To value learning as a gift, you have to accept pain as a teacher. - Jury Nel

Last time, on Jade Ashikabi:

"Harry, I'd like to introduce to you Number 7, Akitsu. Akitsu, this is a friend of mine, Harry."

Harry couldn't help but gawk at the well-endowed woman. How the provided clothes were holding up against her assets could only be attested to magic. Powerful magic at that, as he could practically hear the fabric screaming for help. A quick elbow nudge by the smirking silver-haired man reminded him he was supposed to say something. "Um uh... Hello, uh... Akitsu" he uttered loquaciously, feeling his tongue swell up.

To her credit, she didn't get angry at his open gawking, or laugh at his discomfort. She did, however, blush. "Ah… hello, Harry" she said softly, trying to hide her face. The two just stood there very awkwardly, Takehito failing to hide his amused smirk

.

"I'm guessing the fact you use magic is supposed to be a secret?"

.

"That's not Musubi, Sahashi" he began. Before said boy could respond, he held up a hand. "It's Musubi's body, yes, but the person you see is not her. Please, tell the class who you are." Though being polite, he left no room for argument in his voice, and he saw a quick dilation of her eyes before she responded.

"It certainly took you long enough to ask, Ha- EJ-sama." Harry took a quick glance at everyone to see if they caught the near slip-up. To no one's surprise - well, no one if they'd realized it - Miya was the only one who did, shown by the quick glance his way. "I am the Sekirei of Fate: Number 8, Yume."

.


In the intervening silence, Harry realized that, despite being fluent in Japanese language, he wasn't all that fluent in its idioms. That being said, as a native Englishman, he was quite fluent in English ones, obviously. And the idiom "silence is deafening" was running laps around his head.

Normally, he'd be laughing his ass off at the dumbfounded looks everyone had. Minato, from his position to Musu-Yume's right, was flabbergasted. In their brief interactions, Harry'd learned he was actually quite intelligent. But everyone has those moments where something is simply outside their mental scope of comprehension. Kagari and Uzume had similar expressions of disbelief, both sitting across from the girl, caught between looking as if they'd seen a ghost, and wanting to burn her for heresy. Even Miya was shocked, and not acting shocked as she is wont to do, no. She had opened and closed her mouth several times trying to find words, and was looking between the now-named Yume and Harry, trying to piece together a puzzle that she was missing parts to.

Gabby was the only one not truly bewildered, though she was confused. Harry realized he'd left her more in the dark than he realized, and swore to correct that oversight. But, that would have to wait until he overcame his own numbness, as the woman's admission of her name had his mind on overdrive, as several flashes of what he believed were memories of the woman associated with the name was fighting to come to light, but kept running into a barrier of sorts.

"Bu-bu-but… you died" Kagari managed, the first to find his voice. Gabby's eyebrows raised, and was looking at the brunette in a new level of confusion.

Said woman was shaking her head. "No, Kagari, I did not die. The girl's body I am inhabiting, Musubi, she did die, though. Which is why I used mine to save her."

"No, you died!" Miya screeched, slamming her hands on the table, cracking it. The action startled everyone. Her face was both enraged and tormented, as if she were seeing ghosts and reliving horrific memories. "That explosion killed just about everyone! How Akitsu survived I have no idea! No one does! We found your body unmoving and without a pulse next to Musubi!" She turned that enraged look towards him. "My husband, who YOU swore to protect, was killed in that explosion!" Tears began freely falling, as Harry was hit with another powerful memory.

~~Flashback~~

"Akitsu, get that girl out of her!" Harry was battling fire after fire, the overload slowly building up to catastrophic proportions.

"Ah...but Harry-sama, I must protect you!" the woman cried out, carrying a little girl with long, black hair in her arms.

"Protect her, Akitsu, that's an order! I have to get Takehito out of there!"

"Harry! Please! Don't leave me!" she cried out, setting the girl down before pulling Harry into a bone-crushing hug. To her credit, she left his wand arm free so he could keep fighting the fires.

"I promise I'll come back to you, Akitsu" he told her, leaning into her hug. When she leaned back to look at him, he leaned out and kissed her, showing her baby-blue ice wings. "I promise. I am not going to leave you or Yume, ever. You're my girls."

She nodded and smiled wanly, kissing him again before turning and picking up the little raven-head. With another look at him, meeting his eyes, she sprung out of the facility. He turned back and took off in the direction of Takehito's lab, throwing up a Bubble-head charm as he did.

~~End Flashback~~

"EJ! EJ! Come back to me mon loup, come back." Gabby's voice echoed in his ears as he came to. He quickly realized he had his head in her lap, evidenced as he opened his eyes and saw her looking down at him, her hair dangling and tickling his face.

"I need you to do something for me, Gabs" he said without preamble, as he tried sitting up. He made it about halfway before a bout of vertigo hit and he laid back down. "Make that three somethings, actually. First, I want you to kiss me." Eyes full of worry, she smiled slightly with a shake of her head, then leaned forward and gave him a sweet and tender kiss. "Ahh, I feel better already." She slapped his chest, but was smiling broadly, the worry in her eyes slowly fading. "Second, I like this position, I think I'm gonna stay here awhile." She slapped his chest again with another laugh, but no less wrapped her arms around him possessively.

"And the third?" she asked, caressing him.

"It can wait a bit longer," he stated, shimmying himself as he got more comfortable. "But I'll need you to go back to our hotel and get my communicator." Her actions froze at that, her eyes widening as she looked down at him. He just nodded his head with a defeated look. "It's time I confront them about what they did to me."

"What did you remember, mon amour?"

Sighing deeply, he pulled himself upright and rubbed his head. He took stock of the room, and saw that Musu-Yume had moved to his other side, and was looking no less worried. Minato's face had worry as well, and a slight tinge of jealousy or longing as he looked at Musu-Yume. 'Cause that's going to be a fun conversation' Harry mused, running his fingers through his head. Kagari and Uzume both looked concerned. Uzume looked as if she'd wanted to move over as well, but Gabby and Musu-Yume had blocked her, so had just slid in his direction.

Miya, however, had a rainbow of emotions on her face: from fresh anger directed at him, curiosity, no doubt about what he'd just remembered, some slight worry, as she was still the kind-hearted woman her persona depicted, and… he immediately discarded the last, as frankly it was both impossible and ironic. And he wasn't sure how he felt about it himself.

"Akitsu survived because I ordered her to" Harry began, rubbing his temples. "She was carrying a young girl with long, black hair. I don't yet remember who that girl was, if I ever did, but I believe she was the second girl in the room when I first encountered…" he trailed off, his fingers stilling as he looked up at the brunette. After a moment he cocked his head to one side. "Yume, tell me; who was the brunette girl that nearly died on the operating table when we first met?"

Musu-Yume just closed a fist and held it to her heart as she closed her eyes. "Musubi" was her soft answer. All eyebrows raised in surprise. It was a moment before she opened them again. "Karasuba-san and I were tasked with rescuing her and another, young Sekirei from those who had kidnapped the two of them. When she flatlined, I had intended on sacrificing my soul core to heal her." The Sekirei gathered inhaled deeply at that, bar Miya. "But you used those potions and that damned-by-the-gods spell to revive her. I was so happy I went to thank you." She chuckled lightly and turned a coy smile on him. "Things sort of got out of hand there. I didn't expect to react to you so heavily. Or so powerfully. Once you touched me…" her body visibly shivered in a way both Uzume and Gabby were intimately familiar with. "I couldn't NOT wing myself to you."

He scratched the back of his head. "We didn't actually have sex right there in that room, did we? Covered in blood and guts with bodies everywhere?"

The reactions around the room were quite amusing to the Veela. She'd heard the details about this dream-turned-memory numerous times, so was aware of all the minutia. Kagari and Minato had the most adverse reactions, as she expected: Kagari was definitely the lover-not-a-fighter type. Sure, he'd hold his own when the situation called for it, but never sought out a fight. And Minato was, well, a wimp, in her opinion.

On the flip side, the two women who were not directly involved in the conversation, both reacted similarly: albeit, the elder of the two did her best to hide such a reaction. But Gabby was a Veela, and very, VERY experienced at noticing persons interested in her Harry.

Uzume wasn't even attempting to hide the squirming. While the idea of such activities occurring while covered in blood would likely be a slight aversion, even Gabby couldn't deny the adrenaline after such a battle, coupled with an intense reaction such as her own Veela bond, which she'd come to learn resembled the Sekirei bond, would lead to a very interesting moment.

Miya, though, didn't appear to have any qualms about the blood. Gabby couldn't be sure, but she thought the woman's eyes dilated and momentarily flashed red. It happened so quickly, though, she couldn't be certain. The idea of the composed woman partaking in such a venereal act in an equally macabre setting was a juxtaposition of the ages. 'To be fair, I've known the woman for less than six hours. It is possible I don't actually know anything about her. She just puts on such a persona that the idea is beyond mind boggling.'

She was brought out of her observations and back to the conversation by the brunette's giggling and shaking head. "No, we didn't quite make it all the way just then. Karasuba showed up right after you winged me and knocked you out."

That had Harry leaning back on his hands, looking up at the woman still kneeling. "Really? She did? Funny, she's never mentioned having met me so young."

The three female Sekirei all had varying reactions to that comment, though Gabby and Minato were the only to notice - and suffer - Miya's very prominent demon's mask, that she quickly dispelled after meeting the blonde's gaze. The raven-haired boy just shivered in silence, avoiding his landlady's scariness.

"You know Karasuba-san?" Uzume squeaked out. Harry shrugged.

"We've met a few times, yeah." When she went to press, Harry waved her off. "She was hired to kill me a few times, she failed a few times." Uzume let out a half-squeak half-squawk that had him chuckling lightly. "Another time, alright?" Getting an open-mouthed nod in return, he looked back at Musu-Yume, who hadn't, strangely, been all that surprised, with a questioning look.

"As for why she hasn't mentioned it, she may not have recognized you." As his mouth opened to press, Yume answered anyways. "You likely never realized just how much blood you had on you, EJ-sama. Most of your face was covered in it. And I don't think the two of you interacted again after that, until whenever you first officially met that you do recall. She put a bag over your head as we were transported to Takehito-sama's lab, in case you woke up en route."

Harry was back to rubbing his temples. "Ok, so that explains why my dream - correction, memory - always stops at the same point." He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and looked up at her again, then around the room at the confused looks. He recounted the dream that had been on repeat for several weeks before, and including, his first night in Tokyo. He took care not to be too descriptive, leaving it up to the various listeners to fill in the blanks as they imagined. Right up until the winging of Yume. "You were hugging me so tightly, I swear you broke, or at least bruised, even more of my ribs." She tittered as she nodded.

"I did. You had five broken, four bruised when we got you back."

"There ya go" he chuckled. "After that, well…"

Yume gave a sly smirk before giggling. "After that, you started sending your blood south, and-"

"I was fifteen!" he exclaimed in his defense, drawing a few chuckles. "A beautiful woman, who'd just kicked my ass, was pressing herself against me in a situation it wouldn't be called for. AND I was going through puberty. AND-"

"And that will be enough of the reprehensible details from the both of you." Miya's words got both of their attentions, only to be diverted to the other raven-haired man with an intense nose-bleed. Both looked at each other and laughed, before composing themselves as Harry conjured a cloth for Minato to stifle the stream with.

With a mumbled "dank you, Back-dama" the boy proceeded to dye the cloth red.

It was then that the Lady of the Hold took control of the conversation. "Now that we have learned how you became an Ashikabi, perhaps you can enlighten us on the details of why you were there in the first place?"

Harry let out a deep breath. "Unfortunately, I cannot." Before an objection, he raised his hand. "It is not unwillingness, Miya, but truthfully unable to. I already stated I remembered downloading the data those scientists had. Whether or not I ever got that data to my superiors at the time, I don't yet remember. Nor do I remember the exact mission parameters. I only know rescuing a Sekirei and becoming an Ashikabi were not a part of that. At least, I do not believe so." Back to rubbing his temples, he let out another breath. "Excepting that dream, all the memories I've recovered have been the result of outside stimulation I've experienced upon arriving here.

"Meeting you" he indicated the landlady, who raised an eyebrow, "meeting Akitsu" he thumbed in the Ice Sekirei's direction through the walls, "and your demand on why she survive" he concluded. "These have been the biggest factors thus far. I've had small fragments come in as I wandered around the city. Little memory bits that resemble déjà vu, as if I've been there before. Which…" he drew out with a bobble of his head, "as we've already clarified, I have. It's been disorienting at times. Especially discovering a pizza place I apparently liked wasn't there anymore. Little things like that."

The violet-haired woman was pensive for a moment before speaking. "How come your re-introduction to Yume-san did not provoke such a response?" He shrugged.

"I can only guess it's because I was already dreaming of her. Her face was firmly in my mind, as it'd been virtually haunting me for weeks." She nodded slowly before prompting another question.

"The memory, as you call it, that awoke from me; what was it?"

Several deep breaths were released before the Black Lord answered. "Takehito." Her eyes furrowed. "I was arguing with Takehito as his lab was on fire and circuitry exploding. I was attempting to convince him to leave, to survive, but he was refusing to. Something about his research he wasn't willing to abandon and wanting to save. I attempted using you as leverage to force him to leave, but he resisted. It ends after that."

What was crossing through her mind at that moment they could only guess, as she tucked her head and closed her eyes. It was several moments before she addressed them again. "My husband was a good man. He was dedicated to his work. It pains me to know he chose his work over returning to me." She took a deep breath herself. "But, that was the type of man he was: dedicated. If he did so, it was for a good reason."

"I believe it was, Miya." Her eyes, tinged with red out of sadness and rage, snapped up to meet green ones, looking back with softness. "'This data is what will save them'" he repeated. Miya's eyes widened slightly. "Those were some of the last words I remember from that argument. Whatever he was working on, he believed it would save the Sekirei as a whole. Including you." He shook his head sadly. "I don't yet remember what happens next, if there was anything else to remember. The whole lab was on fire, all because of some crystal." Shaking his head, he missed the quick look that Yume and Miya exchanged.

"I hate that fucking thing" he muttered, which had the two women exchanging another look, one much more meaningful, as it included surprise.

"Excuse me" an unsure voice spoke up, drawing all attention to the younger raven-head. The sudden, undivided attention had him flinching, but he gathered himself quickly. "While I don't understand much of what you're saying, I'm really confused about something, Black-sama." At his own raised eyebrow, and a wave of the hand to continue, he did so. "Pardon me, but you said you were fifteen when all of this happened, right?" He nodded slowly. "Why would a fifteen-year-old be involved in military missions? Is it because of your magic?"

Harry folded his hands on the table, locking them together as his thumbs twiddled with each other. The rest of the table had turned towards him with piqued curiosity as well. It was several minutes, during which Miya and Uzume had grabbed several glasses of ice and poured each of them a drink from one of the bottles the two men had brought home. The last Potter downed his in one gulp, then the second after Gabby refilled it. With an audible sigh, he turned to the young man. "That, I'm afraid, is a secret. I don't know you nearly well enough." Setting the glass down, he put his fingers to his head and ran them through his hair, before palming his forehead. "There are some things in this world, kid, that even though you want to know, you really don't want to know. Even Gabs here doesn't know the truth of it. My magic was a part of it, yes. But there's more, much more, that I'm in absolutely no way inclined to tell you." He drained a third glass. "And pray you never find out" he whispered as he twirled his empty glass, though everyone still heard it.

The mood was somber at that, each of them taking drinks of their own. Even Minato took a small sip, though coughed at the burning, which lightened the mood slightly. It was several moments before anyone spoke.

"Part of the reason I wanted to have this discussion was because I wanted to get caught up on what this bloody Sekirei plan was, and everything regarding Sekireis, Ashikabis, and their relationship. I think I have a slightly better understanding now." Harry closed his eyes shut tightly, replaying the memory from the beginning of the conversation as it ran through his head, and let the fresh memories settle into coherent thoughts. "Tell me, Uzume, when you kiss Chiho, do some sort of wings come out of your back?"

Between the segue, and being caught off guard by suddenly being addressed, the Veiled Sekirei was thoroughly dumbfounded before she nonetheless answered. "Yes, EJ-sama. Chiho says they're white, matching my veils. It's the symbol of our bond, our winging to our Ashikabis."

Harry nodded, breathing deeply. "Would it be too much of a gamble to wager that each Sekirei's wings are different? Likely an aspect of their respective element or power? Say...those Lightning Twins, with their purple-ish lightning, would their wings be similar color?"

"That's about right" Kagari provided, nodding his head. Several eyes turned towards him questioningly, and he just shrugged and took a gulp of his drink before continuing. "I'm friends with one of the scientists at M.B.I.; she's the one that told me that everyone's wings would be different, both in design and color."

Harry just nodded his head, slotting away that little tidbit for later. "Where are you going with this, EJ?" Gabby asked from where she'd moved behind him, laying her chin on his shoulder. He half-smiled at her, then turned towards the doorway. All eyes followed, and more than a few gasps of surprise were heard as they saw the dirty-blonde standing there, her hands clasped before her as she stared down Harry.

"Because if I'm not mistaken…" he began, coming to his feet and turning towards the woman." ... Akitsu is my Sekirei, and her wings are light blue."

Once again, the idiom "the silence is deafening" ran through his head, as he met the ice woman's eyes. "You promised me" she voiced, hardly more than a whisper. But, it was so quiet in the room, she might as well have used a megaphone for how it echoed. "You promised you'd return to me. You promised you wouldn't abandon me." That this was all said with a straight face and deadened tone just made it worse.

"Yes, I did" Harry admitted, looking down in shame. "I had every intention of returning to you, but I couldn't."

"Why?" That one word was a bomb in his ears. He knew he had a good reason, or at least one he'd convinced himself of. But the fact was he stopped questioning the missing memory. He let himself get distracted and forgot about it. How do you explain that to someone you made a promise to?

"They told me you died, but I didn't believe them. I could still feel my bond to you." That monotone was grating on Harry's ears, and he was inwardly begging for her to just yell at him already, to end the suffering. But he couldn't deny he felt responsible for the woman's plight, and so stood his ground. "But you never came for me. You never looked for me.

"I searched everywhere for you for a year. I travelled the world looking for you. Chasing rumors of where the Jade Shadow had been, talking with people he'd rescued. But no one knew where you came from." Harry flinched. He remembered hearing some of his commanders talking about a person that had been looking for him, but they'd been concerned it was someone out for revenge. He'd agreed back then, considering the number of enemies he'd made, so never pursued it. He hadn't even realized that the unknown person had stopped after some time.

"After that year, I couldn't take the pain any longer." She held a hand to her heart, or as close as she could get to her heart due to her ample bust. "I volunteered to be experimented on. They said they could take it from me, so I let them. And they did. With Yume-san dead and you gone, I had nothing left except the pain." She pulled out a pin from her hair, and with a twist, pulled it apart. That revealed a blade, slim as a letter opener, but sharp enough to cut through bone. He sensed Gabby and Musu-Yume stiffen at that, and them taking a step forward. He held out a hand to stop them, not turning his eyes from the woman.

After looking at both women, and meeting Harry's eyes, she pulled the blade across her wrist without hesitation. There was no flinching of any sort: no twitching of muscle, no wince, not even a dilation of the eyes. Nothing. "And now, I don't even have that." She pulled out a kerchief from her bosom and wiped away the blood. With another wave of her hand, a small icicle was covering the wound. She put the pin back together and returned it to her hair. "I feel no emotion. I feel no bond. I feel nothing" she monotoned, clasping her hands together. "I am broken, but I feel nothing. The anguish of losing you was taken from me."

"You sacrificed the bond to your Ashikabi to become an emotionless shell?" Kagari asked in disbelief. Over the years he'd encountered the woman numerous times, and her lack of emotion towards anything had perplexed him more than once. He'd tried to befriend her, as they'd both been experimented on, but the woman had been unresponsive. Now he knew why.

"I would rather feel nothing at all than be in constant anguish over someone who did not reciprocate my feelings toward them," she replied, her eyes not leaving Harry's.

"But, your empathic abilities…" Musu-Yume spoke up for the first time since Akitsu's arrival.

"Were damaged after Harry disappeared, and you died" she voiced. If she was surprised to see Yume very much alive, it certainly didn't register in a way anyone could discern. 'She really did get rid of her emotions. Then where did all that rage come from? Never mind, stupid question. Me. It was me. She recognized me, her missing Ashikabi. The one who abandoned her. Her anger must have been so great it broke through whatever blocks she has.'

"Where do we go from here?" Harry queried.

"Now, I return to my Ashikabi and wait for further instructions," she answered, turning towards the door.

Harry just blinked, not entirely sure he heard that correctly. He wasn't the only one.

"Your Ashikabi? I thought EJ was your Ashikabi?" Uzume prompted, before blinking a few times. "Wait, you were calling him Harry. Why were you calling him Harry?"

"Because that is his name" Akitsu answered, turning towards the shorter brunette. "His name is Harry Potter."

"I may not have recovered most of my memories from that time, but I've recovered enough to know I told you never to repeat that name to anyone" Harry countered, surprised at the heat in his voice.

"You did" she admitted, turning towards him with hardened eyes and equal heat. "And when you were my Ashikabi, I was obligated to obey that order. And I would have until the day I die, because I cared for you. But you are no longer my Ashikabi" she riposted venomously, surprising all with that display of emotion. "And thus, I am no longer bound by your orders." With that she turned and left.


'I can fight basilisks, werewolves, dragons, gorgons, hydras, true chimaeras. I can take on faux-demon spawn, dismantle governments, destroy a person's soul. Hell, I could probably burn a city to the ground with little difficulty. But women… for all my skill in pleasuring them in bed and teasing them relentlessly, an emotional woman I will never know how to confront.'

"Why didn't you ever come back for us?" The emotionless, deadened question from Musu-Yume was like a gunshot through his heart. If it had came from Gabby he probably would've collapsed right then and there. That he didn't anyways was a mystery to him. "Had you not left, you would've been able to feel that I was still alive, and I'd not have spent the last decade in this girl's body. Why?"

He closed his eyes, fighting back the tears. His occlumency barriers hadn't just been shredded but were absolutely obliterated by the sheer volume of emotions he'd experienced tonight, no small part due to the memory that nearly knocked him out again. A part of him wanted to take a few minutes to regain his mentality, but… perhaps, for this discussion, it was for the best he didn't. Taking a deep breath, he slowly turned and looked at the brunette, with Gabby still standing next to him. He was ever so grateful she understood how dangerous Memory Charms were, and how monumentally disastrous they can be.

Meeting her eyes, she asked the only obvious question that truly mattered at that moment, as it was very clear he wasn't "alright." He nodded to her, and she turned and with a *pop*, disapparated.

"Where did she go?" Uzume asked for the room at large.

"To the hotel room to retrieve something. It's time to get some answers. Not just for me" he added, looking at Musu-Yume, who was still expecting an answer to her questions. While her eyes hardened, she was not so emotionally compromised to not piece together his intentions, and for now would keep her peace. For now. Turning his gaze, a similar look was on Miya's, though much more composed. He knew if she wasn't keeping her outward cool, the room would be pissing their pants right now in fear. He wanted to laugh, but couldn't even find that small amount of amusement in him.

With another *crack*, Gabby reappeared, holding a number of items. To their credit, only Minato was startled by the noise, but only enough to tousle his hair a bit. He took the wristband and slid it on. Before activating it, he glanced at the little ducky, then at Miya with a question in his eyes. She nodded. Pulling out his wand, he cast a number of privacy spells, including one that was isolated around the camera in the corner, and the transmitter on the ducky. Holstering his wand, he pressed several of the runes and it powered on. A small display hovered over his wristband for all to see.

"Identification?" The Interactive Narrative Administration, or INA, had a mature woman's voice, and was more often than not quite direct and to the point.

"Code Name: Jade Shadow."

"Access Code?"

"Delta Echo Mike Oscar November Two One Six."

"Authentication?"

"Blood Tap, Confirmed."

"Authentication in Process. One moment." With nary a wince, he felt the needle tap into his wrist. 10 seconds later, his display flashed again.

"Authentication confirmed. Welcome, Jade Shadow. Security Clearance, Alpha - Two."

"Alpha - Two? I had Alpha - Prime. Why was I demoted?"

"Jade Shadow retains his rank as Major, Honorably Discharged. Due to his discharge, his clearance was initially revoked to ensure secrecy. In 2017, it was returned to him as Alpha - One after the death of his wife and child." Several gasps were heard from the room, but he and INA ignored them. "It was assumed he would utilize Monarch's resources in his hunt for her killers. After the destruction of Malfoy Manor, dubbed Ferret Den, and all occupants, Jade Shadow's access was demoted to Alpha - Two with the realization that Monarch's assistance would no longer be necessary."

"Why leave me access at all, then?"

Now, INA was the magical equivalent of a VI. That being said, her designers had taken it one step further and given her a personality. She was halfway between Apple's Siri and Halo's Cortana by this point, though closer to Cortana, as evident by her indignant look towards him. "Major, despite being Honorably Discharged, you are still an asset to Monarch. It is only because you are such a well-known name throughout the magical world that you were even permitted to leave in the first place. That you have not betrayed any of their secrets since has only reinforced their positive choice in that regard."

To the rest of the room's surprise, she turned and looked at each of them, before returning to face him. "That being said, Major, you are 'toeing the line', so to speak, by having this discussion in front of those who do not have a security clearance, and doing so in a language they understand."

"I'll take the hit. I want to speak to the General."

"General Rovik is not available at this time."

"Then make him available, damn it."

"General Rovik is not available at this time" she repeated. "However, Colonel Carter is, as is Brigadier General O'Neill and Major General Cain."

He thought it over for a moment before nodding. "Carter wouldn't have gone along with it and thus wouldn't have been in the know. O'Neil won't say a word if he knew at all. Fine, put on Cain. He's most likely to have the answers I want anyways."

She bowed slightly to him, before disappearing. Her face was replaced by that of grizzled old man with a face almost as pretty as Mad-Eye Moody's, though his nose was slightly in better shape. And the wrong eye is damaged. The similarities ended there, though, as while Moody was unpleasant on the best of days, Cain was rarely anything but joyful, even when kicking your ass. "Potter! Or is it Black? I never know what name you're going by these days." His face was all smiles at seeing the man that was more often than not called his protege.

"Cain" Harry answered plainly, and the man's smile slipped a bit.

"Now, is that how you greet your old comrade? Especially after all these years?"

"That's how I greet a man that I'm forced to wonder if he fucked with my head." Harry didn't bother hiding his dissention with the man, who had no issue picking up on it.

"I fuck with everyone's head, son, that's what I do." Harry knew that all too well. The man's ability to manipulate situations was bested only by Dumbledore, and that was likely due to old Dumbles having half a century on the man. Still, he was in no mood for games today.

"I'm talking about the memory blocks, charms, and whatever you outright deleted from my head, asshole." The man's smile slipped entirely this time, and the hardened warrior stepped forward.

"I've no idea what you're talking about, Major."

"Like hell you don't, General." That they'd resorted to ranks was evidence to the fallout between them. "For the past three weeks I've been having a memory on repeat in my dreams. At first I thought it might've just been a fucked-up fantasy of mine. But then I get to Japan…" his eyes narrowed at that, anger and surprise mixing together, "...and I meet the girl of said dream. Crazy right? Except, I've never laid eyes on her before then. And I'd have continued believing that, but guess what? She knows me!" He mock laughed with a shake of his head. "She knows my name, my real name, she even knows when we first met. And you know the craziest thing?" The man didn't answer, not that Harry actually expected him to. "She told me the date of that fateful meeting, which lands right at the beginning of that 'two-week coma' all of you said I was in."

"What are you doing in Japan, Major? You were forbidden from ever setting foot in that country." Whether he realized it or not, every other set of eyes in the room narrowed with raised eyebrows at that. How convenient that Harry had activated the translator on his wristband so everyone could follow along.

"In case you've forgotten, General, I don't take orders from you anymore. On top of that, that order was given to a 15-year-old boy with too much shit on his hands to really argue with such a strange order. Especially since no subsequent assignment ever required him going to Japan in the first place. And, to top it all off, what I do with my life is really, none of your goddamn business."

"It becomes my business when you disobey my direct order."

"An order that was immediately invalidated when I left your little vigilante group, dipshit."

"You swore an Oath to Monarch."

"I swore an Oath to follow all commands given to me as a member of Monarch. Once I was no longer a member - which INA tells me was shortly after my discharge, as you removed my clearance entirely - my Oath no longer bound me. Besides, in case you forgot, genius, if I truly had broken my Oath, I wouldn't be able to use this method of communication. I had it Blood Tap me, which, if you remember, checks both my blood AND my magical core for verification."

The normally unflappable man snarled at him, and Harry heard him barking orders at someone nearby. "Fine, Major Black. You've made your point. What do you want?"

"I want to know how many Memory Blocks, Charms, and Obliviations I was subjected to during my 'coma'. I want to know what was in that data pack I retrieved. I want to know what that fucking crystal was that I retrieved," Yume and Miya once again shared a surprised glance. "You know, the one that nearly fucking killed me? I want to know why it was done to me in the first place, and I want to know what my part is in this goddamn Sekirei Plan!"

Whatever the General had been prepared for, it was not for that last part, as his eyes widened in shock. "How do you know about that?"

Smirking vindictively, he pressed a button and the view rotated, showing the room at large before completing its circuit and locking onto him. "In case you didn't figure it out, those four are all Sekirei, and the young gentleman is an Ashikabi."

"You're playing a very dangerous game, Black." They stared at each other for a few minutes, before the General ducked his head in thought for a moment. "In honor of our past relationship, and for your service, I'll give you this one and only warning: Get out of Tokyo. Now. While this Game is technically ongoing, it will fully kick off within a month. Get out of there."

"I'm already involved, General, or did you not get that memo." The man raised a questioning eyebrow at him, so he threw the man a bone, hoping it doesn't bite him in the ass. "I'm an Ashikabi. I've likely already a couple Sekirei under my belt, and likely a few more on the way. Even if I have no Sekirei, I've already participated in the retrieval and protection of one, and the rescue of another, and declared war against another Ashikabi and his Sekireis, plural."

"If Sirius were alive…" he began, but was interrupted by Mount Harry.

"Don't you DARE use Sirius' name like that!" he shouted, slowly becoming apoplectic. "Sirius is DEAD because you fucking morons decided that keeping information to yourself was more important than saving lives. Eight people died on that mission, because you refused to trust anyone with the truth. Tonks died, Remus died, Sirius died. Kingsley's paralyzed, Moody lost his other leg. Even Tobias died because all of you in command decided your secrets were more important than lives. I almost died because of it. Fucking hell I was possessed by the Dark Wanker. So spare me the bull that he'd be disappointed, or would choose your side. All I'd have to do is show him the women in the room and he'd be high-fiving me for it. So, don't you try that bullshit."

Harry had to take several deep breaths to get himself under control before he sidelined himself any further. "You are going to give me answers, General. Because if you don't, I will get them anyway by removing the blocks myself."

"You'd be willing to take that risk?" Cain asked, his poker face looking to call him on a bluff.

"I've met two women this evening alone that want to kill or maim me for something I did ten years ago: one because I got her husband killed, the other for abandoning her. I've met a third that I've been having memory flashes about for nearly three weeks, that was presumed dead for nearly the entire decade because I disappeared. And every time I meet someone that I encountered back then, I get nearly knocked out from the pain for breaking through the blocks. So yeah, if it means unlocking and retrieving all the memories you're preventing me from remembering, I'll take the risk."

"You won't like the answers you find, Major."

"I don't like the answers I have now, General, which are few and far between. Either you help me remember, or you can consider our relationship at an irrevocable end."

"I don't appreciate being threatened, Major Black."

"I don't appreciate my head being fucked with, then lied to for a decade, General Cain. And if you think I'm going to go out the way everyone else that leaves Monarch goes, you've another thing coming. I'll send every operative's body back to you in pieces, one day at a time."

They stared each other down, the room having gone deathly silent, not that either of them really noticed, locked in their battle of wills. Once again, the General cracked first, though his statement had a finality to it that all were dreading. "So be it." And with that, he disconnected the call, and Harry was left there staring at his communicator.

He couldn't deny part of him expecting it to go as badly as it did, but he had held out some hope. He lowered his arm, just staring at the floor for a few minutes, before spinning on the dot and marching outside, grabbing his shoes as he did.


Nothing was making sense anymore, and he knew part of it was him allowing himself to get wound up. He was certain he'd broken the first Wizard's Rule more than a few times already. He'd thought they were corny when Remus introduced him to the series, but he couldn't deny they were good tenants to live by, fiction or no. But when dealing with an organization that deals in lies like currency, how do you know what's true and what's not?

First he's on a data retrieval, then he's on a protection detail, then he's killing people. Was it all one mission? Did he allow himself to get sidetracked? Musu-, no, Yume, from his dreams, was pretty good looking. Was he so distraught after Tonks that he allowed himself to be distracted so easily? Yume even said that Karasuba had knocked him out in that bunker, and they transported him to a lab. Maybe after she knocks him out, M.B.I. fucks with his head and works him over?

No, he didn't believe that last part, terrifying as it was. He had no knowledge of M.B.I. having that sort of technology. Then again, he chastised himself, part of why he was in this mess to begin with was lack of knowledge. Or, more accurately, existing knowledge that was removed from him. The thought that M.B.I. might've had a chance to experiment on him terrified him to no end. If they got their hands on a wizard, especially one of his caliber; he couldn't deny being worried about the possibilities.

If he was being honest with himself, and he was trying very hard to be completely honest at the moment, he was no longer sure of much in regards to 2010. In hindsight, he knew Monarch would go out of their way for cover ups, some to great extremes. He'd helped with several of them. What if they'd arranged the dementor attack to distract him? Monarch was supposed to be the evil that fought greater evil so others didn't have to. What if it was all a lie?

Stopping on the porch to slip his shoes on, he began taking stock of the area. Knowing Monarch as he did, they would be fast on their way to remove him from the equation, so to speak. That, or worse; they're involved in whatever's going on. For eight years he'd worked for and with Monarch to upstage and upend world governments, particularly the ICW. Until Sirius' death he'd not once questioned their actions, his own actions on their behalf. Now, he wondered if he didn't question them enough. How many missions had he gone on that were actually wrong? What really happened 10 years ago? Was his mission simply data retrieval, or was he sent to kill Takehito?

He couldn't remember ever failing a protection job. Miya said he'd sworn to protect Takehito, yet he didn't have any memory of the man except the brief flashes he kept getting. She had no reason to lie to him. Yet, her husband was dead and she's blaming him. Grief? Or did he actually do something, or worse, did he fail?

Walking around the property, he was casually waving his wand, putting up various protection spells. He didn't expect to be attacked here, as this isn't his place. But he wouldn't put it past Monarch to have triangulated his location, either. In hindsight, he'd said a LOT more than he meant to. He was not one for regret, but was very close to regretting not fixing his Occlumency shields before that conversation.

He also realized, as he completed the lap, that he'd accumulated more questions than answers, and they hadn't actually finished that conversation. That'd have to be remedied in the near future, when he wasn't so emotionally bent. Catching a glimpse of Musubi through a window, he shook his head and continued his perimeter walk. Another conversation to have.

Which brought him to the third girl that was a source of anguish: Akitsu. Part of him was thinking he should've gone after her instead of letting her leave, but the rest of him was asking, "What would you have said?" There wasn't anything else to say until he had more answers. Until he had something to offer her. If she had truly been his Sekirei, and they'd been truly bonded, and he failed his end of that bond, didn't she have the right to take matters into her own hands? What right did he have to challenge that? Despite the extremes she'd gone to do so.

'What are Sekirei?' He began making a list of questions in his head. While looking human, he was almost certain they weren't. Not entirely, at least. Musubi's demonstration of jumping the length of a football field without difficulty gave testament to that. Wielding elements and various powers without a foci wasn't all that uncommon in the wizarding world. There were numerous rituals that allowed you to focus your magical power by sacrificing your control of practically everything else. But, he was 99.99% certain they weren't witches either. And if they weren't actually human… Well, Harry would wait to cross that bridge when it became necessary, and he was certain that necessity would be soon.

'What are these "adjustments"? Why'd they get them?' Kagari had mentioned something about being adjusted. Or about Akitsu being adjusted. Harry was so scatterbrained at the moment he was having difficulty remembering the night's events straight, let alone the conversations.

'Why do they need to be "winged" by someone? Is that a natural part of their physiology, or a side-effect of these "adjustments"?' Harry was no stranger to being bonded to someone. He remembered when Gabby had bonded herself to him nearly three years earlier after Daphne was killed. How angry he had been when she'd done that, all but enslaving herself to his whim. He remembered how angry Hermione had been. He'd never been so hurt by his then-best friend in his life, and she had refused to listen to how impossible it was to break the bond without killing Gabby.

Harry sighed. Thinking of his ex-best friend hurt too much. In some ways, worse than thinking of Ginny or Daphne, let alone… he shook his head to clear his thoughts. It wasn't the time to be going down memory lane.

'What is the Sekirei Plan? How do I stop it? What is the point of winning? What happens to those who don't want to play?' Harry liked competition, LOVED competition. It gave him purpose, a push, a drive. There was a part of him that wanted to join this "game" just so he could win, the costs be damned. Every Sekirei he's knowingly come across loved to fight in some sort. The exception being the one he rescued, though it's not as if they'd had a whole lot of time together. Even little Kusano was wide-eyed smiling watching Musubi and 43 go at it, or Homura and Akitsu.

'Even Hana likes fighting, though that's strictly in the bedroom. Seems a stretch, but fighting for dominance fits, in a way. And the heavens know Kara likes fighting, considering how many times she's nearly killed me. Even Kagari in his Homura personage was enjoying his spar with Akitsu. And he joyfully watched my little bout with Toyotoma.

'And Miya. She's always walking like a wound spring, ready to strike. She may not actively seek the fight, but is most certainly willing. And if the damage she can do with a simple cooking spoon is any indication, she's more than capable.'

"What are you going to do, Harry-sama?" He jumped in surprise. So lost in thought he'd been, he didn't even realize he'd made another lap around the Inn. Or maybe it was several? He honestly had no idea. Checking the time on his phone, it was nearing 1 in the morning, yet he could hear that everyone was awake, sans Kusano and New Girl.

"I don't know, Yume" he answered, looking down at the brunette that was kneeling on the edge of the porch in traditional Japanese form. 'What is that called again? I remember it had something to do with Liza. Sensei Liza she liked to be called. She always sat like that. Rhymed with her name too… SEIZA! Right. Morgan had a strange pneumonic for it, Sensei Liza sits Seiza. Weird guy, too…'

"Gabby-san mentioned a ritual to help you remember. Are you going to go through with it?"

Harry nodded before answering. "Yeah. I need to remember. Whatever happened to you, Miya, Akitsu, Takehito, whatever I did, I need to know. How much of it was my fault? How much was out of my hands? How much had to do with my mission? What was my mission? How much did M.B.I. try doing to me?" He took a deep breath, staring at his feet. "How much was me being manipulated by those around me?"

Neither said anything for a moment, and he could see the hurt and sadness on the woman's face, as well as resignation. "I wish I could convince you of the truth from my perspective, but perhaps it is better you learn it for yourself. Wizard's First Rule, I believe you called it."

Harry was momentarily taken aback, but couldn't help but chuckle, shaking his head. "Yeah, that sounds like something I'd've said back then. My uncle had bought me this book series, The Sword of Truth. They had these Wizard Rules, basically rules of life to live by. Corny, but effective. And, not a bad code to begin with if you don't have one. I was pretty obsessed with the series at one point."

"I remember" she smiled wanly. "We even went to a bookstore, several bookstores, to find a copy in Japanese for me to read."

"And Akitsu?"

"She wasn't much of a reader, but she'd have done it if she thought it made you happy."

He just sighed, so much missing. "I don't know what to do with her, Yume. I don't know how to fix it, if it even can be fixed. If she even wants it fixed."

She finally stood, and stepped up to him to take his hand. She rolled his fingers between hers for a few minute before looking back up at him. "Whatever can be done, we'll do it together." Leaning in, she went to kiss him, only for him to turn his cheek at the last moment. She backed up, startled, her eyes watering heavily.

"No. Don't reject me as well. I've waited 10 years for you, Harry. TEN YEARS! I may not have a body anymore, but I still feel pain, Harry Potter. You're still my Ashikabi, don't turn your back on me."

Her shout had the unintentional side effect of drawing a worried-looking Minato, hearing Musubi's raised voice. Miya came out as well, spoon in hand. She heard the last of the conversation, and immediately put together what was going on. She knelt down in seiza as well, taking the silent vigil.

"I'm not rejecting you, Yume" Harry answered, raising a hand to cup her cheek. She backed up a bit, rage and despair swelling in her eyes. "I'm not. I'm not some 15-year-old kid following orders anymore. No one's taking me away."

"Then why? Why won't you kiss me? Why do you refuse to even touch me? WHY?" To his credit, Minato was keeping his mouth shut, but Harry could see the man's own sadness growing in his eyes.

"Because this isn't you, Yume" Harry provided. He took a step towards her, and was grateful she didn't retreat further. "The woman I am speaking to now, is my Sekirei Yume. But…" he took her hand, bringing it up between them. "This body, isn't yours. What would happen if you kissed me? I'm not Musubi's Ashikabi." He turned towards Minato, who had switched to surprise and confusion. "Musubi might've reacted to me as well, but she needs you, Minato."

"Why me?" he asked. "I'm no one special. I failed my entrance exam to the University, and have a part-time job. I can't take care of her. You can. You'd be much better off than me."

"Because you have a good heart, Minato" Harry pointed out, poking him in the chest. "That same heart that got Kusano's attention, and you went off on your own despite Sekirei invading those woods. Even after getting beaten down by one, you still stood there defiant against her instead of giving in. Granted, you were on your back, but the point is the same. You risked great injury to rescue a girl you didn't know. You took in Musubi despite my practically depositing her in your apartment after meeting, then foolheartedly got you kicked out of said apartment. Which, by the way" he leaned and looked at Miya, "we need to discuss his rent and how much I owe you for their deposit and first month. That is why I came here in the first place however many hours ago that was. Man, it's been a long day"

Miya just giggled, covering her mouth with a slight nod.

"Anyways, before I got sidetracked and ruined the mood, you're a good kid, Sahashi. You'd be surprised just how attractive a big heart is, and that's why Musubi is reacting so heavily to you. That you were unwilling to wing her until now because you wanted what's best for her just proves my point. I won't even bother lying, had she tried mounting me like she did you in your apartment, I'd not have stopped her, nor any of the other times she's tried springing it on you. The only reason I stopped her now" he turned towards Musu-Yume, "is because I honestly don't know what will happen if I kiss my Sekirei who is inhabiting the body of an unwinged one. Do I only affect mine, or both? While Musubi is very attractive, and Yume isn't making it easy, Musubi needs you much more than she needs me."

Minato looked very unsure, looking between him and Musu-Yume. "B-b-but she reacted to you as well, Black-sama."

"How much of that was actually Musubi, Minato?" At his confused look, he indicated the woman in question. "When Musubi landed on us, Yume here recognized me."

"She did? How do you know?"

"While you were busy staring up her derrière," despite the darkness, Minato's reddening face was visible, and both women giggled, "I was face-to-face with her. The recognition was in her eyes. And while that moment wasn't much, at your apartment we had a short conversation while you were in the lavatory. It was… unsettling." After rubbing the back of his neck, he looked back at Musu-Yume, who was also deep in thought. "How much of Musubi was influenced because Yume here emerged?" Harry shook his head, glancing at a stoic Miya, before adding more.

"There is a part of me that wants to grant Yume her wish, and wing Musubi. But, what sort of man would that make me? How would that be any better than rape?" He took one of Musu-Yume's hands in his own, thumbing the back of hers. "I refuse to be that person. Even at the cost of my own happiness. I won't do that, I won't be that." Yume just nodded, fighting back a sniffle as her hand dropped to her sides.

Harry raised her chin with a finger. "Besides, Musubi is far too innocent for her own good. She wouldn't survive a week under me."

Despite herself, Yume snorted at the innuendo, lightening the mood considerably. A couple watery chuckles later she was nodding in agreement. "No, I don't think she would, unfortunately." She sighed dramatically. "Which is frustrating to no end, let me tell you."

It was Harry's turn to chuckle. Even Minato let out an awkward chuckle, very much uncomfortable with the insinuations. "Despite the jokes, that does bring up a good point." Looking at the younger male, who was looking very awkward, he grinned as he added the kicker. "After all, we're now two men sharing the same woman. Ever had a threesome, Minato?"

His face erupted in a bloody Niagara Falls. Thankfully for all, he turned away from the duo who were doubled over laughing at the reaction. Even Miya was tittering from her perch. None of which made the young man feel any better.

Conjuring another cloth, he handed it to the young man before waving his wand again, and stopped the bleeding. "I think I've messed with your sensibilities enough for one evening. At this rate, you'll pass out from blood loss."

"I appweciate it" was the response in a high-pitched nasally voice, as his nose was being stuffed with the cloth. "Da dopping, nod da bwood woss." Chuckling again, he patted the boy on his back.

"I already stopped the blood flow for you. Just clean up the blood on your face a bit." Minato didn't appear to believe him at first, hesitating to remove the cloth. But, after a few moments, he did so, slowly, and discovered that, sure enough, it'd stopped.

"Thank you."

"Anytime." While Sahashi dabbed at his face, Potter turned towards the woman next to them, who was twitching. "Yume?"

"Musubi is attempting to regain control of her body, EJ-sama" was the immediate reply. "Seeing Minato hurt upset her."

"Well, we best get to letting her have it back then. That's another part of the conversation the four of us will have to have. Though, working it so both you and Musubi can partake will be somewhat of a challenge. Something to think about later." Musu-Yume gave a couple quick, short nods, still fighting from losing complete control. Harry laid a hand on the woman's shoulder, and the twitching immediately stopped. "Just a few more moments, Musubi. Minato's fine. He was just the receiving end of some jokes that made him uncomfortable. You can ask him in a little while. Please, just a few more moments."

He got a high-pitched "Ok!" in response, startling both men and the currently awake Yume, who covered her mouth mortified. "Whew, this will take some getting used to. I'll have to teach you how to communicate with her."

Yume didn't respond vocally, just nodding, her mouth still covered, as Minato cocked his head at her slightly.

"How- how do you know when you're talking to Musubi and not Yume?"

Harry couldn't help the smirk. "I've a number of ways, including how Yume specifically reacts to me, both physically and grammatically. But, the easiest and most obvious is the eyes. Musubi has brown eyes, Yume has violet, like you see her have now." Harry hadn't realized until the words left his mouth just how bright the porchlights were. They were very bright that such a detail was visible to normal eyes at nearly 0200.

"Does… does it hurt, when you change between Musubi and… well, you?" the smaller man asked. Harry fought back another laugh, as did Yume, whose horrified eyes were now giving way to mirth. The innocent question had her lowering her hand, a smile on her face.

"No, it doesn't hurt. It can be startling, at times. And, I try not to do it too much so I don't interfere with Musubi's life. But, with my Ashikabi around, the temptation has been too great."

"Which is something I'll have to look into, actually…" Harry mused, rubbing the back of his head. Both turned quizzical looks towards him, and he waved them off. "In the magical world there are ways to create someone a new body if their soul is intact. "

"Really?" Minato was beyond surprised, while Yume looked hopeful. She stepped up to him, taking his hand in both of hers.

"You're not lying to me, are you Harry-sama?"

He shook his head. "I've witnessed it occur twice. Granted, one ritual we will most assuredly NOT be doing, unless you have the bone of your father, flesh from a servant and blood of an enemy."

"That's… oddly specific" Yume offered, scrunching her face. "And quite morbid."

"Magic can be reeeally fucked up at times" Harry agreed, before shaking his head. "Anyways," he glanced at his phone again, "it's gotten early and we've gotten way off-topic about the most current necessity. Musubi needs to be winged, before anyone tries coming after her like they did Kusano."

Despite the change of topic and tone, Minato didn't balk. "But… that won't affect your bond with Yume-san, will it?" Harry just shook his head with a smile, gripping the man's shoulder with his hand.

"And that's why you're the right one for Musubi, Sahashi" he repeated, before looking towards Miya. "However, that is a very good question. Any insight, Miya?"

"As I have never been winged myself, I am unable to personally comment on it" she supplied, another tidbit for the last Potter to file away for later. "However, it is believed that once bonded, a Sekirei can never again bond to another besides her Ashikabi. That Akitsu has taken another Ashikabi seems to give lie to that. However, from what she revealed to us about her experimentations, it is likely that she has not truly formed a bond with her new Ashikabi, and is merely serving him. Being considered discarded, it is likely she has merely taken residence with the first Ashikabi that offered her a home."

The last Black couldn't help the sardonic grin. "Is it wrong that the possibility of her NOT being winged to another actually pleases me a bit? That feels awfully wrong of me, but I am finding myself not caring, so long as I still have a chance to get her back."

"In some lights, yes, it is very wrong and selfish. However, it could also be argued you are finally doing your duty as her Ashikabi to take care of her; so, in that light, no, not at all. Just shame on you for taking so long." In the time it took Harry to blink, Miya had drawn her spoon, thrown it at him, and hit him square between the eyes, and folded her arms in her sleeves again. While Minato was blinking in surprise at the woman's speed, and Yume smirking at his plight, Harry had laughed again, picking up the spoon. "You are lethal with this thing, you know that?"

"I have to keep scoundrels and those with perverted notions at bay. I must utilize the tools I have available to me" she added, smiling with that demonic visage. He laughed again as Minato AND Musu-Yume took steps backwards, and another when she pulled out a soup ladle.

'Must be a good story behind that. What'd Minato do? What'd Yume do? Wouldn't that be crazy if… wait…'

"After all, Black-san, I remember just how womanizing you were 10 years ago, and you've not changed much since, as far as I can tell."

'Yep, bingo. She busted me doing something. Fantasies about the landlady being stored behind security vaults. Best not let those come to light. Don't see that going well for my anatomy.'

"Wow, quite the party out here, what'd I miss? Miya, you flirting with your newest tenant? He is sexy, isn't he?"

If Harry was surprised by the sudden boldness from Uzume against Miya, Yume and Minato were doubly if not triply so. Right up until she wandered out, and collapsed against the porch wall holding a bottle. 'Ah. She found the good stuff. That explains it. Nothing like liquid courage, is there Uzume?'

"And if you wish to continue residing here, Uzume, you will not be engaging in any fornication activities under this roof, is that understood?" the landlady declared, directing her entire demon visage at the brunette. 'I think that is the fastest I've ever seen anyone sober up before. I really need to learn that trick.'

"Y-Y-Yes, Miya, n-n-no need to get all scary like that." Harry just laughed again, not even holding it in as the normally flirtatious woman became paler than the veils she controlled.

After a moment, Miya dropped the visage. "Good." She stood back up, brushing down her kimono. "Now, it is late. While I wish to continue this discussion, it would be better done tomorrow after a full night's rest. Black-san, will you and Gabby-san be sleeping here tonight, or returning to your hotel? If you decide to stay here tonight, you will behave yourselves."

"Don't worry, Miya, it's been too much of a rollercoaster tonight for either of us to be in the mood" Harry assured the woman. She didn't look all that convinced, but nonetheless nodded and turned indoors. Uzume let out a deep breath, and with a wink towards him, followed her inside.

"It's going to be a miracle if we ever have a straight conversation here" Harry voiced to the two remaining outside. Yume giggled like a schoolgirl, and Minato laughed, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly. "Look, whatever you choose to do, Minato, is between you and Musubi. Yume is not going to interfere with that decision, are you?" He directed the question/order towards the girl in question, and he saw her eyes dilate slightly before nodding. 'Hmm, so I didn't imagine it. Giving direct orders actually forces a form of compliance. Interesting.'

"Yes, Harry-sama. As you say." She sighed, looking down and twiddling her fingers. "I must add, for the record, I wish to be selfish and have you simply wing Musubi as well." She shook her head and looked up at them both. "Which, as Karasuba would tell you, is ironic, considering how much I advocated for every Sekirei to find their own Ashikabi on their own terms. However, much as I find myself wanting to go against that at this moment, you are right, Harry-sama, this isn't my body. I find myself forgetting that more and more often of late."

"Tomorrow, after the ritual, you can tell me what happened from your point of view, and we can compare notes. What happened to your body? Did M.B.I. preserve it, or…"

"I don't know, admittedly. I know they kept it in a stasis pod at first, but after June of 2011, it was moved, and I never saw it again."

'June 2011. Coincidence? I really hope not. Though, it makes me wonder when Akitsu went through with the experimentation. I just hope it wasn't also around then. My soul took quite the beating around then.'

"Well, we will figure it out." He stepped forward and kissed her on the forehead. "For now, though, it's time to let Musubi have her body back. This is going to be awkward enough as it is, let's not compound it."

She sighed defeated, before leaning up and kissing his cheek. "Yes, my Ashikabi, as you wish" she whispered in his ear, before kissing his cheek again. She stepped back and closed her eyes, and Harry reached out and could almost feel the shift, as he watched her physically change back into Musubi.

Minato was standing their very awkwardly, and Harry couldn't blame the man. Were it not for his sexual adventures over the years, he'd likely be in the same shoes. He'd watched other men sleep with Gabby a few times, and even participated in sharing once, and never again if he had anything to say about it. But, sharing two different women in one body? He had a brief flash of imagining dating only one person of conjoined twins, while a friend dated the other. 'I wonder how accurate Stuck on You was in portraying that? Though, that was only two men stuck at the hip, not sharing most of their body. Maybe it's like Alone? Except neither are the evil twin? Or Sisters? No, another evil twin.

'Then again, I wonder if Yume forces Musubi to allow her control, or they have some internal trade-off? Now THAT'S a question. Yume probably IS the evil twin here. But, I can't deny the two separate personalities… HOLY SHIT, it's true Schizophrenia! That's great, never slept with a Schizo. Wow. That sounds bad. Yeah, never repeat that, Potter, regardless of how interesting it would be. You're already fucked up enough as it is. Ha, just wait until you get to the REALLY bad fantasies.

'Probably a good thing no one hears most of my strange fantasies. If Gabby's weren't almost as bad, I doubt I'd've ever told her any of them. You'd never peg her to be a furry…'

He was brought out of his awfully disturbing and fucked up inner monologue by a bright flash, and he looked up to see Musubi sprouting pink wings, holding a gloved fist to her chest. She was smiling radiantly at Minato, who was smiling an equally goofy smile back at her, before she kissed him again and hugged him tight. He was fairly certain he heard a couple bones pop, but couldn't help but be happy for the guy.

'Oh, I really hope I don't regret this. I know I made good arguments with Yume, but I really don't have a damn clue what'll happen to her bond with me. Only one way to find out… just not tonight. No, let them have this night. Better head to bed.'

The new couple were so lost in each other Harry just smiled at them, and turned to find his girlfriend.