Disclaimer: Highschool DxD is not mine, nor will it ever be (unfortunately for me, fortunately for everybody else probably).
If you feel I have bastardized your favorite franchise or something of the sort, you are free to tell me so. I am, however, also free to ignore flames, and focus instead on criticism (be it positive or negative).
Onwards, to the story!
"N-no, stop, please!"
The innocent blonde's distressed cries as her clothes were ripped appart caused brought a deep sense of despair into Issei.
His heart clenched tightly as he watched a girl that he had dedicated much effort and time to at the mercy of a bunch of brutes who had ambushed the two of them outside of school, beaten the crap out of him, and were now lecherously letting their gaze flow all over the girl.
Issei felt further crushed when he saw the girl's tears as a hand went below her skirt, reaching into her panties and touching her...
"God fucking damn it!"
Hyoudou Issei could only curse up a blue streak that would make a sailor blush as he watched his playthrough through his latest erog-Visual Novel, result in another BAD END.
Motohama, the famed "Three Size Scouter" of Maheroshi Junior High adjusted his glasses as he spoke up, while Matsuda of "Sexual Harassment Paparazzi" fame moaned in disgruntlement.
"I told you, Issei, the Harem route is pretty much impossible to complete, no matter how many times we try. This has to be, what, our 65th try?"
Issei, the last member of Maheroshi Junior High's infamous "Perverted Trio" responded by slamming his face onto his desk, repeatedly, while Matsuda spoke up as well.
"We've got to give this one up as a bad job, bro. All the bad ends we got already aside, there's the matter of the fullfilment of our real life dreams!"
Motohama and Matsuda wrapped an arm over each other's shoulder, massive rivers of tears streaming down their faces as they shouted out in tandem.
"THE EXCLUSIVE , PREVIOUSLY ALL-GIRLS ACADEMY RECENTLY TURNED CO-ED WITH AN ESTIMATED 80% FEMALE TO MALE RATIO, KUOH ACADEMY!"
Rapidly overcoming their burst of emotion and cleaning himself from Matsuda's "man-germs", Motohama spoke up in a serious tone, adjusting his glasses in a manner that caused the glare to hide his eyes.
"This isn't going to be easy, Issei. We swore to ourselves, each other, and on our dreams, that we would manage to make our way past the difficulties of life and into any healthy young man's paradise! We need to dedicate as much time as possible into studying for the admittance test, even if it cuts into each of our alloted 'personal amusement' time. We have no time to waste with an impossible to reach goal!"
"It's not impossible!"
The vehemence in the statement did not at all surprise Matsuda or Motohama, who were both aware of their friend's lifelong dream. The two could only sigh inwardly as Issei continued.
"If there is a harem ending, I shall reach it! I will not sleep, I will not eat, I will not hesitate nor will I give up! My goals! My dreams! My future! They all hang on the possibility of me clearing this!- hey, where the hell are the two of you going?"
The inflamed tone was replaced by a half-bewildered, half-irritated one as Motohama and Matsuda made their way out of Issei's room mid-monologue.
Sighing out loudly, Matsuda was the one to answer.
"Not that I don't want to help you, Issei, I really do, but I also really need to study. I tried for the mock exams and got a flat 30%, and you need to get at least a 75% to be made a viable candidate for Kuoh, and need to beat out 80% of the other test takers in order to get accepted, so I need to start cramming as soon as possible."
Issei's gaze switched over to Motohama, getting only a nod in agreement.
Irritation filling him, Issei huffed before speaking up.
"Fine! Leave! But you'll regret it when you see that I managed to both get the True End in the Harem route, and manage to get into Kuoh!"
His friends didn't bother refuting his claims, waving him goodbye as they made their way out of his home, while Issei sat down in front of his computer and glared at it with a scary level of intensity.
'Of course they just gave up and left! It's not their dream that's on the line! I mean... If I don't manage to get the Harem Ending in some game without looking up a guide, how the hell can I manage to get one in real life!? It'd be like giving up on my dream, turning my back on it, and I refuse to do it!'
His spirit aflame, Issei put himself in the proper mindset to get his good ending.
Hour after hour, day after day went by as Issei tried varying tactics. He tried changing the order in which he took his love interests for dates, the precise moment when he triggered their flags, which presents her gave, which routes he took, however, failure was the only thing that he met... That is, until he decided to change tactics.
Instead of changing the way in which he did ways in-game, he started fiddling with the game settings, trying to find some hidden slider, some secret stat, a novel route, until he eventually found what he was looking for.
His solution was borne out of desperation more than anything else. Regardless of whatever it was he said to his friends, Issei did not intend to go into the testing room without studying. Knowing that he wasn't ever really the sharpest knife in the drawer, Issei decided to give himself at least 2 months worth of study time before the test, and he was already 2 days away from reaching that line.
Feeling that he had nothing else to lose, Issei decided to try for the ultimate challenge.
He erased his previous save, tainted with the failure of a BAD END, and started a new one. However, instead of using his usual settings of "Difficulty-Normal" and "Time-Limitless", he chose to play in "Difficulty-Are you F*cking Kidding Me?" and "Time-Ultra Sprint". As far as he was aware, those settings were added by the developers as a 'Screw You' to any would-be completionists, forever locking out the game's full completion as pretty much even the easiest of routes was supposed to be insanely hard.
Issei was a man with no limits.
Forgoing such useless things as food, water, toilets and sleep, with cumulative years of experience in all things Eroge and Visual Novel, and a healthy amount of prayer and praise to RNGesus, Issei managed to do it.
-TRUE HAREM END UNLOCKED-
He managed to get the happy end that he desired, and all it took him was finishing the game with maxed "Charisma", "Knowledge", "Wealth" and "Martial Prowess" scores, finding the hidden, Legendary-Grade "Marital Arts" skill book, defeating the true final boss "ESREVER RENOB TACS DOG"and absolutely obliterating any and all enemy to ensure that he and his harem were safe.
Having finally gotten what he truly desired from life for that short time frame, Issei decided to finally make his parents aware of the fact that he was alive, his stomach aware of the fact that food existed, and his body aware of the existance of this thing called a 'Bath', but, after taking his first step out of his desk chair, he felt the strength leaving his body, causing him to colapse on the ground.
After that... Is when things got crazy.
While his body had shut down to rest, his mind was still functioning... After a fashion...
Flashes passed through his mind, rapid still-frames of various different moments of his marathon session of 'Legend of the Ero-Hero' passing by as if in a slideshow, with the majority of the images focusing on the his final stats, "100% Charisma", "100% Knowledge", "100% Wealth" and "100% Martial Prowess", interspersed with various shots of his character's dates, the various events he had to perfect run in one go, and the defeated forms of his enemies.
And it was in that moment that Issei had an epiphany.
If he wished to get his vaunted "Harem End" in real life, he couldn't slack off. The game didn't allow him to get it playing in easy mode, or with no time limit. The game did not forgive anything less than full effort.
"Charisma" to attract the women to him, "Knowledge" to learn how to separate the girls that truly love him from those who would try to use him, "Wealth" to ensure safety, stability and a future for his large family later on in life, and "Martial Prowess" to defend himself and all of them from malicious people, attacking them either out of spite, or jealousy.
Friends were to be protected, enemies to be put deep into the dirt, the hardships of life to be met with an iron resolve, and time constraints to be observed and taken into consideration.
It was either the life of a Harem... Or no life at all.
Returning to consciousness a few hours later, Issei's first action... was to gag, as his head was curled into his armpit; at an uncomfortable angle, even.
His second action was to climb back to his feet, his head shaking as he tried to decipher the myriad of blurry images that he felt had engraved themselves into the inside of his eyelids. He didn't have any idea what any of them meant, but he did know something.
He wanted to excel beyond all expectation.
He didn't know where the desire... Nay, compulsion came from, and neither could he possibly, as it was the work of his unconscious mind, but he knew that he no longer desired to be a lout, an easily dismissible, below-average perverted monkey. Even if it cut into his time for ero, and even the holiest of the pervert's activities... Peeking... Excelling came above all of this. His whole future depended on it.
But first... He really needed a shower.
Mr. and Mrs. Hyoudou had no idea if what they were seeing was real, or if there was a gas leak in their home and they were currently in heaven, their corpses still cooling on the living room floor.
Their son, Issei, the one they hadn't seen for all of two weeks as he had locked himself in his room to do god-knows-what that made them all but sure that they'd die without ever meeting their grandchildren... Was studying.
He was sitting at the dinner table, his face showing his seriousness and focus as he read through a math worksheet, making various different noises as he compared his results to the ones in the book.
Focused as he was, Issei never noticed his parent's presence as he spoke up in a blank tone.
His parents were ready to faint right there and then, hearing their underachieving, "60% is good enough" son Issei scoring an 80% in what seemed to be a mock exam. However, if they were surprised before, his following words caused their brains to freeze.
"...Not good enough. I can do better. No, I have to do better!"
Mrs. Hyoudou's legs lost their strength, causing her to fall backwards into a chair her husband had placed behind her in anticipation, while Mr. Hyoudou slowly walked up to his son as if he were a dangerous animal, speaking in a calm, soothing tone.
"Issei, is everything okay?"
The youngest Hyoudou blinked in surprise as his parent's presence was finally registered in his brain. Taking a few seconds to interpret the question, Issei finally answered in a semi-absentminded tone.
"Yeah... Yeah, I'm fine. Why? And what's wrong with mom?"
While Mrs. Hyoudou tried to overcome her mental freeze, Mr. Hyoudou spoke up for both of them.
"Mom's just feeling a bit tired, but that's not what's important... Son, are you really feeling okay? You're not sick or anything? No cold, no fever?"
Scratching his cheek with his pencil's erases, Issei answered even as he read back through the chapter the book was open to.
"No, I'm perfectly okay. A bit hungry, but hey, that's the price of success!"
His eyes gaining an intense look, Papa Hyoudou spun Issei's chair around, ignoring his irritated grump, before placing both of his hands onto his son's shoulders, meeting the boy's gaze as he asked.
"Son, who's the girl?"
The only thing missing to display the full level of Issei's confusion were interrogation marks floating over his head.
Ignoring his son's question, Mr. Hyoudou kept speaking.
"I understand perfectly, son. When you meet the right woman... You feel like doing everything possible to impress her. Just... Make sure that in trying to better yourself for her, you do not end up forgetting who you really are!" 'As much as Mom and I prefer this studious you anyday' was left unsaid.
Eyeing his father strangely, Issei collected his study materials, and he spoke as he went away, headed towards his room.
"Dad, I think you should probably rest. I'll just... I'll be studying. In my room. Don't interrupt me, please."
Ignoring everything his son had said, Papa Hyoudou could only give his son a massive thumbs up, even as manly tears streamed down his eyes. Absolutely weirded out by this, Issei ran as fast as he could up to his room.
"Dear... I just had the weirdest dream... Issei was studying. Willingly."
Making his way towards his wife, Mr. Hyoudou knelt down in front of her, taking both of her hands into his own as he spoke to her, his gaze locked on hers.
"It wasn't a dream, Dear. Issei really was studying."
Her eyes widening in bewilderment, she could only move her lips, producing mostly inarticulate sounds, with the occasional semblance of "Wha-" and "Hwa-" coming out. Mr. Hyoudou decided that he needed to explain everything to his wife before she short-circuited right into the mental treatment ward.
"Our Issei is growing up, dear. It seems he finally met a proper girl that made him wish to improve himself, and cast aside his silly, childish dreams!"
Tears welled up in Mama Hyoudou's eyes as the prospect of an eternally useless, perverted son ending up locked up for life for various sexual misconducts was slowly supplanted in her mind for the image of a grown-up Issei next to a featurless shade with an obviously female shape, with two smaller shades in front of them, one of a boy and one of a girl, both almost featurless except for the boy's brown hair, and the girl's brown eyes.
She pulled her husband into a tight hug (Inadvertently re-aligning his aching back and saving him a trip to the chiropractor) before wailing and blubblering loudly, with the occasional "GRANDBABIES!" thrown into the mix for good measure.
Issei, for his part, was completely unaware of what occurred downstairs, focusing only on further increasing his final test results.
~2 Months Later~
Turning over his test sheet, Issei only barely managed to withold a sigh of relief, reminding himself that things were only just starting. Overconfidence in the face of what seemed to be easy victory could mean defeat.
He lost enough times to "Pegga, the Sadistic Femdom Queen" in "Journey to the center of Nishi Aoki" to know that even the weakest boss can absolutely destroy you if you got distracted.
Focusing completely and reading things through, Issei went through the math segment, checking and doublechecking his answers one at a time, before moving over to biology and repeating the feat. He finished that portion, then proceeded to push his way through history, physics and english, which were the requirements to make it into Kuoh.
Even after re-checking his entire test for errors, ensuring that he did not forget to write his name down, and taking care of any smudges with his eraser, Issei managed to finish the test with 15 minutes to spare.
He left the room all smiles, feeling the other boys around him, for the most part, complaining or despairing.
Seeing the very specific curvature of a head shape he knew well enough, Issei made his way to Matsuda, seeing that he was already together with Motohama and talking about something. The two of them didn't seem to be nervous, which probably meant that they had done well in their own tests, but he felt the need to rub his own success in their faces.
"Motohama, Matsuda! Hey!"
The two perked up at hearing the voice of the missing member of their trio, with Motohama adjusting his glasses while his gaze thoroughly analyzed the extremely hot teacher that had overseen their test, while Matsuda turned towards Issei and answered.
"Hey, Issei. Long time no see."
"Yeah, it's been 2 months already."
Having thoroughly catalogued the three sizes and commiting them to his memory, Motohama turned to face issei as well before speaking up.
"Yo, Issei. So, how'd you do in the test? Me and Matsuda were comparing answers, and we think we did pretty well..."
Not bothering to hide the shit-eating smirk that wanted to stretch across his face, Issei entered full smug mode as he spoke.
"I beat that test harder than I beat my meat when I found out Miraichi Shiji starred in a lesbian flick with Asa Aida."
Matsuda let out a long, low whistle at that, before speaking up.
"That was a hot video. Means you're really confident in your test performance, huh?"
"Hell yeah! I studied my ass of to get accepted into Paradise! AND! I managed to do it after getting my harem ending! You know, the one you two said I would never accomplish without a guide?"
Turning towards the utterly incredulous Motohama (Not that Matsuda looked any different), Issei answered while still in smug mode.
"Cross my heart and swear to burn my stash."
The two other perverts inhaled sharply, recognizing the truest sign of honesty they had amongst them.
Others would have sworn on their lives, or their gods, or something of the sort, but the three knew that those could be said without meaning. But dealing with your porn mag stash? Words were not to be said so lightly.
The ero gods did not look kindly upon deceit.
"How'd you do it, bro?"
"Hardest difficulty, strictest time limit, maximum effort, averaging 2 hours of sleep per day."
"Was..." Motohama found himself licking his suddenly dry lips, smacking his tongue to regain some of it's mosture before he finished "Was it worth it?"
"Absolutely. It was one of the most beautiful sights in my entire life."
None of the three males were aware that a gulf had suddenly been created between them and the other test takers, who talked amongst themselves while giving them looks of disgust or anger, all the while failing to properly hide their interest in their conversation.
Absolutely ignoring this as was habit from middle school, the three kept on the flow of their conversation.
"W-what happened? How did it end?"
The memories of the game's epilogue going through his mind, Issei allowed a wistful tone to bleed into his voice as he spoke.
"It was everything I dreamt of, and some more."
Motohama opened his mouth to say something else, but he was interrupted by the ringing of the bell. Blinking distractedly, Issei looked down at his watch, only to curse before he started walking backwards.
Having finished saying that, Issei dashed away from school as if the hounds of hell themselves were snapping at his heels.
~The Hyoudou Residence~
The absolute last thing expected to see when he burst through the living room door was his father wearing a leather pony outfit, complete with a gag and bound legs, while his mother wore a skin-tight leather corset that hid her back and stomach... and nothing more... while holding a riding crop, with a ball mask covering her eyes.
The two parties froze mid-motion, Issei's face absolutely blank, while his parents did their best not to blush, their mortification almost palpable.
Closing his eyes, Issei took a few steps backwards, opened the door again, walked back out of his home and closed the door. Taking deep breaths, Issei counted to ten while his mind dispelled the heat-induced delusion, relegating the image to the deepest, darkest parts of his traumatic memory storage (Other articles tossed into that deep, dark pit of despair and misery were things such as Tubgirl, 2 girls 1 cup, and some things he found out while researching fetishes as a child that he still wasn't absolutely sure were legal) and re-centered himself.
Having successfully supressed the memory, Issei went back into his house - slamming the door harder than necessary in order to make noise - before shouting out loud.
"I'm Home!" A subconscious impulse prompted him to finish with "For the first time since breakfast!"
Making his way into the living room, Issei found his parents sitting primly and porperly at the dinner table, steaming teacups in front of each of them.
With a rather blatantly pasted-on smile on his face, Mr. Hyoudou spoke up.
"Oh hey Issei, how did the test go?"
"I absolutely nailed it." He followed up in his mind with 'And I'll absolutely make my way into paradise!'
Managing a much more convincing smile, Mrs. Hyoudou spoke up.
"That's great, Issei! We're sure you managed to get into the school you wanted!"
The perverted young man crossed his arms and nodded sagely as he spoke.
"Of course I did. Now I'll be in my room, the books won't study themselves you know!"
Unknowing of her son's incredible ability to completely bury traumatic memories, Mrs. Hyoudou decided to try to make up for her child, for doing his absolute best not to embarrass his parents despite the fact that he himself was probably mortified by the situation, maybe even scarred for life.
(Or worse, Kami forbid, he could have asked to join in. She wasn't sure her heart would have handled something like that.)
"Well, Issei, me and papa were talking, and we decided that, depending on the test results, we could send you abroad for a vacation, until at least a week or two from the start of the next school year."
Mrs. Hyoudou absolutely ignored he flabbergasted husband as she watched her son seemingly thinking something through, his focus very intense. Issei then spoke up.
"Can I choose my destination?"
Before Mr. Hyoudou could give any objections about said trip, Mrs. Hyoudou spoke up.
"Of course you can, as long as it is not excessively expensive!"
Issei's instincts told him that he didn't want to touch either of his parents at this moment, though he didn't know why, so he procceeded to go to his room. (While also following the instinct telling him to avoid the rug and the couch, moving closer to the kitchen than anything else).
While he intended to study some more in order to not make a fool of himself in his new school next school year, hearing about the trip made Issei decide to change priorities. He fired up his computer for the first time since he beat the Harem Route, but instead of going into his usual... Adult Entertainment websites, or opening one of his more saucy Visual Novels, Issei decided to do some research.
Opening his search engine, Issei decided to search for everything related to Tourism.
Dozens, maybe even hundreds of websites later, Issei had decided on what to do.
'I'll use the time between now and getting the test results to get better at english, and to learn dutch.'
Those were his primary needs. After all, Issei decided to go to Amsterdam.
On a totally unrelated note, a certain busty brunette suddenly started chuckling creepilly in her usual sadistic manner, the feeling that someone had just been mentally scarred hitting her out of nowhere and surprising her with how refreshing it was. The rest of the peerage around her, who were already used to her mannerisms, did nothing more than ignore it.