Chapter 2

Going Home


I DON'T OWN HYPERDIMENSION NEPTUNIA. Though I do own a special edition package of the game and art book...

Not much to say to you people, other than the disclaimer above. So, let's continue, shall we?

LET'S DO THIS!


Rouge kneeled before Histoire, head bowed low.

"I explicitly trust you not to do anything wrong. You will get your weapons back, and you better not try anything with them. You hear me?"

"I hear you..." He said, looking and feeling like a kicked puppy.

She handed him his sword and gun. "They're nice weapons..." She mused. "Just make sure they're used for the right things, okay?" She smiled.

"Okay." He replied. He fastened the weapons to him, checking them over.

"Is there anything you need before we head out?" She asked him.

"No... I'm good. What about Corruption Drive? If the need arises, do I have permission to use it?" He asked her.

"You have permission, but only for the most explicit of situations."

He nodded, turning around. She tugged on his sleeve, drawing his attention back to her. "Are you sure you're going to be okay with this?" She asked him, a worried expression on her face.

"Yeah, I'll be fine." He assured her.

"But it's your old home-"

"I'll be fine, I'll handle it." He interrupted her, and walked away.

"I'm worried..." Histoire murmured, following.

Rouge watched Vert pack her bag, immensely surprised at the amount of games she fit in there. It was like she would never see one ever again.

"Oh! I can't forget this!"

He gaped as the item disappeared into her bag. "L-Lady Green Heart! Where'd you get something so improper!"

"OH! Rouge! Didn't notice you there... You saw nothing." She simply smiled, closing up her bag. "Didn't I tell you to call me Vert?"

"Okay... Vert. But what are you doing packing adult materials into your travelling bag?" He asked, looking completely shocked at her.

"Didn't I say you saw nothing?" She beamed, blatantly choosing to ignore him.

He facepalmed.

"Now aren't you supposed to be escorting me?" She looped around his arm, smirking at his vibrant red blush. "Lead the way sir." When he wouldn't move due to embarrassment, she gave a hearty smack to his behind, causing him to yelp like a whipped dog.

He started walking, Vert smiling at his blush the entire way. They met up with the rest of their group in the foyer of the castle. Everyone gaped at them, as if surprised by the turn of events.

"You really are pregnant!" Compa exclaimed.

"NO! I'M NOT!" Vert shouted.

"Then why are you hooked around Ru-Ru's arm?" Compa said.

Rouge slapped his forehead. Histoire warned this would happen! The abbreviation nickname has arrived, and there was nothing he could do about it. He could do nothing at all, except grumble and twitch.

It was enough he had such a feminine name, but that came from a goddess, who's responsible for making female CPUs. Not male CPUs. And with the exception of him, that won't change for anytime soon. Not anytime soon, not at all...

"He's my escort, so he'll escort me." Vert explained. "Isn't that right, Ru-Ru?" She smiled at his nickname.

Never before, had Rouge had the immense urge to bash his head into a wall until it was a bloody mess. He attempted to wrestle his arm out of Vert's grip, but she kept it there in place. Gnawing the limb off was no longer an option, when he was nowhere near a Planeptune hospital. So his last option was to suck it up, deal with it, and slightly enjoy where the limb in question was stuck between at the moment.

Weapon/corpse/CPU or not, he was still a guy. Arfoire didn't remove his reproductive organs in the conversion and reanimation processes. He thanked the universe for that. He did want a family someday, when all this crap steamed over.

"Shall we head off?" Histoire asked them all. She was met with cheers in response.


Rouge fondled the grip of his gun, looking around the Leanbox Sky Harbor.

"You remember what happened here?" IF asks hesitantly, watching him with eyes laced with suspicion.

"I think I do... It's weird, watching one else's life through your own eyes..." He replies, data flashing across his eyes.

"Come on Iffy!" He shouted, waiting at the entrance of the bridge, firing his gun at the soldiers who came to arrest them.

"Don't call me Iffy!" She shouted as she ran.

"Get the heretics!" A Basilicom official shouted. This was Leanbox, no guns, only armor and swords. He opened fire, not afraid that he would possibly kill one of them.

The fact that the two of them worshipped Lady Green Heart didn't matter to these guys. To put it simply, they were heretics that deserved to be arrested, and punished in anyway necessary to promote and enforce their set of morals. He shot one in the face, crushing in his mask and knocking the soldier backwards. He reached into his jacket, fumbling around for something.

"This one's for the Purge!" He roared, pulling out a small black cylinder, and popping a ring off it . He lobbed it over IF's head, and it clattered to the ground. IF managed to reach him, as the cylinder exploded in a cloud of yellow gas.

"Mustard gas?-!" IF shrieked at him.

"No, monster repellent, courtesy of the Basilicom of Lastation." He grinned at her.

"That's even worse!"

"So, they'll get burned and scarred in places, but it won't kill them. They'll smell like shit for weeks though." He watched the soldiers scream in pain and horror as the gas entered through the gaps in their armor.

"What would the Basilicom of Lastation do if they knew you were pulling stuff like this?" She said as we watched the gas envelop the rest of the soldiers.

"I wouldn't care what they think. Most of them are corrupt bastards, and the CPU turns a blind eye as her landmass slowly goes to hell. Why do you think I'm also a Guild member?" He pointed out, turning to face the bridge.

"If they found out, you could be executed, you know? People on both sides see you as some sort of hero, but you're simply just living off your own agenda..." She gave a humoured smile.

"My life, my terms. I don't care about popularity or that stuff; I just care about my life, the lives of my friends and the lives of innocent people. That and everything else a person my age wants to do and/or get away with." He grinned.

She smiled back. "Then let's go."

"Already there!" He broke out into a run, "Come on Iffy!"

"Don't call me Iffy!"

They ran across the bridge, fleeing into Planeptune.

"That... Yeah, that was awkward. He had fun though, that I can assure you of." Rouge told her.

She sighed, walking forward. "I'm sorry if this is making you uncomfortable..."

"Well, it did come from learning that a good friend is dead..." He murmured to himself, following.

They all crossed the long bridge into Lowee.


Rouge took deep breaths, staring down the city from their vantage point on a mountain. "Stay close. We'll have to go through the Extremist area before we get to the Moderatist area now... Unless you want to backtrack all the way." He told them.

"All because Neptune wanted to take a shortcut..." Noire grumbled.

"But it looked so scenic!" Neptune argued.

"But we took a right the last time, and we got there fine! But no, we just had to take a left!" IF scolded her, looking annoyed. "I don't like the Extremists much... Too overzealous for my tastes..."

"Same here, Iffy." Rouge commented.

"Don't call me Iffy." She snapped.

"Sorry, strange habit..." Well, it was a habit, but not his.

They began to descend the mountain, unhindered by monsters. Though that didn't stop Rouge from maintaining a death grip on his weapons. He kept on his snow mask and hood as they walked into the city. It wouldn't do if someone were to recognize him.

They walked through the Extremist area, amidst all the looks people were giving them. Four goddesses, and three heroes walking down Guild City's streets... And they weren't fighting, evangelizing, or doing publicity stunts. It was, to put it very simply, weird.

Rouge kept an eye out for the more fanatical sort of Extremists.

"Lady White Heart!" A sleazy middle-aged man ran towards the group, ready to glomp the goddess of Lowee. Rouge clotheslined the man, dropping him to the ground. The same arm pulled a gun out, and levelled it at the man's head.

"State your business." Rouge said through the mask, eyeing the man warily. The man whimpered, staring at the barrel of the gun.

"Let the guy go." IF tried to convince him.

"Fine, Iffy, fine..."

"You still don't have the right to call me Iffy."

He sighed, twirling the pistol and slipping it back in the holster.

"Come on, let's move."

"YES!" Neptune cheered. "I wanna see more of this place!"

"Don't go alone- Hey!" She grabbed on to Rouge's sleeve, dragging him away. For a little girl, she was much stronger than she looked. Then again, she was older than she looked as well.

After a few dozen minutes of stumbling after the goddess with endless amounts of life, he stumbled to the ground, sliding across the icy street. "Are you okay?" Neptune shouted, kneeling down beside him. He rolled over, looking up at her.

"I've been through worse." He replied, sitting up.

"Here we are..." Histoire said, looking at the place the two had stopped. All heads turned to the building. It was a house, a modest one with distinct Lowee style.

"Former home of Reynald Takahashi, Monster Exterminator.

Faithful Guild member, devoted friend, loving husband.

May he be remembered, for his brave acts, his kindness and generosity, and the impact he made on many lives. May we never forget Reynald Takahashi." Neptune read off a plaque that hung off the doorway. Flowers were laid down before it, pieces of paper and prayers for his soul among them. This was some impromptu memorial.

"H-Husband?-!" Noire gaped.

"... Oh fucking crap." He swore.

"You took the words out of my mouth." Blanc mused, rereading the plaque.

"... Oh goddesses damn it!" He shouted, grabbing his head.

"Hey!" Five people shouted at him. "What was that for?-!"

"Sorry, sorry..." He replied, glaring at the plaque. "But now I know there's some woman out there grieving over the previous owner of this body, and holy shit, I have/had a wife! Oh crap I'm confused!" He muttered, rubbing his forehead. "Iffy, did you know about this?"

"... Er..." She looked away.

"Damn it." He muttered. "Anyway, let's get inside... I think there's a secret entrance in the back."

He led them to the backyard, looking around. There was a small garden, worn out dummies for combat practice, a small river of heated water that led to a pond... The perfect home to start a family, in his opinion... He walked to the back of the house, prodding at the wall with his hand.

"Ah, here..." He tapped the spot on the wall two times, paused, then another two times, then another pause, and a final two times. The wall slid open, revealing a door. "Come on." He said to them all.

He entered the house, everyone following. Everything was surprisingly well kept, clean, and everything. Weird... He thought the place would have been abandoned already.

"EEEK! WHO ARE YOU, AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE!" A beautiful woman with long brown hair, golden eyes, and wearing a sweater and jeans shouted at him.

"Astoria, calm down!"

"Iffy? W-What are all these people doing in R-Reynald's house!" The woman stammered, teary eyed.

"We're just visiting. Don't worry, we won't disturb anything." She assured her.

"Okay... I've been rather depressed and lonely lately... Since Reynald died..." She curled up on a sofa, and sobbed, her grief causing her not to even recognize the important people that entered the house. IF walked up to her and comforted her with consoling words. She kept glancing back at Rouge every few seconds, with conflicting emotions dancing across her face.

"He promised he'd come home... He promised... He promised... Waaaaaaaaaaah!" She sobbed.

Rouge kept his hood up and mask on, even though it was getting rather hot. No one could notice him with his eyes clamped shut, gritting his teeth and clenching his fists, powerless to do anything. Vert pulled him to the side, an angry look on her face. "Do something! She's your wife!" She hissed, pointing at the woman.

"... She was Reynald's wife, not mine."

She sighed, looking away. "I'm sorry-" He tried to apologize, but was cut off.

"Don't. You're right. But I wish we could do something for her..." She said, sadly.


Rouge made tea, left to watch the woman, Astoria, as everyone else went to sightsee. After a heated argument, he was forced to stay behind.

"Here." He handed a cup to the woman, who took it quietly, sipping.

"He's gone... Isn't he?"

"... He is. I'm sorry for your loss." He said sincerely.

"Why won't you take that hood and mask off?" She asked.

"... I can't tell you." He really couldn't, besides, how would you tell a woman that you were the walking, talking, reanimated body of her husband? Tell her, oh great, you're dead, and don't love her at all? Hell no!

Memories flashed by in his head, and he struggled to keep a straight face and cope with the pain. Most of them revolved around the woman sitting before him, the rest were of conversations and simple day to day life. It felt weird... Reynald loved this woman very much.

But he wasn't Reynald. Reynald died, a Virus CPU, and then an Anti-Virus CPU took control of his body. He sighed as the woman looked like she was going to break out in tears. "He must have loved you very much... And I'm sure he wouldn't want to see you tearing yourself apart like this."

She roughly wiped away her tears. "Okay..." She said, still keeping her sad, weary look. Rouge was speechless, confused out of his mind on what to do next.


"Over there, over there!" Neptune shouted.

"Let's go!" Compa squealed.

"Look at that!" Vert pointed at some large building in the distance.

"Girls..." Histoire murmured exasperatedly, being forced to babysit all of them. Heck, she was thousands of years old, and these girls still looked older than her. Maybe she would give herself a few upgrades...

She followed them, keeping an eye out for any situation that may cause her to go on a smiting spree. A strange feeling plagued the back of her mind, as if something was going to go wrong, and soon. A dark shadow loomed over them. She looked up.

She decided to take a leaf out of Blanc's book, no matter how much out of character it was.

"Oh fuck."

Flying there was a little girl. Misshapen half-organic, half-mechanical wings kept her aloft, monstrous armoured arms and legs replacing human limbs. She knew what this was. Corruption Drive.

This was a Virus CPU.


ROUGE! Histoire's voice shouted into his head.

"Wha-"

WE NEED HELP!

"On my way." He murmured under his breath. "I have to go," He told Astoria, "stay safe." He smiled grimly.

He ran out the back, secret entrance. Locking the door, he sprinted out onto the streets, head swinging wildly, searching for the group. He needed to find them fast. Only one way to do something like that...

"Corruption Drive. Execute."

He dropped to his knees, pain engulfing him. His body transformed, morphing before his clenched eyes. It hurt even more than the last time! What was happening?

With a flap of his wings, he was airborne. He blinked.

Stab.

A spear entered through his right shoulder, raining blood down onto the streets below. His eyes widened to the size of plates, as he stared into the eyes of his attacker. I wasn't possible, or so he thought. But she stood right before him, eyes glinting with an ominous glow.

The same girl that lay dead at his feet, the same girl whose body lay stabbed at the end of his sword, the same girl who lay murdered by his hands, Arfoire's hands... And now she was ready to kill him.

"Target Locked. Capture. Dead or Alive." She said in a cold, mechanical voice.

Arfoire, you sick bitch. Histoire and Rouge thought at the same time.

The spear twisted in his shoulder, drawing more blood. With an armoured hand, Rouge yanked the spear out, kicking off the girl to gain distance. He brought the hand to his shoulder, gritting his teeth, eyes wild in the heat of battle. "Regeneration Program. Execute."

The wound opened wide once more, and then slowly, excruciatingly, stitched itself back together. He would need to see a doctor later; the regeneration process was never perfect... He flicked his rifle out, levelling it at the girl's head. He didn't want to do this.

But it had to be done.

He opened fire, bullets raining down on the girl. She began to twirl her spear at an inhuman -rate, which deflected most of the bullets. He growled. Close-quarters battle it was.

He readied his katana, trailing the blade through the air. With another flap of his wings, he charged. At a skin peeling speed, he rushed at the girl, sword ready to stab her. She twisted in the air, using her spear to deflect him to the right, and then brought the blade down on his back.

The slightest motion of his abdomen allowed the blade to soar past him, and gave him enough momentum to plunge his elbow in her face. He swung his sword down on her, but she regained her stance, blocking the sword with her spear. He kept hacking down on her, in an effort to break the thing in half. But then again, this was Gamindustri.

Most weapons are more or less invulnerable for a while to damage (malfunctions, no), with the exception of guns.

But they still had to follow the laws of physics. Rouge relentlessly kept up his attacks on her, waiting for an opening. There! He slammed down his sword once more.

The spear dented and snapped, the blade rocketing down towards the girl's head. It caught her in the shoulder, making a large cut. The girl shrieked, grabbing Rouge with her monstrous hands, trying to push him away. Being older, bigger, and with much more experience, Rouge gave a heavy flap of his wings, charging once more.

The force of his push sent them flying forward, then falling towards the ground. They crashed into the street, making a small crater in the paved street. She pushed off the ground, tackling him, still shrieking. He wrestled her to the ground, forcing her to the street.

He pinned her with his leg, readying his katana. It was now or never. He raised the blade up, primed to stab. With a deep breath, he brought the sword down.

WAIT! Histoire screamed.

The blade stopped, already touching the girl's throat.

"What should I do Histoire?" He asked, objectively.

I want to give her the same chance you had.

"I don't want to put her through what I'm going through. Too many risks. I don't think the CPU you'd make would be able to handle it. Hell, I'm barely able to handle it."

Still... I wantto give her a chance...

"Then what should I do?"

Focus. I'll send you an installation program, the CPU I made in case something like this happened.

Data flashed through his HUD and mind, showing him what to do.

"Are you really sure about this?"

Positive. Begin the installation.

He raised the sword up again. The girl adopted a resigned look, as if acknowledging her fate. He brought the sword down. She closed her eyes.

"Installation... Execute."

She opened her eyes, staring at the blade stuck in the stone beside her. She turned to Rouge as her world went black. He clamped his hand around her head, a luminous aura surrounding the limb and its target. She began to scream, viciously thrashing about, trying to do something to end the pain.

But Rouge kept his hold on her head. Soon she stopped thrashing, the transformation from Corruption Drive slowly reversing. When it did, she lay there, just a little girl once more. She adopted a meek expression, then one of her first emotion.

Fear.

"What... Are... You...?" She asked slowly, as data flashed before her eyes.

"Me? I'm just a monster." He said grimly, returning to human form.

She passed out.


Rouge didn't want to sound preachy, but that's what he saw himself as. A monster. He knew there were a shitload of clichéd elements that utilized that train of thought, but when you took note of what he was... You really couldn't find a better definition.

Unless you count "weaponized reanimated corpse" suitable as such... Yeah, it was pretty damn depressing. But for all intents and purposes, he had a soul, a human(ish) soul. He didn't think he did...

But Histoire assured him that he had. So he had no reason to grow introverted, depressed, and all-round insufferable, like many a clichéd character. He wasn't absolutely suicidal, well, minus that time a few days ago... But he loved life.

He loved the things it had to offer, he loved the very, very few people who populated it, he loved the experiences, and he loved the thrills and the emotions it gave him. If he could feel that, then in no way, he was a monster. But with all his experiences, the ones he never had a choice in... Well, like a hard kick to the balls, they hurt.

Very badly... And when you wound something, you almost definitely leave a few scars. As Rouge had his little soul search, he sat beside the little girl, laying down on a bed in the Guild City Basilicom. She was still unconscious.

So all in all, he was confused. With only almost a year of life experience under his belt, he didn't have enough to generate a decent solution to his personal problems. A few more years later, he'd probably look back at this and laugh at how foolish he was, and move on with his life. He put a stop to his pity party, prematurely ending it before it got to out of hand and he became start acting like an insufferable douche who hated his life, himself, and everyone else.

He'd figure out his answer, one way or another.

Histoire drifted into the room, floating on her book. "Rouge? Are you okay? Is she okay?"

"She's fine. Don't worry." Rouge replied, leaning back into his chair.

"... What about you?" She asked hesitantly.

"I'm doing well... Or so I think." He said, whistling softly to a tune.

She sighed. "Alright then... It's late, get some rest." She left the room quietly.

There was silence once again.

He was about to resume his introspection after dozing off for about an hour, when a quiet, soft voice snapped him back into reality.

"... Where am I? Who am I? Who are you? What's going on?"


The little girl had woken up, looking around. She stared in fear at the man sitting at a chair beside her, backing up in her bed. She pulled the blankets over her head, shuddering. To her, this was some nightmare.

The blankets slid off of her slowly, the man trying to pull them away. She grabbed them tight, tugging on them with a death grip. She was scared. The man/monster was here.

"I'm not going to hurt you." The man assured her sincerely. He held out a comforting hand. She looked at it with immense suspicion, narrowing her eyes.

"I don't trust you." She snapped.

"Don't worry, I was like that before." He replied, slowly withdrawing the hand. She reached out quickly and grabbed it.

"What do you mean?" She asked.

"You feel scared, misplaced, alone, and you don't even know why." The man said, as if he knew exactly what was going on.

She flinched, looking resigned. She knew he was right. She gripped his hand, looking away from his analytical red eyes. The very same eyes seemed to pierce through the darkness, and peer into her very soul.

Corny, right? But the way his gaze fell upon her... She saw things in his eyes, things such as emotions. She saw pain, she saw sorrow, she saw unhealthy amounts of self-pity, but she also saw the good things.

Honesty for one, empathy, to list another... This man wasn't going to hurt her. But with how weary he was, and how wary she was, she would kill him easily and mercilessly if he tried. But that wouldn't happen anytime soon.

So for now, she decided to trust him. She held onto his hand, with only her small one that could just barely grip it. The man lightly gripped back, in assurance. It felt warm, with a caring feeling lingering from the touch of his flesh...

It felt nice, to put it simply.

Data flickered through her mind, cataloguing her new experiences. It was weird. She had no previous memories... Where did they go?

She was confused, very confused. A small timer appeared in her HUD. Apparently, she had existed for about 9 hours, and a few minutes. Not that long...

So she was created. But she had no memories, other than simply coming into existence into serious pain, mind overflowing with new information. Then she passed out. She floated in some subspace of some sort, learning at the speed of light.

When she woke up, she was here, sitting in a bed, holding the hand of some stranger. The very same stranger may or may not have hurt her, badly. But someone talking in the back of her head told her to trust him. It told her that he was good, that he would help her, care for her.

She also had some strange orders, commands listing for her to kill him on the spot, tear him to pieces for some obscure reason. She didn't know who to follow. So she followed instinct, or well, what she thought to be her instinct. She wasn't some puppet, from what she learned.

Her instincts wanted, badly, to trust the man, but to still be very wary around him. Who knew what he wanted to do? He may have had some ulterior motive. But for some reason, yet again, she still had some unexplainable "attraction" to him.

Not the romantic sort, of course, but more like the familiar sort. The kind of feeling that urged her to stay close to him. The database installed into her brain informed her of the right term. It called this attraction, a "bond".

So they were bonding on the emotional scale. So they were just two souls, similar of circumstance, living in an unforgiving world, with barely anything but the very small human connections they have made, linked together by a feeling of connection... She also happened to wonder about who, just who, was the idiot that decided to install a playwright's understanding of the world into her head. Little did she know, a certain book-fairy sneezed in her sleep, grumbling discontentedly as she hugged a pillow much bigger than her.

"What's your name?" She asked the man.

"My name's Rouge." The man replied, smiling nonchalantly.

"Then... What's my name?"

The man, Rouge, adopted a look of thought. "I should let Histoire handle this... Nah."

"Histoire?" The name sounded familiar as well.

"Someone you'll meet later." He said. "Now let me think..."

There was silence for a second.

"I'll think I'll call you Violette. You seem like a Violette to me..." He smiled at her, reaching out a hand to pat her head. She felt embarrassed, quite annoyed with the man. But the contact felt nice.

So she said nothing, letting the man do what he wanted to the top of her head. But if he did something, she was prepared to bite his arm off and feed the offending limb to a dog or some carnivorous monster that lived on Lowee. She doubted it would happen, but hey, it didn't hurt to be prepared. A grumbling sound emanated lightly from her throat, a content feeling washing over her.

Her database of a mind began to analyze itself, categorizing things. She wondered what to classify Rouge. Data flashed before her eyes, the AI giving her a few options. Most of them were inappropriate, or so her recently informed common sense told her, for this kind of "relationship" or whatever it was.

Father? No, not good. Lover? Hell no, out of the question.

One simply just clicked with her. It felt right, someway, somehow. It suited their situation. It suited what she decided she felt about the man.

Brother.

She didn't know why, but she felt that sibling vibe resonate from him. It felt right, to her anyway. She held his wrist softly as his hand rubbed her head, rustling her hair about. She blushed, as her AI informed her of numerous anime and manga that focus on intimate sibling relationships...

Well, that scarred her a bit. But they weren't siblings, not even close. Just two people- Damn playwright sense of understanding... She wasn't going to go there again.

She felt that Rouge understood her, and in a way, she would grow to understand him. Whether that made them family, she didn't know. She was still so confused, her AI wasn't helping. She would sort out her thoughts later.

Right now, she would just enjoy the support and the company. Just as a little girl.


Rouge tucked the girl into bed, promising her that he'd definitely see her in the morning. He left the room with a quaint "Good night." He lingered outside the door for a few moments, and walked away. He paced around the halls of the Basilicom, not able to sleep.

Thoughts wandered through his head as he wandered through the building. He knew he had to do something, for a certain woman. Give her some closure... Time to make a late night visit, maybe she was still at Reynald's house?

As he approached the gates, he noticed bright lights outlining the cracks of Vert's room. He was about to knock on the door, when he noticed it was opened. He pushed it open lightly, to see Vert engrossed with a game on a laptop. She was playing Four Goddesses Online.

"No, no! Get aggro! Idiot, don't stand in the fire! Get our medic to rez you! I'm going to pwn your ass in PVP later, if you don't start debuffing him! Hey, didn't I say get out of the fire! Oh, don't you dare call me that! Tell me which landmass you live on, and I'm going to hand divine intervention on you, you sorry little prick!" She barked into a headset, sounds of the game blaring through her ears.

He entered the room, walking over to her. Peering over her shoulder, he watched her play. He tapped her shoulder lightly, to garner her attention. "How's it going?"

"EEEEEK!"

She leaped up, frightened, accidentally snapping a cord from the laptop. She gaped as the word, Disconnected, flashed across the screen. She began to twitch, setting the laptop down and glaring at Rouge. "WHAT WAS THAT FOR?-! YOU COST ME THE BIGGEST FIGHT IN MY GUILD'S HISTORY-" She shouted at him, before she was cut off by Rouge's hand.

"Shush, everyone's sleeping." He scolded her.

She looked like she was on the verge of tears.

"There, there, don't cry..." He murmured, moving his hand to pat her head. She grumbled, possibly annoyed or enjoying it.

"What are you doing up this late?" She asked him.

"I was planning to go out... Get something done." He replied.

"Okay then..."

There was silence, except for the sound of rustling hair.

"... Will you stop that?"

"... Sorry." He pulled away his hand, smiling. "Well, I'll be going then." He turned around to leave.

"Wait, I'm going too."

"But-"

"No buts. I'm just coming. And you owe me one for tonight, remember that."

"Alright, alright..." He swore mentally, receiving a quiet, discrete scolding from a half asleep Histoire.

But seriously, who knew what Vert would ask of him?

They walked down the streets of Guild City, quietly and unnoticed. Streetlights illuminated the cobblestone streets, shining lightly on the powdery snow. Everyone was asleep, no one gave them any trouble. They stopped in front of Reynald's house.

Light came from a window, a figure curled up right by it. "Wait here." Rouge told Vert, and he walked into the lawn. He picked up a pebble, playing by memory.

Well, Reynald's memory.

He tossed it at the window, and it lightly rapped against the glass, getting the figure's attention. The figure turned to the window, staring intently in the direction where the pebble came from. It was Astoria. Rouge waved up at her.

Her eyes widened, her hand covering her mouth. She threw open the window, leaning out of it.

"I'm home dear." He smiled. "Sorry for making you wait."

"Reynald... Oh my goddess, Reynald..." She sobbed, looking at him. She leaned even more out of the window. Reynald ran forward, remembering what happened the last time. She fell out of the window, tumbling towards the ground.

He leaped forward, catching her in his arms. They landed in a bed of powder, softly and unhurt.

"You never learn, do you?" He smiled at her, sweeping away powder from her face.

"I thought you died!" She sobbed into his chest. "I thought I'd lost you forever!"

"Astoria... I can't stay for long." He murmured to her.

"Why? I want you to stay!"

"I don't belong here anymore."

"But I love you! Why are you going to go?-!"

"Astoria... I love you too. But I don't belong on this world anymore. It's time for me to move on, and for you to do the same."

"But-"

She was cut off by his lips. When he parted, he stared into her eyes. "I'm sorry Astoria. But this is my last goodbye."

"Reynald..." She sobbed. "You remember that night? That night up in the mountains, the night when snow fell from a clear sky? The night you proposed? You promised to come home to me, every single time you had to leave. You promised to come home, to our tiny little family. But now... You're telling me you have to leave again, and this time you won't come back? You promised me Reynald.You promised."

Rouge was silent, personal emotions trying to stop him from continuing this. "I know I promised. But I don't have any control over this anymore. If I had a choice, I would be staying here with you. But I can't. I have to go."

She broke out into heavy tears again at his response.

"I want to hear it again. Just this one last time... I want to hear your eternal promise to me."

He closed his eyes, deep in thought. "I, Reynald Takahashi, promise to you, Astoria Takahashi... The woman I love and cherish before everything, that you will see me again. I promise to love you, hold you, comfort you, and protect you. Astoria, to put it simply, I love you with every bit of my soul." He smiled at her.

"Reynald..."

"I-"

He was now interrupted by her lips. When she let go, she stared into his eyes. "I love you Reynald. I'll see you again someday, someday... You promise, right?"

"I promise."

"Then I'll wait. No matter what happens, I'll wait."

She burrowed into his chest again. He held her, rocking her lightly back and forth. He felt guilty for leading her on like this, making her spend the rest of her life waiting for a man who would never come home... But she would see Reynald one day.

"I have to go now. See you soon, okay?" He dried her tears with a hand.

"Okay... Goddess, this is corny, but... Reynald?"

"Yeah?"

"I love you."

"I love you too."

He began to shine with a bright light. "Goodbye, my love."

The light grew in brightness, drowning them out. When it disappeared, Rouge was left lying down on the ground, an unconscious Astoria on his chest. He sat up, and carried her. He brought her inside, and settled her on her bed.

"That was a nice thing you did for her."

He flinched, turning around. Vert had followed him.

"I wanted to give her some closure..."

"You seemed like you enjoyed all that kissing." She replied as they walked out of the house.

"... It felt weird. I feel bad for lying and all that stuff..."

"Don't. You did it all to cheer her up." She smiled.

"... It felt weird kissing someone I barely know." He replied as they made their way to the Basilicom building. "Histoire always told me that it would be something special. But then again, she also kept talking about all this other girly stuff... Yeah, I have no clue what the hell I am talking about."

"Language!" She hit him lightly on the arm.

"Sorry, sorry." He apologized, smiling at her.

"So... You're curious, I'm curious... We ask the same question... What's a kiss really supposed to feel like...?"

"I'm going for passionate, emotion filled... I have no other idea. I don't really know about this kind of thing."

"But don't you have a fascination with soap operas?"

He flinched. "Who told you that?"

"Histoire."

He grumbled.

"So... Just to try it... Would you like to try it with me?"

"... Try what?" He asked, focusing on something else rather than his cruel and unusual torture methods he wanted to try on monsters and in a few cases, Histoire.

"... A kiss."

"What is this, some cheap romance/action novel you can find off the internet?"

"Maybe, maybe not. It could even be based of a game that's about this world. But seriously... Do you want to try?"

"... Sure, why not..." He said hesitantly.

They stopped walking, looking at each other. They were silent, unmoving.

"... So, how do we do this?" He asked, breaking the silence.

"In video games, it's the heroine that makes the first move."

"Okay then miss heroine, thanks for volunteering." He smiled.

"No fair!"

"All's fair in love and war." He smirked.

"This isn't war." She pouted.

"It's neither love."

"You sure about that?" She smirked herself, moving closer and in his face.

"I'm sure." He quipped, inching forward.

Soon, there were inches between the two, as they stared each other down.

"Ladies first?" He said, grinning.

"I don't mind if you do." She smiled.

"Hey!"

They broke out into laughter. After they calmed down, they looked each other in the eyes again.

"So do what we feel like?"

"I'm pretty sure that's how it works."

There was silence yet again.

"... Maybe we'll try again later-"

He was cut off by Vert's lips. Like very clichéd, trashy romantic fiction, he kissed back with all the vigour in his soul. Like I said, clichéd. But the emotion was there, it was there alright.

Just a myriad of feelings exchanged between the two. He never felt this way before. New experiences were constantly documented within the archive of his mind, but this was completely new. Unexplainable, intangible, euphoric, enrapturing, well, to put it in layman's terms, it felt really damn good.

They drew apart, looking at each other with their faces on fire. Rouge rubbed the back of his head with his hand, whistling.

"... That was nice." He smiled sheepishly.

"It was... Wasn't it?" She smiled back.

Thoughts ran rampant through his head. "Shall we go?" He held out his arm.

"Let's." She grabbed onto his arm, and together they continued walking.


"I hear you had a bit of fun last night." Histoire told Rouge as he ate breakfast in his room.

"So what if I did?" He said, sipping coffee.

"I'd say use protection."

He spit-take over the table. "W-Where did you get that idea?-!"

"The blissful smile on Vert's face when we came to wake her up for sleeping in... She also kept murmuring your name."

He flushed, beet red. "We didn't do that, alright!"

"Would you have liked to?"

He slapped his forehead. "That's private."

You can't hide anything from me, Rouge. Or did you forget that mental connection of ours?

He swore, face burning up. "I've got something to check." He stood up quickly. "See you later!"

He ran out of the room, as a giggling Histoire watched.

Ah, the power of young love.

"We're not in love!" He shouted back to her, before storming off.

He wandered the halls of the Basilicom once more, before stopping before the little girl's, Violette's, room. He entered it quietly, to see her still curled up on her bed. Pulling up a chair, he sat down beside her. She twitched, rolling away from him. She was awake.

"Good morning." He smiled at her.

He received a quiet reply. "Good morning..."

"Get out of bed, sleepyhead. I want you to meet someone."


Violette stumbled out of bed, yawning.

"Follow me." Rouge said to her, gesturing for the door. She trotted after the much bigger man, eying him every step of the way. He really had the sibling feeling to him...

"Hey, Histoire! You got a visitor!"

She lingered outside the door to the room, nervous. She had her suspicions as well about this Histoire person. Rouge noticed this and held out a hand. "Don't be afraid. She's not going to hurt you."

She looked at the hand hesitantly before taking it. He led her into the room. She stared with wide eyes at the little girl sitting on a floating book. The girl smiled, looking her over.

"Hello, little one. My name is Histoire." The girl said to her. "I believe Rouge named you Violette, correct?" Violette nodded.

"You must have many questions then... Please, sit. We'll try to answer as many as we can."

Violette looked over where to sit, and opted to sit on the bed. "... Why am I here? What's the purpose of my life?"

Rouge and Histoire shared a look. "No real reason, no real purpose, to be honest, but..." Histoire started off, "Why do you think you should be here?"

"I... I don't know."

"If you don't have an answer, then make one. Live. It was my answer, when I was put through your situation. For you, you can take after me, or you can do what you wish with your life. You're no weapon, you're no puppet. Just do your own thing." Rouge said to her, smiling.

She looked at him, a thoughtful look gracing her young face. "I'd give it some thought though." He sighed, reaching over to pat her head. She grumbled yet again, this time annoyed rather than pleased.

She prodded the limb with a finger. Then, she prodded it with the tip of a knife she pulled from his pocket.

"YOUCH!" He shouted, rubbing his now bleeding arm. Violette snickered a little, grinning, but at the look of pain on his face, she felt a little guilty.

"That's a bad thing to do!" Histoire scolded her, as Rouge rubbed his arm. She hung her head, guiltily. She put the knife down, but somehow cut her finger on the blade. Rouge turned to her quickly, ignoring his wound to check hers.

She brought it closer to herself, trying to stop the flow of blood. It stopped. But not the way you would think it had. As the blood stained her shirt, the two halves of split flesh began to weave together, practically healing the cut.

She had subconsciously used the Regeneration Program built into her body. Violette stared frightened at the cut. Her newly acquired knowledge told her that wasn't normal for a human being. This scared her very much. Rouge held the hand, eying.

"It's okay. It's normal... Well, normal to you and me, anyway." He told her, consoling her. She looked up at him, confused. "Here, look at this..." He held out the cut arm to her.

The flesh wove together, sealing the wound. "There, nothing left." He prodded his arm with his finger, showing no cut. She stared, blinking.

Reaching out and prodding the place the wound once was, there was no damage, but a slight scar. The two of them really were similar, in some way, and not just of circumstance. Her trust of him grew slightly, but not significantly. If he was trying to garner her trust, then he'd have to earn it by trying harder.

...

Though maybe she should lower her expectations, after all, she did stab him and he had even forgiven him after that...

"So... What do you plan to do?" Histoire asked her. "It's your life; I can't control that, but... What do you want to do?"

"... I want to live." She decided. She wanted to experience what life had to offer.

"I'm glad she can have this choice." She heard Rouge murmur to Histoire.

"So am I... You're responsible for her, you know that?"

"So are you... So yeah, I guess we are..." Rouge patted her head, this time met with no resistance. She liked it this time around. She looked into his eyes once again.

The same brotherly compassion radiated from him, the feeling of a sibling-like connection was re-established between them. They were similar, alike in many aspects. Did that make them family? Did that make the little girl sitting on a floating book her family as well?

"Are you my mommy?" She asked Histoire.

"Er, no. CPUs aren't born, they're made." She explained, rubbing her forehead. "Neptune still wants to call me Mom though..."

"..." This put a dent in her logic. "Then is he my brother?" She pointed to Rouge.

"... Technically speaking, yes... Biologically speaking, no..."

She looked at Rouge again. He smiled at that. "I guess we can live with that..." He whistled.

She stared at him. She prodded him once with her finger, to see if this was real. Then she pinched herself. This was no dream.

And her AI informed her that this was no simulation... This was real. Very real. 100% true, harsh and wonderful reality...

Her stomach grumbled with a thunderous sound. "So, you hungry?" He grinned at her. She nodded sheepishly, holding her stomach.

He held out his hand. "Let's go get you something to eat. I bet everyone else is dying to meet you." He chuckled a bit at the sarcasm of his words. Precaution danced in his eyes, but disappeared in a flash of mirth.

Though the feeling of precaution still lingered, Rouge still held out his hand. She had to commend him, for his courage and his audacity. Courageous, for offering participation in such an action with a person, er, child, who could kill him easily behind his back, and very audacious, for actually having the nerve to assume her newly installed pride would let her do such a thing. Her conscious and sentience put her thoughts as this: I'm a big girl, damn it! I won't stoop this low!

She was eight! Or at least her body was that of an eight year old... Her conscious was only hours old, but her installed maturity was that of a middle aged woman. Then again, eight year old body here.

She decided to amuse him. And give herself a shot at being her body's age. She gingerly reached out for his hand. The much bigger hand enveloped hers.

It was a warm, caring gesture. But for some reason, she loved it. "Shall we go?" She nodded at his question, a strange twitch to her face.

Her databanks called it a "smile". A physical display of the reaction to positive emotion, or so the AI told her. It was a pleasant feeling. Maybe she would do this more often, this "smile" thing.

She smiled widely as Rouge led her out of the room, Histoire following behind. She would continue to smile as he led her to new experiences, new emotions... She would continue to smile for a long time. She expected a lot to come from her relationship with her "family".

And she expected a lot to come from her new life.


Chapter 2 Complete! Not much to say here. The story will pick up even more next chapter, with much more action, drama, etc...And so, R/R, enjoy life, read great fiction, and let the creative juices flow. And not only for you lemon writers. Aw well. – EthernalRain