Disclaimer: I do not own High School DxD. I did however, own Kiki before she became cool, and before people started jumping out of moving cars for her in the Kiki Challenge. Whether she loves me or not is up for debate.
Kindly forgive the rust and cobwebs that may or may not have accumulated. It's been a while.
She couldn't stop thinking about him.
It had started when she watched him leave, looking so dejected and so forlorn that her hand had stretched out to his retreating back on sheer instinct, and she found herself clutching it back to her chest in response. There had been something about him – something about the boy called Hyoudou Issei that had sung to her, that had rung some form of bells in her head, yet, try as she might she couldn't place it.
She had returned back into her house, climbed unto her bed and closed her eyes, turning and twisting and shuffling in the sheets in frustration as chocolate eyes and hair appeared in her peripheral vision and made her chest burn as though she had eaten too much spicy food. In the end, she decided to get back to work, back to business, as surely, the only thing that would put him out of her mind was doing the Lord's good work, right?
She did her best to put on her firmest game face, staring at herself in the mirror and slapping her cheeks.
"Alright Irina – you can do this! You can do this! The Lord be willing, you can do this!"
Of course, she was missing her Excalibur – Excalibur Mimic.
It didn't matter! She didn't need the epic sword of legend to slay demons in the Lord's name. She was Irina Shidou – she was awesome enough without it.
"Alright Irina – no mulling about your maybe-ruined innocence or your maybe-lost chance at normality! The Lord has a will! Where the Lord's will is, there will be a way!"
Meeting with Issei had forced her to confront some of the darker fears swirling inside her heart. So what if she couldn't ever have any relationship with 'normal' people? She would just have to find an awesome Exorcist like her to marry! So what if she'd killed devils, men and women? Soldiers and cops often killed people too, and their loved ones didn't treat them any different for it.
It wasn't like she was going to live this life of slaying evil until she aged and became unattractive and then was forgotten and never found true love and then died an old miserable lady with nothing but her seventy-seven cats to keep her company…
That could never happen! Right?
She dove into her room and slammed her face back into her pillow.
"I need to start working on cat names…"
But – it wasn't like she couldn't eventually find love and settle right? She was attractive enough wasn't she?
Also, she was sure she'd make a very badass cat-lady – with her martial arts skills, maybe she'd adopt a few daughters, spin some story about being a super-cool and sexy secret agent in her youth, and have her own Charlie's Angel's-style daughters organization.
Yeah! She was certain she'd be badass as an old woman. Like those wise and elegant old female Kung-Fu masters in the movies.
No one ever asked them about their possible love lives!
…Why exactly did she care about all of this again?
Brown hair and sad eyes flickered in her vision and she winced. Oh. That was why. She wasn't stupid – a little bit slightly airy at times, but not stupid. She saw the way he looked at her. Then there was the fact that he had travelled halfway across the world just to meet her, someone he hadn't seen in years.
Irina shook her head as she rose from her bed. Well, maybe she could do something to change that? To… rectify it? She had gone and said that it was for the best… and he was a civilian, someone who really should not mess with people that had stakes in the supernatural without good reason –
But would it hurt just to get his number?
Would it hurt to collect his e-mail address?
Would it be wrong to let him know that his entire trip wasn't in vain?
Or would that be leading him on?
"Gah!" she furiously ran her hands through her hair as the thoughts and contradictions flooded her mind.
She smashed her teeth together and resisted the urge to sigh or pout. Just one random visit from a boy that was supposed to be a childhood friend had completely messed with her head to the point that she couldn't even think straight.
She would happily face a rampaging ghost of a serial killer over the burning heat in her chest.
To that effort, Irina Shidou decided to do what Irina Shidou did best. Putting on her best game face, she equipped her sleek black exorcist body-suit, but she made sure to put on a more obscuring robe over the attire as she began the hunt for her target.
She was an agent of light. That meant removing darkness wherever it was found, be it in the streets, stalking the nights, or be it in the hearts and minds of men and women.
And of eerily attractive maybe-but-not chocolate eyed childhood friends.
Arthur Pendragon knew not whether he should consider it luck, or a matter of mere palpability that one of the Excalibur Fragments would eventually be found in the home of the Royal Family itself. Entry was ne'er a problem, between his sister's firm grasp of magic, and his possession of Excalibur Transparency and Excalibur Nightmare, he trotted into the event as though he was merely another fanciful teen guest there for the soiree.
However unfortunate, every great plan came with some unexpected turmoil.
The unawakened Red Dragon Emperor was present at the event.
Le Fay had insisted on being the one to confront him, and his eyebrow rose slightly at the sentiment.
"Hyoudou Issei is not a man to be easily underestimated sister."
"I believe you don't give me much credit ni-sama."
That was her problem, he noted. Le Fay was eager to prove herself. Eager to please. Too eager. He was certain that if he asked her to jump, she would leap her foot of the ground and defy gravity to stay suspended until he mentioned that she could land.
"I have told you before. You do not have anything to prove to me sister,"
She pouted at him. "You say that now, but you don't believe I can handle a simple civilian?"
Arthur's gaze flickered over to the unassuming form of the boy who was currently on a call. He looked ordinary, mediocre, so easy to approach, someone who was not at all a worry or a threat. Yet, no matter how he stared at the seemingly plain human boy –
Arthur was wary.
There was a shiver that ran through his spine on observing the boy. An instinct, born and bred from either battle or common sense which screamed to him that the boy was dangerous, that his entire form was dangerous, and the alarm bells rung heavily in his mind that it would be wise to steer clear from him.
It was as though the boy's very soul was a weapon of mass destruction. That it was a bomb primed and ready, and unleashing it upon the world, unleashing the fiery destruction would bring about an apocalypse from which not even death could escape.
"Just be sure to be cautious around him – his unassuming nature – it is not… normal."
His sister had given him a strange look, one which he returned with a weak smile and an even weaker shrug.
"I have a sense about these things."
"I'll be fine ni-sama. You worry too much."
He watched as his sister depart, the odd feeling about that boy still resonating strangely within him, before he shrugged it off. For now, he was more focused on finding the Excalibur Fragment located in the palace. He would trust in his sister, because he knew that she was perfectly capable of –
"IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME!"
Arthur could not help the palm that had slowly moved up to cover his face.
"I AM SORRY! I CANNOT ACCEPT YOUR DECLARATION OF LOVE!"
He tried his best not to laugh or smile, he really did, but he couldn't help it, the madness of the action as Hyoudou Issei stormed out of the scene, very well creating what had looked and sounded like a public rejection. She had silently and cautiously walked back to him, now wary of the numerous eyes on her form.
"Should I chase after the man who broke my sister's heart?"
She gave him a glare, and he brought his hands up peacefully. Oh, dear, perhaps it was the wrong time to make a joke? He never could get the nuances of comedy down.
"I take it you've erased the scene then?"
Of course she had. Arthur let himself smile as he noticed that the guests seemed to be moving in a slight haze, all of them under the effects of the spell that could remove memories.
"I'm going after him."
Arthur's eyes widened – "Le Fay, I think it would be best if –"
Too late. She was gone. Apparition was her method of exit, and the young heir of King Arthur let out a muffled sigh underneath his breath. Would it be pertinent of him to chase after his sister and ensure her safety?
No. She was eager to prove herself to him, to prove that she was not a liability, and no matter what he said to assure her that it was not the case, she did not believe it. Chasing after her would only send the message further that he did not trust her judgment, and he did not believe her capable.
Instead, Arthur merely moved along the crowd, his goal of finding the Excalibur at the forefront of his mind. It would be best to complete the task he had set out to do, and trust that Le Fay would be able to complete hers.
He snorted at the security measures put in place, with mere men in guns thinking that they provided some sort of actual protection against the Royal Family. Should he choose to, he could, in that moment, completely end the Royal Bloodline with no one ever being the wiser. Even the few guards he spotted that were clearly guards of one sort or another from the Orthodox Churches would hold ne'er a threat to him.
However, needless bloodshed was neither his goal nor his purpose. No. He would gain the swords first, and then afterwards, would the change begin.
He stalked down the corridors, Excalibur Transparency being his tool of choice in remaining invisible, as the rest of his senses drew him closer to the direction of where the second-to-last Excalibur he required was. Strange, Arthur noted, when he could feel the power of the Holy Sword coming from a direction that was away from the party, away from the noise and chatter, and slightly more extravagant and secluded.
Her Majesty's private quarters?
For what possible reason would the sword be in the room of the Queen herself?
Still, Arthur paid this no heed, as he began to approach the room. However, he stopped, slightly, upon hearing the sound of… singing?
"Hoppu, Suteppu, Jyanpu – Doruu Doroo Doroun, Chippu Shiroppu Hoiipu – ippaiarumon!"
He stopped. The last male heir to Arthur Pendragon stopped cold, and placed his pinky finger into his ear to ensure he was hearing correctly. To ensure, with all certainty, that he was, indeed, hearing Japanese music coming from the Queen of England's private quarters.
"Hoppu, Suteppu, Jyanpu – Doruu Doroo Doroun, Chippu Shiroppu Hoiipu – Naritai atashi!"
Tentatively, Arthur whipped out Excalibur Transparency, the sword's power covering his form as he knocked the two guards in black suits out cold with swift, blunt strikes of the pommel. Then, and only then, did he dare open the door.
What in all the bloody hell?
There was a large screen Television, clearly displaying what could only have been a Japanese animation, of a magical girl of all things – and the Queen seemed to be watching it?
"Oh! Looks like we've got a guest Betty!"
Arthur's eyes strayed over to the sound of the voice, only to freeze solid at the sight of the attractive girl in a short pink skirt and revealing top, twirling around a heart-shaped wand.
"Huh? Why're you invisible?"
This had not been in his calculations.
The Queen of England watches magical girl anime with the Satan Leviathan.
This had been in no one's calculations.
Issei hated easy mode.
He felt it was patronizing. Insulting. A mockery of the very heart and soul and concept of gaming. It was the developers' way of saying: 'hey pal, we know you are not capable of handling this method of entertainment at the standard level designed, so let's make things easier for you to enjoy'. It was a genuine travesty, created for all those so-called casual gamers who merely wanted to enjoy a good story without working hard to do so.
No, when Issei played anything, everything, he played it with the difficulty set on insane. Perhaps, often times, he set the difficulty to higher than insane. There was no point in doing it otherwise, no challenge in feeling satisfaction and accomplishment in beating it at anything lower. It would be like finding accomplishment in putting a square peg into a square hole before a kindergartner could do it.
Unfortunately for Issei, his life was constantly set on easy mode, and he had to manually re-adjust it all the time. Even then, his manual re-adjustments did not quite particularly reach the level of insane difficulty – or at least, his parents wouldn't let him do it.
"No Issei-kun, you cannot make yourself blind for the entire month."
"What was that squirt? You want to cut off your arms for a week? Who do you think'll fetch the remote if you don't have arms? Request declined."
"You want to make yourself go deaf? I won't give you another excuse to avoid coming upstairs for dinner Issei-kun."
"Yeah… so an experiment to remove your legs? So, what, I'm the one supposed to go get groceries when you can't walk? Nice try kiddo."
"Young man, transform back from that Magikarp right this instant!"
In hindsight, maybe that last one had been overkill.
Regardless, it wasn't that Issei was an adrenaline junkie, nor was he someone who gained massive amount of thrills from doing ludicrous and absolutely insane feats, it was rather, that if he did not place some form of extra-ordinary limit on himself… everything became… too easy. His life was the equivalent of waking up in the starting town in a Pokémon game with a Level 100 shiny Arceus, and proceeding through the first route, brutally slaughtering his way through the hapless Level 1-4 Pokémon in the tall grass, and then proceeding to the Gyms, were he would very kindly ask the Gym Leaders to bend the fuck over, so they could be screwed in the ass.
No amount of logic would be able to convince him that this was a good thing. Significant amounts of common sense and logic would tell him, that the lack of a challenge should be a good thing, and that deliberately attempting to make things get harder was a horrendous idea.
Then again, humans were not meant to be logical creatures.
They did not evolve to be able to realize the benefits of logical reasoning and how it would make their lives easier. If anything, it was quite the opposite. Humans tended to rely more on emotions and irrationality to make key decisions, and seeing as how several hundreds of thousands of years of evolution had passed with this key nature, it only made sense that it was to be the norm.
"What are you doi – where are we goi –."
Issei was pretty sure that if the average Fred and Barney of the cavemen times were to hear rustling of tree leaves in the dark, their first instinct would be to flee from any possible predators that could be lying in wait. Though the more rational explanation would easily be that the wind was what caused the rustling, they were not going to risk their survival and their lives on what was supposed to be rational.
"Woman, I dare you to throw up on me one more time –"
In that sense, it was not so surprising that the average twenty-first century man would find themselves also abandoning logic in exchange for one other value or another. Most of the time, Issei found that the one time people tended to abandon common sense was when it came to issues regarding women.
He stood, now discarding his hoodie in favor of a simple grey singlet which, in the cold and frigid night of beautiful London, was a feat that most people would consider absolutely insane. His gaze flickered slightly to the right, to his vomit stained hoodie, which he had used as a makeshift rag to completely clean up his face, his right eye twitching in annoyance at the now ruined artifact of clothing.
"I actually liked that hoodie damn it."
There was the sound of someone forcing down bile. "Aren't you a billionaire?"
This sound of course, happened to accompany the weight on his back, which, given the respective night cold, had chosen to voice its opinions.
"So billionaires can't have favorite clothes? Someone failed to give me the memo."
Truly, Issei marveled at the spectacular situation he found himself in. Of course, despite possessing knowledge and conducting numerous studies on gender stereotypes which found that both men and women considered it incredibly hard to not treat women with the same equal disregard for life and wellbeing as their male counterparts – here he was, acting exactly like the cliché chivalrous bastard.
Le Fay was on his back, her face alternating between green and purple, courtesy of his kiss of sickness.
"So, here I am. Billionaire child prodigy, legging it back to civilization with a sick witch on my back because I'm too much of a nice guy to let her freeze to death in the middle of an abandoned freighter yard after she attempted to kill me."
Ah, Chomsky was right about humans and the ability for them to create completely novel sentences with language. Issei was sure that was an utterance that had never quite seen the light of day before.
"I could call for a helicopter or something, but unfortunately, my stolen iPhone fell and shattered courtesy of a teleporting Shoryuken by the witch, who happens to be a long lined descendant of King Arthur."
He sighed. He hated sighing. Such an annoying action. It mostly possessed negative connotations and implications – you never heard someone sigh when they were happy. Well, not counting the sensual ones anyway. Or the satisfied ones. But was satisfaction truly a happy feat?
Oh wait, his mind was straying again.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd believe my life story was scripted by attention-deficit toddlers trying to become the next Tolkien."
There was something that sounded like a blend between a snort and chortle.
"Ah, finally, a reaction!" he said, "And here I thought the lucky passenger on my back like an infant carried by an African mother had somehow lost her vocal chords."
Again, silence was his companion. Well, wasn't that just nifty?
Then again, he did kind of make her sick and then threaten her with suffering and pain if she ever tried to kill him again. It did kind of make sense as to why she'd be rather clipped. Well, aside from her mouth probably tasting incredibly bitter and the horrific breath – he was certain that most of the more possible serious side-effects had passed. So, the only reason she didn't talk to him, was because she didn't want to.
So, he paused.
Cold, chilled breeze.
He took in a deep breath.
Ah, there it was.
"Why haven't you attacked me yet?"
Silence metamorphosed into greater silence.
There was no hiding the surprise in her voice, not that she could have hidden it from him at this point. With her on his back, he could feel her every heartbeat, discern every sharp intake of breath and every slow exhale, every unconscious twitch of the finger, curling of the fists, and gesture of movement that would give away much more than she intended.
"Why. Haven't. You. Attacked. Me. Yet?"
He repeated the question.
"Clearly your… 'Magic' is not limited by things such as physical sickness or illness. I'm certain you've been contemplating different spells to purge your systems of my poison, but in that same time, you could have cast a stunning 'spell' on my back and teleported me away to a safe house before I was ever the wiser. In fact, there are over a thousand different ways I could think of for you to incapacitate me for my foolish deed of helping you after the initial murder attempt."
"But you haven't." Issei continued, unperturbed. "Either my initial threat was far more effective than I thought, you are biding your time for something, or, for one reason or another, you feel it would not be to your best benefit to attack me."
There was a mumble, which Issei caught.
"Well, you are helping me out –"
"Not for altruistic reasons." The scientist said blandly.
"I said I'm not helping you for altruistic reasons."
"Then why are you helping me?"
A shrug. "Because you are an attractive girl, and I am unfortunately a teenage boy powered by testosterone."
"Yes." Issei said. "If you were unattractive, unworthy of sympathy, or a guy, I would have most likely left you to die in a pool of your own vomit."
Issei whirled his fingers. "Hooray for winning the genetic lottery."
"So," Le Fay said, "You are only helping me because you think I'm… hot?"
"I'm torn between being surprised at the fact that you can use that word correctly, and giving a sarcastic retort about whether you require subtitles."
"That's… kind of shallow of you, Hyoudou-sensei."
Ah, she'd reverted back to last name and title basis. That counted as progress. Did it? Probably.
"Well pardon me, next time I will attempt to be less superficial when determining the fates of my would-be assassins."
"You just admitted that the only reason I'm still alive is because you think I am attractive."
"Actually, you're also alive because I feel you're worthy of my sympathy."
Well, that might have been the wrong thing to say.
The respective weight that had been on his back vanished, and the loss of weight was accompanied with a sharp push that nearly sent him sprawling to the floor, had he not regained his sense of balance, and come to a skidding halt.
Le Fay was staring at him now, snarling, her brows were contorted, her nose was scrunched up in a manner that allowed Issei to take note of every single fold and furrow, and her pose was instantly morphed into one that was ready for combat.
"Really? Do you seriously want to do this again?"
"Worthy of your sympathy?" she snarled.
"Sure it sounds a bit condescending –"
And the sparks began to fly.
Literally too. Wasn't she supposed to require a wand to start sending those multi-colored beams of light at him? Then again, she hadn't required one to perform any of the deeds so far.
"You know," Issei said, dodging a rather nasty looking red beam "How is it –" he swirled around a blue beam "That your attacks aren't," he dodged an orange and yellow one "moving faster?"
And judging by the way the beams increased in fury, she most likely assumed that he was insulting her again. Sigh, all he was trying to point out was the fact that magic 'spells' should theoretically have no mass, unless the beams were somehow solid, and hence, objects with no mass whatsoever should theoretically be capable at travelling at sub-light speeds. Yet, the spells moved with the same speed as an athletic teenager tossing a baseball. Good, but nowhere near as fast as they should.
Wait, was he seriously analyzing the physics of his opponent's magic whilst she was trying to possibly wound or incapacitate him, again?
"Alright! Time out! Time out!" She was about to send another beam at him again. "If you shoot me one more time, I'll assume lethal intent and you will not find the outcome favorable."
Thankfully, the memory of the threat he'd given her was enough to make her hesitate.
"As I made it clear when we first met, I don't lie." He said blandly, "Whether or not you accept this fact is entirely irrelevant to me, and as such, I told you the blatant truth. You are worthy of my sympathy – because it is clear for all intents and purposes that you have not particularly been living the 'Barbie girl in a Barbie world' lifestyle."
She rose an eyebrow at him, and he resisted the urge to palm his face. "Do you seriously want me to elaborate?"
Of course she did. She didn't see what he saw, she couldn't come to the same conclusions and deductions, and unlike his parents, she was not capable of understanding what he meant with the barest minimum of linguistic information given.
"You're an orphan."
"…Yes." She admitted, albeit begrudgingly. "So… you feel I'm worthy of your sympathy just because I don't have parents?"
"Yes." Wasn't that obvious? "Without a suitable parental figure in your life to knock some sense into you – you go around seducing scientists and following your older brother like a tiny yellow minion, trying to complete some deluded plan for world domination."
"It's not deluded!"
"Ah, so you do have a plan for world domination."
The girl seemed to immediately realize her slip, and she clammed up.
"Look, by virtue of it being a plan for world domination, it is deluded." Issei explained slowly. "It is more likely, and more statistically feasible that you or your brother are blindsided by an unforeseen circumstance which was not in your masterplan that ultimately leads to your failure, than it is for any ridiculous plan you've cooked up to succeed." He paused. "Actually, it is also far more likely for you to win the lottery, be invited to a threesome with Chris Hemsworth and Joe Jonas, and then be struck to death by lightning in that same day, than it is for you to take over the world. This isn't a contrived Hollywood movie where people capable of stopping you will sit back quietly and watch you conquer the world without raising a finger."
She frowned at him. "You don't even know what the plan is."
"Does it involve an artefact of massive power, capable of either rewriting, altering or destroying all of reality?"
"Do you require the need to gather materials, items, or smaller parts necessary to power or activate this artefact?"
"Does this plan ultimately end in a supposed achievement of godhood and superiority, attaining some deep seated dream and life goal from your childhood which you always wanted to come to fruition?"
"…No." she said weakly.
Issei rolled his eyes. "You're a horrible liar." He shook his head. "This particularly is why I say you're deserving of my sympathy. You somehow, someway, truly believe you can take over the world. I mean… come on!"
"You wouldn't understand!" she snapped, "You already have it all don't you? Money – looks – brains – everything falls into your lap with ease. And if it didn't – you wouldn't mind. You wouldn't mind because no one has any great expectations of you. No one told you day after day about how you are a descendant of a Great King, and how you have to change the world. How you have to do your bloodline proud or forever be considered as a failure – considered unworthy to the blood of greatness flowing in your veins."
Issei stepped backwards, his eyes shooting up.
"Do you know what it's like to be compared to an ancestor you've never met? To have your every single accomplishment belittled because a man or woman who died centuries ago could do it with ease? To be reminded of them by your very name?" She growled. "Even worse – do you know how much of red target it paints on your back? Do you have any idea how many people try to hunt us down for sport, merely for being related to King Arthur? Monsters seeking vengeance, rogue magicians believing our blood would have great alchemical purposes, devils wanting us to enter their peerage as a shiny token, hunting us, all because we were born. Do you have any idea what it's like?"
Issei swallowed. He couldn't say he did. The assassins and hitmen that came after him were hired by high-ranking corporations who felt his technology could ruin their business – so he was hunted for things that he did. As a consequence of his actions.
But for people to attempt to kill him, to treat him differently, for the rest of his life, not because of things he did, but because of an ancestor he'd never known – as a result of the very nature of his birth, which was something he had no control over –
It was horrifying.
Le Fay let out a tired sigh, running her hand through her hair and over her face. "We want to take over the world. I know it sounds unbelievable – I know it's over-the-top – I know no one will ever take us seriously – but what choice do we have? People – people just won't leave us alone as long as we bear the name 'Pendragon'. No matter what we do – we're condemned to a life of trying to live up to that name or die trying."
She looked up to him, a small smile on her face. "But, if we conquer most of the known world – if we accomplish something so impossible, then, people won't look at us and think 'They are related to King Arthur.' Instead, people will look at us and think 'King Arthur was related to them.'"
A change in reference points. Something so seemingly minor, Issei realized, could be the very essence and core of a human being. How many people, Issei wondered, where this dismayed by the circumstances of their birth? How many sons of Sultans and Princes of Kingdoms knew at the back of their minds that they would forever be held to a standard of absolutes? How many children of celebrities were tired of a life concealed in the shadow of another being?
What was he supposed to say at the moment? Hollow, empty comforting words? Perhaps a statistical data analysis of such individuals in order to convince her that she was not alone? Except, would such have the needed effect? Would they be the words she wanted to hear? What did she want to hear? Reaffirmation? Sympathy? Or did she merely wished to be understood?
Issei's mind rattled and danced back and forth, his body moving unsurely following his mind's erratic thoughts. He didn't know what to say. He wasn't a man who could immediately find the most comforting words in any situation. He wasn't a person equipped to handle such deeply sensitive issues with tact and delicateness.
The colder part of his mind told him that Le Fay's reasoning was flawed in so many ways. The world was an unfair place, and while it was true that being born as a descendant of a famous hero-king was more disadvantageous than most, it was still a far better existence than those born with life-threatening diseases. Those born with neither hands nor legs. Those born with cognitive and/or physiological defects and impairments. Those born to abusive parents and households, forced to endure horrific, dehumanizing fates in quiet silence. Those whose tears and sorrows were known only to their pillows and darkness.
Except, it would be unfair to claim so. Claiming that one should not grieve over their own sorrows in life because others had it worse, was to equivocally claim that one should not celebrate their joys in life, because others had it better. Such thinking was nonsensical.
He was thinking too much. This had been happening ever since coming to London – all of this could have been avoided if he'd just stayed home. First, it was Irina, now, it was Le Fay – people making him question things he'd rather be ignoring. Making him feel conflicting sentiments he'd rather not experience.
Issei sighed. Damn he hated sighing.
"I can't say I understand," Issei began, running his hand through his hair "I can't say I can relate. I can't say I approve either. Your plan has too many flaws, your likelihood of success is impossibly low – the odds are, you're setting yourself up for grand failure – a tragedy of Athenian proportions. It's more likely you'll fail or die than accomplish your goal. Not to mention the caveat of it is how selfish it all is – you're willing to kill innocent bystanders just to live a life where you're not compared to a dead person."
He shook his head.
"And what of any possible children you'll have? How will they deal with the shadow you will cast over them? Over their lives? How will your descendants deal with it? Or will you be fine with subjecting your own lineage to the same problems you now face?"
Le Fay's face went ashen, and Issei pressed on.
"And if you don't have children, then what's the point? You conquered the world, just to surpass the legend of your ancestor… and then what? What next? What then when the name Le Fay Pendragon is held up higher than that of the Hero of Camelot? You think you'll find peace? You think you'll be able to rest, satisfied and basking in your glory and success? No. No – you'll instead live a life filled with opposition, with enemies and usurpers and challengers at every turn and every corner. There will be nothing but battle, blood and warfare left for the remaining of your days. Is that the life you want?"
"I – I – I –" Le Fay said feebly.
"No. No you don't." Issei answered for her. "You don't want to kill innocent people. You don't want to be a ruthless monarch or dictator. You don't want to fight – you don't want to kill. Le Fay – all you want is to be accepted. You want to be seen as your own person. You want someone to recognize you for you and no-one else."
Issei's eyes locked unto her, a softness entering them.
"You don't really want to conquer the world, you just want to be able to be yourself inside it."
The genius allowed a glimmer of a smile to grace his lips. "And to do that – you don't need a grand plan for world domination. You don't need to conquer the world – all you need – are people."
"P... people?" she repeated.
"People who couldn't care less if you were related to King Arthur of Camelot, or Gilgamesh of Sumeria." Issei said bluntly. "Preferably, people who want to associate with you, because you're you."
Issei genuinely could not comprehend what was more depressing. The realization that Le Fay never had anyone like that to begin with, which spoke volumes of the type of childhood she experienced, or the fact that she had determined herself that world domination was the solution to a relatively, slightly-simple issue.
But, then again, the girl was most likely homeschooled. This meant that she would have had very little to absolutely no interaction with her peers her own age. Then, to acerbate the issue, she was sheltered, hence, doubling the lack of access to something as simple as basic human interaction with people her own age. She would have been focusing most of her time on training and magical studies, therefore leading to even more seclusion. By the time she was thirteen, she would have gone her whole life without ever interacting with someone 'normal' who was her own age.
Additionally, she could not have any friends her own age, because they were not… 'magical' apparently. If it was truly as she said, and devils and monsters flocked to her because of her name, it would be dangerous for any friends she kept, as they would most likely be used as hostages to draw or lull her out. Alternatively, they would never have been allowed to come close to her in the first place, because they did not have any supernatural connection.
It reminded Issei of a thesis paper he once wrote on the psycho-analysis of Rapunzel from Tangled. Logically speaking, a girl locked up in a tower all her life, having grown with neither human interaction nor the learned/acquired knowledge of the outside world, should have, realistically, been killed the second she came into contact with the medieval society of the world she inhabited. Or at the very least, she should have developed massive dependency issues on the one woman she interacted with for years.
Humans were social creatures for a very good reason – you couldn't lock someone up in a room for years and bring them out and expect them to function normally in society. There would be communication problems, social awkwardness, lack of ability to understand contextual clues, developed slangs and jargons, and Personality Disorders would most certainly appear.
It was the equivalent of putting a man in solitary confinement for eighteen years, with only the jailer visiting him – and then expecting the man to leave with nothing but a smile on his face, and an eager desire to explore the world he'd been missing.
The cold night winds of London made Issei shudder slightly, rubbing his shoulders before turning his attention back to his sole night-time companion, remembering the technique she had used to bring them to this place.
"You like Harry Potter don't you?"
The girl looked up, her face immediately beaming. "Y-yes?"
"Have you ever been to a Harry Potter convention before?"
She blinked. "No."
Issei nodded. "Now, imagine going to one. Go to one, and then turn around and talk to a random stranger, greet them, tell them your name is Le Fay Pendragon. How do you think they'll react?"
"I – I don't know?"
"They'll think you're lying, and call you on your bullshit." Issei said dryly. "Or, they'll think you're into roleplay."
Le Fay snickered. "Really?"
"If you tell them you're Arthur's descendant, they'll think you're really into roleplay." He added. "And there – you'll have people interested in you – people who'll probably try to correct you on Arthurian legends with made up versions – and people telling you all sorts of magnificent fan theories about Ravenclaw being the lovechild of Merlin and Helga Hufflepuff."
She balked. "That's not – that can't be possible! In the books, Ravenclaw and Helga were around the same age, and Merlin was a student –"
Issei rose his hands. "And why are you telling me this? There are people out there who need the correction. All you have to do is find them."
Oh, if only his mother could see him now. The irony and hypocrisy of his own statements – considering he'd locked himself up in his lab and swore off human interaction.
"I… I can't believe it." Issei heard her say. "Is it… really that simple? Is that all I really needed? People? I mean… my life – it's still not safe. There are people who'll target me – target my brother because of who we are – we can't run from that."
"No, you can't." He acquiesced. "True, your fate and your life is forever shrouded in threats and danger. People will still want to target you. People will want to try to get to your loved ones in order to get to you. You didn't choose this life – no one chooses to be born or the circumstances that follow their lives after birth. Some people are born in the finest hospitals in the world, and others are born in the back-seat of a taxi in three-mile long traffic. The difference is, you can decide where you go from there."
You could, but only to an extent, Issei thought. Only as far as the circumstances of your birth allowed. For every ten success stories of marvelous rags-to-riches story, there were a thousand untold failures. For every Oprah Winfrey – there were a hundred women who committed suicide or were currently standing on the side of the road with a cigar in hand haggling prices for the cost of a ten minute session.
He didn't say this though. Le Fay didn't need to know that. She didn't need to be discouraged.
Damn his sexist chivalry.
Both teens turned their attention to the sound of a revving engine, their attention eventually spotting what seemed to be a smooth, sleek red Lamborghini racing down the road towards them.
"And my ride's here." Issei spoke up, shuddering at the cold, but allowing a small grin as the vehicle spun around to a fast stop right in front of them, the door immediately swinging open.
"Kiki! You do love me!" Issei declared, grinning happily. "Although you're a little bit late. Thirty three minutes and sixteen seconds? You can't expect me to believe that the nearest fastest land vehicle was over thirty minutes away."
"Issei-sama, may we save the comedic jokes for when we are no longer in the presence of an enemy?" the familiar feminine voice of Kiki spoke up from the car's speakers.
Issei waved off her concern. "Ah – don't worry about it Kiki – I had a long interesting chat with Le Fay. We're all good now."
"I am not referring to her, Issei-sama. I am referring to him."
It was rare for Issei to see what was essentially ripples in time and space appear, occurring in front of his eyes like an optical illusion, or like special effects. Yet, it occurred, in that exact moment, as time and space seemed to whimper, and what could only be described as a ripple in reality tore open, and from within it – a blonde man emerged.
Immaculate. That was the word that Issei would use to describe the young man in front of him. With sharp eyes and striking features, a suit so finely pressed and elegantly worn, with hair a shade darker than that of his sister's and a sharp, penetrating gaze hidden behind a pair of spectacles.
"Kiki… how did you –"
"We need to leave Issei-sama. We need to leave immediately. All my sensors are overloading and detecting immense numbers of mathematically incalculable anomalies coming from that man."
"Le Fay – we need to leave the ci –." The young man stopped, now paying attention to the disheveled, tired and sick looking appearance of Le Fay Pendragon, before his gaze shot up, locking onto Issei.
"What did you do to my sister?"
It was like all the pressure of the world came crashing down on his shoulders at that moment. He became Atlas, tasked not with holding the skies, but with the entirety of the Milky Way galaxy. Issei dropped to his knees, almost feeling his eyes pop out from his skull, and feeling his head nearly slam to the ground from the magnified sensation of weight and gravity.
What… what is this feeling?
Before him, a man was no longer standing. Instead, Issei could only raise his head enough to see the darkdarkdarkdark form of a shadowed wraith – some form of beast – it completely covered the man's form and made his eyes glow with the eerie sensation freshly cooled corpses. Faster than the scientist's eyes could track, there was a sword in the man's hand – a blade that felt intrinsically wrong – a blade that seemed to have reality itself screeching as it seemed to obey it's every command and instruction –
"Excalibur Ruler – DESTR –"
A bead of sweat fell from Issei's brow. His heart pounded harder and harder, he could see his breath come out in front of him in the form of misty, heated gasps. He was made acutely aware of all the blood rushing in his system at that moment – and yet – he still found himself paralyzed, unable to move an inch.
Kiki attempted to swoop him to his safety – a failed attempt – the monster of a man, he swung his blade – and the Lamborghini was sliced into eight identical pieces. Issei only saw the blade swung once – he knew not how a blade swung one time could do that – he didn't know how a man that was supposedly a mere human could slice apart a car with a sword so effortlessly –
This was considered weaker than the legends of King Arthur? What sort of monster was Arthur of Camelot?
What sort of monsters are in this world?
"We – we don't need to kill him Ni-sama. We just… we…" Le Fay turned to him, her lips pursed as she bit on them. "Let's… just… take his Sacred Gear. We don't need to kill him… pointlessly."
Issei's head shot up, his chest burned as he stared at her, his ears unable to believe what he was hearing.
"…We don't have much time. I expect you to explain everything to me when we arrive, sister."
The man waved his sword, and Issei felt his body growing progressively weaker, almost as though he was being commanded to lose consciousness, commanded to allow his muscles relax and his brain halt the production of adrenaline.
Inwardly, with his wavering strength, he felt irritated. He felt annoyed. He felt… he felt enraged.
Had nothing he said gotten into the girl's head? Had she not realized how this path would end?
DIDN'T SHE LISTEN TO A SINGLE THING HE SAID?
"Le Fay… you… why…"
The girl's gaze turned away from him, even as his vision slowly blackened.
Of course. He almost chuckled. It made sense to him in hindsight. You couldn't just talk to someone and then watch as they changed their deepest thoughts and formed biases in an immediate, mind-blowing revelation. No matter how well thought out your argument was, no matter how many solid points you made – people tended to do what they wanted, what they felt.
To think he believed that he had gotten through to her… who the hell did he think he was? Naruto Uzumaki? He didn't have Talk no Jutsu on his side. Things never worked that simply in real life.
God damn it… he was stupid… so… stupid… stupid chivalry… stupid for not killing Le Fay… stupid for being swayed by her looks… stupid for thinking he could reach her with words… And now… now…
"Kiki… enable… last stand… protocol…"
Now… he would have to kill two people.