand. He hasn't made it an endearing quality, has he?" Rias laughed nervously.
"Getting him to shut up is simple enough. It's getting him to keep quiet before he says anything, that's the real miracle." Judging from her expression, it was clear that Asami had yet to find said miracle.
"And how would we go about doing that in the first place?" Sona probed, unconsciously prompting her friends to lean forward as well.
"Easy. Just whack him upside the head the moment he says something stupid." The woman shrugged with a resigned look on her face and sipped her tea.
The girls froze in place, not believing what they were hearing. "Eh?"
"You don't have to aim for his head of course. His ribs work just fine as well. Anything that gives him a solid jolt will get the job done really." Asami continued as if talking about the weather.
"We… we are talking about Issei, correct? Your son? The person that reacts violently whenever he's touched in any way?" Rias asked, more to clarify what she was hearing more than Asami's solution. "On the first day of school, it's rumored he nearly knocked out three different teachers that tried to wake him up during their classes before his room found a way to do it safely."
"Oh that? He only does that if he isn't mentally and emotionally prepared to be touched in the first place. Even I can't get away without a reaction if I try to wake him up physically or surprise him. To this day I only know of one person that can do it without setting him off, and she's currently in America." The mother waved off their worries lazily, as if her son's violent disposition was of little consequence.
"Are you insinuating that he is mentally and emotionally prepared to be touched when he's being rude?" Sona attempted to clarify what the woman just said, more for herself than anyone else.
"Make no mistake, he knows full well when he's being insufferable, and half expects someone to react when he does. It's why almost anyone that he at least tolerates can get away with a little corrective action from time to time. Treating him with children's gloves the entire time will get you nowhere. He's probably secretly enjoying the fact that he can mouth off to you with nearly no repercussions right now."
"My my. Issei really is a naughty boy, isn't he? Needing and expecting near perpetual discipline like that." Akeno purred with a delighted look in her eyes.
Asami sighed. "I wouldn't say near perpetual. He's rude, but if you ever bother to pay attention to what he's saying rather than how he says it, you'd notice that he's rarely ever actually wrong. Poor presentation but quality content. You've all probably noticed it by now. Issei's quite sharp and observant. It makes it frustratingly hard to win an argument against him if he stands his ground unless I pull out some cheap tricks. Reacting poorly just because you don't like what he's saying in general won't earn you any points. If you genuinely plan on trying to be friends, I'd recommend spending more time listening to what he says rather than how he says it, even if you disagree with it at first."
Rias and Akeno recalled the teardown he gave them last Sunday in particular and had to reluctantly agree with the statement.
Sona coughed politely. "While you have given us a good deal to think about, Issei's disposition is not the reason why we, or rather I, am here. I am here to address a student not attending class for a week without a proper excuse. A few days I can tolerate, but this is too much. He's missing vital classes and assignments he will need to complete his education."
Contrary to what the Devils expected, Asami merely failed to hold back an amused chuckle that somehow spawned from her previously tired and weary demeanor. "Ah. Yes. Classwork and homework. My son does have to complete those, doesn't he?"
"I fail to see what is so funny about this." Sona shifted her glasses in a way that reflected light and tended to make her look more intelligent to most people.
It didn't work on Asami. If anything, it amused her even more. "I'm sure my son will manage to find a way to catch up. He's not the sort to leave projects and assignments unfinished. If he encounters any issues doing so, please contact me so I can let him know how he's, falling behind."
Judging from the giggles escaping from the woman's mouth, there was clearly a joke that the guests weren't getting.
"Is there something we need to know?" Akeno asked curiously.
"No. No. Believe it or not, Issei's a workaholic. Regardless of how distraught he may be, it's his work habits that are the reason why he's falling asleep all the time. He's had a polyphasic sleep cycle since he was eight." Asami smiled. "It's better to keep him occupied this way now that I think about it. It's when he gets interested in odd projects that problems happen."
"What kind of problems?" Sona frowned.
"Mostly it's just unwanted attention for him. The bigger the project, the wider he spreads out to gather more information and resources, often contacting people that he shouldn't be able to in any way. I can't tell you how many times he's had to get Azazel-san's help to clear up a misunderstanding because Issei looked in the wrong places or asked the wrong questions. That boy has absolutely no sense of danger when he's after something he wants."
o. o. o.
"Thankfully, he's been quiet and behaved in that regard for the past few years, and he hasn't done anything recently that would cause him to focus on something dangerous or abnormal."
Up in Issei's room, the papers on the desk he had been sleeping on fell to the floor.
Several photographs were among them, including some of the deceased devil named Viser.
The rest of the written papers were medical records, lists of drugs, doctors, and hospitals.
On another part of the room, on the back side of a cheap notification board, were pictures of demons, fallen angels, yokai, angels, monsters, locations, money, events, and lists of notes all pinned in order by how they related to one another.
The setup was clearly not complete though, as there was one photo above them all. It had a few connections. A few old men. A human girl. A couple of devils. Issei himself. A building in America, but nothing that connected it to the myriad of string and paper further down below.
o. o. o.
"I've heard of people adapting their sleep schedules like that, but I've never met anyone that has before. It's supposed to take a lot of work to adapt to." Sona mused.
"You have no idea. It took forever for him to stop nodding off at the dinner table in the middle of his meals. Though I did get some good blackmail pictures out of it." Asami smirked in a way that only a gossiping housewife could. "For example, did you know he cuddles when he sleeps?"
"Ara? Out of everything you've said today Asami-san, that is no doubt the hardest to believe." Akeno chided, though her viciously wide grin said something completely different.
"It's true." Asami nodded eagerly. "He instantly wakes up if it's a man, but if a woman or someone near his age gets near him and doesn't do much, he'll just latch onto them unconsciously and thinks they're a pillow. It's absolutely adorable… at least it is when the person he's holding onto is prepared for it. There were a few awkward moments when he was younger. He likes to pretend they didn't happen."
"That does sound interesting…" Rias nodded with a small blush at the thought of Issei snuggling like a cute pet. A rough outside but a tame inside. Didn't they call people like that tsundere here? Maybe she should call him that next time they talk and see how he likes it. From a safe distance, just in case. "But, how would you get him off of you afterwards? Waking him up isn't exactly an easy thing to do."
"Oh there are plenty of ways. You can use my name and Azazel in the same sentence. Say that someone is planning to try and get into his room. Say that you'll do something that is unhealthy or unsafe to your body. Any of those will cause him to snap to attention instantly. It's the physical things that you flat out avoid."
"I'll make a note of it." Sona shifted uncomfortably. "If I may ask, why are you so forthcoming about Issei with us? We only just met today, and he's only gone to school for a few weeks."
Asami blinked in surprise and looked at Sona. "I, yes we just met today, but I've known about you and Rias-chan for years. Your siblings can't stop talking about you two. Serafall and Sirzech-san always made sure to show me pictures of you two whenever we got together in person, and I was told that you were in the school before it even started. In fact if things had turned out differently, you would have met Issei years ago."
All three devils wore the same looks of shock and disbelief.
"E-excuse me? We were supposed to meet Issei years ago?" Rias managed to stammer. Her uncertainty was understandable after all. If by "years ago", Asami meant before Issei had his breakdown, that would have meant that she would have met him before she had come to Kuoh.
Before she had come to the human world proper.
"Mmm. You would have had an easier time with him then. He was still rude, but incredibly shy and far cuter. Less aggressive too, and always willing to help a pretty girl that treated him nicely. He would have been absolute putty in your hands." The woman nodded. "Wait, you mean to tell me you didn't know that?"
"As far as I was aware, Issei was merely a person of interest to our siblings." Sona frowned with Rias nodding in agreement. She was going to have words with her dear sister later.
Asami's reaction was something that chilled her guests to the bone.
For the briefest of moments, her face went blank. Her body language went blank.
Her eyes went blank.
For the briefest of moments, she looked just like her son did whenever he killed off his emotions.
"Haaah. So that's how it is. And here I thought they had learned from what happened back then."
The three girls didn't know what their host was talking about, but they were pretty sure that whatever it was, Sirzechs and Serafall had just screwed up big time.
"Is something wrong?" Akeno, being the only one without relatives mentioned, broke the silence on their end.
"I suppose you could say that." The woman's tone was dry, calm and distracted. "It's not your fault. You don't know anything. Rather, you could say it's because you know so little. I'm surprised how careless Serafall and Sirzechs have proven themselves. You'd think that they'd remember that Issei is not the only one that they have to make things up to."
None of the girls asked what Asami meant by that. They were right to do so.
Imitating her son once more, the woman breathed deeply through her nose slowly, and exhaled at the same rate. "Do you girls know why you are here?"
"I'm sorry?" Rias blinked in confusion. "I thought that we came here to check up on Issei?"
"No. You misunderstand the question. I mean, do you know why Issei left you here alone with me after he barged outside in a panic? After I gave you all the brownies that he purposefully keeps aside for Ophis whenever she comes over?"
A sudden chill went down their spines. This conversation had been staged, not by Issei, but by by his mother. The woman had deliberately tricked her emotionally disturbed and enochlophobic son to run outside on a beautiful spring Friday afternoon where there were no doubt tons of people walking about just to talk to them in private.
"My son does not trust you. No, that's too general. He doesn't trust anyone on principle. Rather, he doesn't know what to do with you three in particular." Asami opened her eyes and looked at them coldly in theirs. "Gasper-kun. Yuuma. Saji-kun. My son is confident enough to manage being around them just fine, but not you. He doesn't know whether it is safe to be around you or not. And yet, he left you here, with me. A single Japanese housewife with no particular outstanding qualities."
All three of the girls wanted to say that there was nothing normal about this. All three of them were vastly more powerful than Asami. Any one of them could have easily killed her on the spot with but a mere thought and a flicker of their abilities.
All three of them were absolutely scared shitless of the woman sitting in front of them, looking down as though she were a judge or a ruler still contemplating what her verdict might be.
"Forgive me for being rude and blunt." The mother continued, her tone cold and firm. "It's not your fault, but I've long since lost my appreciation for games like the ones Sirzechs and Serafall are currently playing on myself, my son, and now apparently you three."
"You, really don't know anything, do you?" Rias and Akeno remembered Issei's comment during their first real conversation in the ORC. At the time it was almost inconsequential to them, but now…
"Now, please, do tell me what exactly you know about our current situation, and I will tell what I know. Don't be afraid to hide specifics. I'll be doing the same."
o. o. o.
"I-I thought it couldn't get worse. I really did." Raynare shivered and twitched, desperately trying to hold onto what little rationality and sanity she had left. "But, but this is a torture beyond imagination."
"They, they're in stereo."
While Saji wasn't nearly as traumatized or horrified as Raynare was at the scene, he was a bit disturbed by the sight of Issei and Gasper somehow synchronizing their psychotic breakdowns without even trying.
The four of them had been rushing down the street outside, primarily driven by a frantic Issei to where he claimed the closest market was, when they reached the local park.
On a beautiful spring Friday afternoon.
Filled with families, children, teens, and the occasional jogger.
And they were more or less dead center of it all.
Issei's blind panic had died viciously in an instant by the hands of pure paralyzing cold blooded horror.
Gasper didn't react much better once he got his bearings straight either.
Personally, Raynare wondered if was how the idiot would have reacted if Ophis actually did show up at that moment.
Leaning against a tree that was a fair distance from any of the main paths, Issei and Gasper were alternating their twisted and warped breathing patterns. Issei on the verge of blowing chunks, and Gasper hyperventilating into one of the spare paper bags he had grown accustomed to wearing over his head whenever his anxiety proved to be too much.
On a side note, no one knew how or when exactly, but at some point, Issei had managed to draw Dio Brando's face over all the bags Gasper had in stock in his room.
Gasper was not impressed.
"I don't know whether to laugh or be depressed by this." Saji could only watch in pure bewilderment. "This is the dreaded Sleeping Dragon of Kuoh?"
"Fuck, ulp, you Runt." Issei tried to shoot his senior a dirty glare as he leaned against the old oak with one hand, but failed to on the count of his face turning green from the effort.
"Outside. Scary. Outside. Scary." Gasper repeated his own mantra between each breath, sitting on the ground with his back against the same tree.
"I'm a babysitter. This is what my life has become now. I'm babysitting nutjob teens and devils that should be wearing safety helmets for their entire lives. My reputations over. I'm never going to be able to show my face after this." Raynare tried to rationalize her position, and failed miserably.
"At the rate you're letting yourself go, you wouldn't want to show yourself anyways. Hurk."
"To be honest with you guys, I'm still just trying to make sense of all of this in the first place." Saji lamely lifted a hand as if he was in class.
"And you wonder why I call you Runt."
"Hey! I was only reincarnated last week! Give me some slack!" Saji snapped.
"Ah. Aha. Nothing but a babysitter. A servant. Ahahaha."
"I think she's *wheeze* reaching her limit guys." Gasper spoke between deep breaths.
"Urk. I can get her a maid outfit if she wants. Don't know how long it would fit her though."
"You're not *gasp* helping sempai."
"Whoa. Whoa whoa. Calm down. From what I've seen, you're the only other sane person here. Don't leave me alone in this." Saji pleaded to Raynare before she had a meltdown.
"Waaah." Gasper whimpered, scared by the Fallen's laughter. He was already at the end of his rope if the tears in his eyes and shaking were any indication.
"Sanity is relative and based on perspective." Issei gurgled. "The stuff's like diamonds. Overrated. Overvalued. Overhyped. The market's broken for a useless product. Fuck sanity. It's never done me any favors. I want a refund."
"You need to have sanity to give back to get the refund in the first place." Raynare shot him a dirty look.
"Like your clothes?"
"What did you say?"
"Will you two cut it out?" Saji interjected. "I swear it's like the pair of you hate one another so much you're in love or something."
The pair looked at him as though he grew a second head. Both turned green, and then their cheeks puffed out.
"Ulp. I'm gonna hurl." Raynare gasped.
"Dibs on the bush." Issei lurched to the side.
"Hell no. I saw it first." Raynare raced him to it.
Saji groaned and pretended to ignore the combination or wreching and arguing that was taking place, preferring to focus on the still hyperventilating Gasper. "How is it that I'm the normal one among you guys? Please don't tell me I'm going to wind up as messed up as you by being a Devil."
"I don't *breathe* know." The vampire shivered. "Depends on *gasp* Sona-taichou."
"Oh. Ok. I should be safe then."
"Ha! Hahahahooogh?! Fuck! I laughed too harrrrogh!" Apparently, Saji's response to Gasper's answer amused Issei enough to make him loose control over his stomach.
"Kya?! What are you doing?! Other way asshole! Other way!"
Deciding to move so that he wasn't downwind of the upchucking pair, Saji decided to look around a bit. Truth be told, he wasn't even supposed to be going to Kuoh in the first place. He lived on the other side of town, the less affluent part of the city, so commuting to school every day was a bit of a hassle. If it weren't for his high grades in middleschool, good reputation, and a favor from one of his uncles that worked in the system, he probably wouldn't have gotten in.
It made the idea that Issei living here even more interesting and peculiar. This part of the city was fairly pricy. Not ball busting expensive, but enough that you'd be hard pressed to see a single mother be able to scrape a comfortable living with her child getting ready to apply to college. Neither mother nor son looked like they were raised among the elite. Upper middle class maybe, but nowhere near Sona's and Rias' pedigree.
Then again, maybe it had something to do with Issei's father. The man clearly wasn't around, and Asami's hands had no rings on them, so the guy was either dead or he divorced his wife. Maybe they were living off of divorce or life insurance money. It was a bit abnormal, especially here in Japan, but then again word was that Issei had lived for a while in America. Something probably happened there.
"That bastard. He can't keep his mouth shut for anything." Raynare snarled as she stomped towards him barefooted while holding her shoes in one hand. Judging by the wet splotches on them, it looked like she didn't manage to get out of his range of regurgitation in time.
Saji shrugged. "Well you both went in the same direction when about to blow. It was likely to happen… h-hey. Wait. Why are you coming to me? Ack?!"
With a savage tug, the Fallen grabbed Saji's clothes and started using them to wipe her shoes clean. "Shut up and be useful. Stupid baby devil. If you don't, I'll kill you."
Judging from the malicious aura she was giving off, Saji was hesitantly believing that she was telling the truth. "O-oi! Come on! I didn't do anything! And I'm not weak! I have four pawns in me!"
"Spoken like a true noooboh god there's more! Huogh! Why?! Why is there moooooogh!"
"Wow. I didn't know you eat so much sempai." Gasper watched in wide eyed fascination. It was a disgusting performance but he couldn't look away.
"I don't! Waaauuuugh!" The Sekiryutei was now stuck between crying and throwing up now.
"It was amusing at first, or it would have been if he didn't hurl on me, but now it's just gross." Raynare huffed, getting nods of agreement from the devils with her.
"Um. Is someone here? I hear screaming. Is there a problem?"
"It's nothing." Raynare sighed. "Just two idiots getting sick over nothing."
"Keep that up and I'll define you as "nothing" so I can validate that statement." Issei half gurgled half hissed without turning around.
"Try it. I dare you."
"Ignore what they say. It's what they do." Saji shook his head and turned to the newcomer, but was cut off as the stranger rushed past him to Issei.
"Oh no! You really are sick! Do you need help?"
"Oi. What's she saying? I don't speak Italian."
"Italian?" Saji blinked in confusion as he watched the back of a girl dressed in nuns clothing move to Issei. "She's speaking Japanese to me."
"Wah?!" Gasper, slightly more aware of the situation, realized what the newcomer was and stumbled back.
"Aaah." Raynare groaned, slapping herself in the face at the slip up. The gift of tongues was a useful trick that all Devils, Angels, and Fallen had, but it also was one hell of a weakness if used right. It was a common tactic from the old times to have speakers of multiple languages around at once in order to try and trick a non-human to reveal itself by switching dialects or speakers on the fly and see if the target noticed anything. It was used less often these days, but still happened from time to time.
As it stood now, the only humans there were Issei and the newcomer.
"Fucking clueless Runt. Did the Enabler tell you anything usefuuuoh shit there's more stomach acid!" Clearly, Issei was aware of the weakness of the Gift of Tongues as well. And his stomach.
"Here. Let me help." The girl approached Issei with her hands held out to him.
"What? Wait wait wait!" Saji panicked. "D-don't do that! He doesn't like being-!?"
A ring appeared on each of the nun's hands, encasing them in a soothing green energy as she pressed them gently against Issei's back.
At first, the dragon reacted as expected. His body flinched violently and went stiff. However, just as the recoil and vicious strike was about to engage, Issei surprisingly, albeit slowly, relaxed.
"… Touched." Saji blinked in genuine astonishment, much like Raynare and Gasper.
"He didn't lash out." Gasper was surprised.
"That girl…" Raynare had a bad feeling about this. "She's using a Sacred Gear."
"Ugh." Issei groaned in half exhaustion and half relief as the glow seemed to have an effect on him. "This is… good. You're good at this. What spell are you using? The way everything's calming down and your magic… the process is working on everything all at once."
"Sempai. Are you ok?" Gasper asked from the other side of the tree they were gathered around, afraid to be near the newcomer.
Issei didn't seem to notice the question. "Tachycardia. Hyperesthesia. Hypertension. Dyspepsia. Even the acid in my throat's clearing up… are you using general malady conceptual extraction?"
"Um. I don't know what you're saying, but I'm going to guess that you're thanking me." The girl shyly smiled.
"He wasn't thanking you…" Raynare muttered softly, her mind working on autopilot.
A blonde nun with a Sacred Gear. This was the girl that Dohnaseek had told her about.
This was the girl that Raynare was supposed to send his way if she found the human first.
This was the girl that she was to prevent being discovered by the Devils or any other party.
Tilting his head back, the Sekiryutei looked at the blonde nun in white clothes with innocent green eyes and a shy demeanor. They looked at one another in awkward silence with her hands on his back.
"… God is dead. At least a quarter of the Fathers and Cardinals screw choir boys and orphans in the Vatican on a weekly basis, and the whole mess in the middle east was the result of a fucked up and failed attempt by Michael and Heaven to try and magnify and extract the power of worship and prayer from Muslims because everyone keeps on forgetting that they actually do worship the same biblical God as Catholics and Jews and just differ in how to do it."
Gasper, Raynare, and Saji couldn't say anything. They all just stared at Issei with bugged out eyes and jaws that were so wide open that they were probably unhinged.
Asia merely blinked in confusion, her smile growing even more uncertain. "Uh… your welcome?"
"Nope." Issei dropped his head and let her continue to heal him. "Definitely doesn't know Japanese."
He'd focus on what the flying fuck a member of the Church that didn't know Japanese was doing here alone here in Japan later. Right now he had more important things to do…
… Now then. What was he going to call her?
She was pretty cute. A nun. Blonde. Also fairly clueless and innocent judging from the look in her eyes...
Ah. He'll call her Puppy. Adorable. Sweet. Probably a purebred…
He felt her hands move up his back up to his shoulder blades. A chill went down his spine as he realized that she was still touching him. She touched him and he didn't tear her apart.
After wandering onto a group that consisted of a freshly reincarnated Devil, the Sekiryutei, a Fallen Angel who has a temper that's actually shorter than her self-control, and a Dio Brando.
As a member of the church, walking alone inside Gremory territory, and not knowing the damn local language.
… And very likely to wander into the streets and get run over by a semi if anyone takes their eyes off of her.
He could already tell that the next few days were going to be a pain.
o. o. o.
This chapter is unbetaed. If anyone wants to beta this story, please let me know. Keep in mind, my grammar isn't the best at times. That's why I need a beta.
For future reference, until I say otherwise, Asia is speaking Italian while everyone else is speaking Japanese or some other language.
This took way longer to get out than I thought it was going to. Asami's conversation with Rias and the others took forever. I rewrote it so many times and I still personally don't like how it turned out in the end. The pacing feels a bit off.
Truth be told, the whole meetup with Asia was going to wind up differently too. Issei and the group were supposed to see her wandering around cluelessly, they spy on her, some minor exposition, and then Issei does his grand statement of a thousand secrets to try and get a rise out of her while hiding in the bushes. But this seemed to flow better. It was less forced and worked well with everyone's personalities. Less comedy than I had planned, but I can make it up later.
In contrast, I think I managed to do both of the flashback scenes in a single go. Not sure what to make of that.
On a side note, it's not strictly canon, but I'll be damned if Azazel wasn't a major sponsor or investor in the mortal porn industry. The man is an entrepreneur and a suave magnificent bastard that fell in the first place because he wanted the sex. There's no way he wouldn't be part of the industry if he had the chance. Fuck being the governor. Porn was his real calling. Women need his TLC.
Of course I can't blame everything on bad writing. FGO destroyed my spare time and I was on a cruise for a week without internet so… yeah. That was a thing. No five star servants but Heracles and EMIYA get the job done fine. Already at Oceanus and ascending a crap ton of my other Servants to get more sage prisms. My last 10 pull landed me two five star essences and three four star essences, so it wasn't bad.
Damn it. I want the next update already.
Oh, if anyone wants to friend me, my number is 045,045,065.
So, more backstory. More hidden things that you don't know about because I'm a jerk. More reasons for you to keep on reading this because I'm not simply rewriting the original plot and actually throwing in my own twist on things. More of… well, the same for me.
I'll try to get the next chapter out sooner, but don't count on it. I'm at a major point in TTRT and I gotta focus on that more. Sorry.
And yes, for those that are asking, the Issei mentioned in TTRT is this one. This story takes place before the events of YAWALEH and TTRT.
So, that's about it. I'm done working on this thing. The next chapter will be far more eventful, interesting, and less exposition.
SO REVIEW! WORSHIP THE LOG! THE POWER OF BROWNIES IS IMMESURABLE! AND REVIEW AGAIN!