Overclocked Chaos Route Eighth Day, Naoya's Version (no killing humans). AU where Abel doesn't go to the demon world after fighting Metatron but stays in order to stay with his friends/focus on defending earth/make sure humanity gets demon tech so its armies are up to spec enough to fight angels if they attack while he's gone.

I wanted to do a counterpoint to Homecoming, so this.

"Don't think I don't know what you're doing, Naoya," Abel said as soon as they were alone in one of the rooms of the hotel Fushimi had taken over as his unit's base of operations inside the lockdown.

Naoya smiled: his brother had frowned all through the meeting with Fushimi, tapping his foot and clearly waiting until they were done so he could have a word with Naoya about how rude he was being. "Oh?"

"I'm the King of Bel now. I'm not your helpless, ignorant little cousin anymore. You don't have to draw all the fire for me. Not anymore. You've set this up so that they'll blame you for the program, the War of Bel, everything. The demands you just made," even though Naoya had stated them as facts, the nature of the facts demanded that the Japanese government take certain actions. "You wanted Fushimi to get angry at you and forget that I'm the Overlord. That you were making those demands in my name. All the credit for using the power of Bel to send the demons away and order them not to attack anyone, the power you helped me get: you're giving it all to me when without your demon summoning program, without the harmonizer? If it weren't for you, the Lockdown would have done nothing! Everyone in the Lockdown and the JSDF would have been slaughtered when the demons and angels fought. They would have been helpless without you! Even the people who didn't use comps were protected by the harmonizer. You were a jerk about it, but you're the hero, Naoya, not me. You're the one who set all this up, made sure that the world would survive the Ordeal and the Bel demons! And now you're playing bad cop, making Fushimi think that you're a heartless monster instead of the man who saved our world, to protect me!" Abel glared at him.

"I'm surprised you figured that out." Naoya smiled down at him and Abel frowned.

Grabbed the front of his shirt and pushed him up against the wall. "No more, do you hear me Naoya? I am the Overlord, and this is my decision." Just like every other decision was up to him, Naoya yielding command to him so gracefully – No, it was that he'd accepted Naoya's help. "I'm a king, aren't I? I need to learn to talk to the government myself. I'm not five anymore: I'm not going to hide behind your legs while you get in trouble for beating up the bullies for me!"

"That would undermine your authority." Naoya looked pleased.

Abel wasn't. "This isn't just about my authority! It's about you! The angels know that you're Cain: if they mentioned that to us yesterday and again today, there's no way they won't tell the government to use it against us. If they haven't already."

A flash of something in Naoya's eyes, even if it wasn't the remorse that Abel hoped for. "So you understood what they were blabbering about."

"Abel, abel, it's not like it was hard to look up."

"Ah: that's what you were talking about with Haru, was it?" Naoya murmured. "Clever, cousin. I thought that with the internet unavailable inside the lockdown, it wouldn't occur to Atsuro to visit a library."

"One of the Shomonkai mentioned that Jezebel was in the bible, so… And then there's what Lucifer said. All of the books on demons were checked out, but they still had copies of the Bible." The story of Cain and Abel was pretty close to the beginning. "I came back as a demon because I was angry at God, didn't I? And then the King of Bel that was killed and his soul was scattered to the demon realm, that was me. Or the rest of me. I was a Bel all along: you knew those demons were coming for me, you did all this to protect me, and you…" Abel shook Naoya, hard. "You can't take all of this on yourself! I'm your brother, aren't I? You can't take all this on yourself! Not anymore, I won't let you! Let me protect you too!"

"Cousin," Naoya said, fond and condescending, "When you've regained your power and knowledge as the King of Bel, then you can say things like that. Until then, you're my cousin. Just another child of this modern age, who knew so little of conflict and hardship until now. You are the overlord, so I will obey your commands, but cousin? I will still find some way to keep protecting you, because for now you need it." He looked down at Abel's frustrated blue eyes and smiled. "Don't worry: I'm looking forward to the time you'll be strong enough to protect yourself."

"I'm not talking about protecting myself, I'm talking about protecting you! You might remember everything but you're still human, and even though the angels are making it clear what bastards they are, the government is still going to want someone to blame! You saved the world, Naoya… Is that what this is about? You don't think you deserved the credit because what? Because you're Cain? Because you killed me? I don't care! I forgive you, Naoya! No, I forgave you long ago! It doesn't even matter, next to everything else! If you were just trying to use me, you wouldn't want me to get the memories on Babel back! You can predict what people will do because you've watched them for so long: if I was an immortal king, then I could read you, couldn't I? I can already read you! You act like a jerk, and maybe it does run in the family," all those angels, "but there are so many people who are only alive right now because of you! I can't, I won't… You've been working so hard, looking after me all this time: I'm not letting you do this now, let them think you're evil to make me look good, and I know I didn't do it back then!"

And Naoya just that a sort of nostalgic smile on his face, like Abel was being a silly child and it was cute, and even if it was true, even if he was a child right now compared to Naoya who must have been doing this for thousands of years, since the fall of Babel was ancient history? What made it worse was that the smile was sort of wistful, as though Abel was clearly speaking delusional nonsense and Naoya wanted to humor him, wanted there to be a chance in hell that Abel was right?

"We are going back in there and you are going to explain yourself to Commander Fushimi, and properly, or I'll do it for you! And we both know that will just make it look like I'm under your thumb and can't figure out that you're evil, so if you care about not undermining me, then you'll explain what would have happened if you hadn't made the comps! I'm going to become a demon king, but you're human, Naoya! I know that you're good, but I'm not letting people blame you for this! For the demons, or the lockdown, any of it! If it weren't for the lockdown the demons would have escaped, if it weren't for the program everyone would have been helpless… This is my fault, for drawing them here, isn't it?" Because they needed his fragment of Bel to summon Babel. "And God's! Naoya, you're just, just a human, and you've been fighting alone all this time…"

"It is rather tiring, to be the only responsible adult on a planet filled with billions of toddlers who die of so-called 'old age' thanks to God's curses before they have a chance to experience enough of the world to learn any common sense. Fools leading fools, the kind of fool who would knuckle under to the angels, and now they have those things called nuclear weapons. Last century would have been very stressful and busy even if I didn't have the War of Bel to prepare for. But," Naoya said, "Soon. You're right, you wouldn't let them think of me as your murderer then, either. You… You were always there, when I was reborn, in the kingdom you protected. You protected me, protected humanity from the angels, made us masters of the demons. You will restore your kingdom, brother. Oh, don't make that face. I know you don't like the idea of killing your subjects. Our nieces and nephews. But we both know you won't leave this world in the hands of incompetents. It's only a matter of time until this world unites under you to defend ourselves from him and his angels, to undo the curses he placed upon us so it's no longer a miracle for a human to see even a single century!"

"And where will you be in all this, Qin?" Abel asked. "Are you planning to let someone kill you? Call you a monster and murderer and kill you, because I won't?" Because that was what Qin thought he deserved?

Red eyes smirked down at him. "Well, that would be one way to catch up on my sleep."

"Letting yourself be a scapegoat, since Amane's father died: and he's someone else that should be hailed as a hero! He fought to save this world from the ordeal, even if the part of me that was Belberith… But I would have awakened inside him eventually, wouldn't I? And the years until I did would still have been better than the ordeal."

"I never wanted Belberith to win, brother." Naoya, Qin snorted. "He would have blackened your good name. Marred the reputation of the King of Bel, god of humanity, when our grandfather has already committed libel and slander against you, even while the angels praised you as the 'good' brother, because you shed blood in the name of God." Thinking of their hypocrisy made Naoya want to kill them even more! "Although if worst came to worst, he could have survived the final option, and he would have used your armies to defend your world from the angels, if only to hold on to his conquest. But to let humans pray to him to be saved from you… They might be young and ignorant, they might not know that God's true nature is cruelty, but I knew that you would blame yourself for every human that died under Belberith's rule as King of Bel, before you became yourself again and restored our freedom and safety. I never would have let him win."

"That's a relief," Abel said, and leaned his head against Naoya's chest, gripping his brother's arms. Suddenly it felt as though the room tilted around him, because this was all wrong. Naoya was shorter than he was, he'd meant to pull Qin to lean against him… hadn't he? "I think, I think it's beginning."

Naoya's arms were out of Abel's grip in an instant, wrapping around his little brother in case he needed to hold him up. "Do you need to lie down?"

"I feel… confused. Not dizzy." Or maybe he was wrong about that, Abel thought as he tried to step back from Naoya and wobbled a bit.

"You should sleep. That should help the memories integrate. I'd hoped that you would wake up your old self again this morning, but this is still faster than I really anticipated. Perhaps we have a chance to catch the angels off-guard."

Abel nodded as Naoya led him to the bed. "This feels familiar. But shouldn't I be the one telling you to sleep? Staying up all night studying, and you'd tire yourself out because you kept forgetting humans weren't as durable as they used to be anymore…" Blue eyes had already closed, letting Naoya pull back the covers for him and guide him to sit and then lie down. "You need your sleep too, Qin."

"Someone needs to keep watch," Naoya reminded him. "This is their last chance: once you regain your true power you'll be far stronger than I am once again. Metatron may call himself the lesser tetragramaton, akin to god, but you, brother… If they hadn't lured you into their realm with false promises of peace, if they hadn't threatened your people… I won't fail to protect you this time." He smoothed back Abel's blue hair. "I'll call for Atsuro and the others."

"You're… letting them protect me? That's what you did during the lockdown," Abel said hazily. Let Atsuro and Yuzu protect Abel while Naoya gathered information, made warded areas and managed everything.

"Safety in numbers, after all." If it came to it, Naoya wouldn't hesistate to order them to hold off the angels while he ran with his brother back to the area he'd warded, but no need to mention that even Atsuro was disposable.

Humans died so quickly and so young now. That was the only way he could think of them, when Naoya's new bodies and the humans around him wore out so quickly and he could have to replace them on a moment's notice. Now, though with the harmonizer active? At least he didn't need to worry about Atsuro tripping and falling down the stairs. Not when they had healing magic.

Perhaps, perhaps he should mend the reputation of his comps, at least. Restoring healing magic to the world would do so much, and it would let people see that the power of demons was far from evil. That was simply heavenly propaganda, meant to keep humanity weak and ignorant.

Naoya opened the door only long enough to beckon one of the soldiers in the hall over, almost like he would have beckoned a palace servant back then. The thought made him smile. "Would you have Atsuro and Yuzu brought here?" He might have phrased that as a request, but of course it was an order. "Oh? Hmm, now where have I seen you before?"

Naoya waited until after they had opened fire to unleash his magic on them. It wasn't as though their pitiful attacks did much damage. For his part, he focused on eliminating their demons. Better to have prisoners than have to ask them to take his word that the dead bodies had shot first.

"What's going on?" Captain Izuna asked, running into the hall.

"Retreat!" the commander of this small group ordered.

"These men were killing innocent demon tamers inside the lockdown, hoping that if they murdered all the others they would be allowed to go free! They attacked my brother twice," Naoya told her. "So much for the safety of your roof."

"The demon king has to die so that we can be saved!"

"Oh, shut up," Naoya was not in the mood for this. "You already know that the angels were plotting to murder you, and if the King of Bel's forces withdrew from this city, they'd carry out those plans. Deluding yourselves into turning on your fellow man in god's name, betraying humanity so that you can be spared: people like you make me sick!" He didn't need to look at his phone to enter the command to cast megidolaon.

"Are you alright?" Izuna asked when they'd finished off the last of them with the assistance of some non-tamer squads and their only-mostly-useless bullets. Well, at least they'd kept the SDF tamers from escaping.


"I'm asking about you as an ally," she reminded him. "We fought Metatron together, even if you are insufferable." Even if that battle revealed that he was Cain. Yes, the word of an enemy couldn't be trusted, but Naoya hadn't denied it.

"I'm fine." Mediarahan had already dealt with the wounds they'd managed to inflict while he was going easy on them. "My brother, however, is tired. Very tired, if all this racket didn't wake him up." Of course, he must have gotten used to ignoring the sounds of a demon-infested city so he could get any sleep at all during the lockdown. He and his friends had the sense to have people keep watch in shifts while the others slept, so he might just have trusted that Naoya would call for him if he was in any real danger. "Perhaps this is the last time he'll need my protection," Naoya said to himself, closing his eyes for a moment and folding his arms in the sleeves of his haori. "Hmm, I miss it already."

Opening his eyes again to look at her, he asked, "Will you send one of your men to fetch Atsuro and Yuzu? Nurse Mari might be useful as well." Naoya tried to keep current with medical knowledge, but when he had to focus on computer science and physics for the sake of the demon summoning program? There was so much being discovered now that it was hard for even him to keep up, while Mari was a licensed nurse. Knowing when to delegate, when to consult an expert: he'd mastered those skills millennia ago. Normally he was the expert, but humans knowing things that he didn't? He should take advantage of that, and try to make it last by keeping the angels from crushing their civilization again.

"Why? Is he sick?" Izuna asked, after gesturing for one of her men to go look for those three.

"No, he's not about to transform into a demon," Naoya said, answering her real question. "If anything like that was going to happen, it would have happened while his power was still imbalanced, because he hadn't regained all the pieces of the power of Bel. Human form is the true form of the King of Bel. He might have intended him to be king of the demons, but Abel is our king."

"Our king? What do you mean, my king?" Izuna asked with a raised eyebrow. "He said he wasn't going to conquer Japan." Although what Naoya said after that: were Abel's intentions going to change? He was a good kid, that was why Izuna had stood up for him and fought beside them.

"He was the ruler of the human race for thousands of years, our defender against the angels and uncivilized demons. Forgive me for falling into old habits of speech," Naoya said, leaning beside the door to Abel's room.

"You want him to take us over, don't you?" she accused him.

He laughed. "Can you blame me? After your government submitted to the angels, took their word at face value? When you would have murdered all the people inside the lockdown for nothing? Don't misunderstand: I'm not arguing that the lockdown was unnecessary, just that the final option was useless. Without the lockdown, far more people would have died, between the Bel demons and the angels. That's why I tipped you off that the Shomonkai would be gathering together and distributing comps among their members on that day."

Izuna almost took a step back. "That was you?!" Yes, some of the Shomonkai had defected to give them information after the lockdown started, including one of Naoya's underlings on the programming team, but they hadn't managed to identify who gave them the all-important warning.

"You kept the demons contained, and the angels mostly focused on one place instead of swarming the entire earth. If it weren't for the lockdown, well." Izuna knew why she'd fought to enforce the lockdown: she didn't need him to tell her that. "Didn't Atsuro already guess that I knew the lockdown would happen? It was in the Laplace Mail, after all. That's why I called the three of them into the city and gave them their comps here. The War of Bel would have come to earth even without my help, or the Shomonkai's. So, I worked to minimize the damage. This way, the Bel demons had to hurry to Earth, and they were forced to leave most of their armies behind. If I'd waited even six months, Belberith would have won the war in the demon world, and taken his time to invade in full force to scour the entire earth, searching for my brother. Instead, Beldr and Belial barely brought a token guard." How very foolish of them.

"So, you were luring them here so that your brother could kill them?"

"Yes, so that he would regain his power in time to defend us against the angels' Ordeal." Naoya closed his eyes, speaking self-depreciatingly. "It seems I cut it a little close: I didn't think Metatron would be able to convince the four archangels to use God's Thunder on us that quickly. Unlike most of their brethren, they're old enough to remember walking among humans as our inferiors, since we're the true children of god, instead of deluding themselves into thinking spineless bootlickers like them are the superior race."

"You said Metatron was human once, wasn't he?"

"That traitor…" Naoya scowled at the thought of him. "We knew he had God's favor, and I even thought that might be a good thing! That speaking with humans again might make him learn some real mercy and compassion! I should have looked closer at what kind of man Enoch was. I knew he must have a honeyed tongue if he could convince God to speak with him as an equal, as in the old days, but all he cared about were God's love and the power it could give him. Who would want to be turned into an angel, to have their free will stripped from them? What real human could be happy with an existence like that, eternal or not?"

"Who's we?"

"My brother and I. Although he didn't establish his kingdom on earth until after the flood, to help the survivors defend themselves and build new homes, he had already become king of the demons."

"You're much forthcoming than you were before."

He gave her a mocking half-bow as acknowledgement. "I suppose at the end of the day we're all someone's dog." Hmm, government lackey? He smiled at her. "He is the Overlord, after all. His wish is my command."

"Aren't you the older one?" she wondered.

"It's not as though this is a matter of inheritance. He earned his power on his own." Naoya smirked. "Oh, the angels have claimed that this was God's plan from the beginning, but even if that were true, it's very like God to choose him instead of me for this. I was never his favorite: Father thought he resented that I took Father and Mother's attention away from him after I was born. By the time Abel was born, I was old enough to help look after the new child, so my father was free to walk with Grandfather whenever he wished, in the interests of reconciliation." Naoya snorted: a lot of good that had done.

"Your parents? Adam and Eve?"

He nodded. "Not that those were their names, of course."

"What do you mean?"

"Our names were in the Primal Common Tongue," he reminded her. "So Abel and I: we lost our true names and those of our parents when the common tongue was taken from us. 'Abel' is my brother's title, and I chose the name Qin because 'smith' was mine." He smiled as if at some private joke.


"The true names of the children of god would be quite a power to conjure by, just like his true name. Making everyone forgot those names has certainly been to his advantage… If I still had my brother's true name, I could have bound the Bel demons and forced them to give up their fragments of his soul, and none of this would have been necessary. Of course, if the Primal Common Tongue wasn't stolen from us, and my brother wasn't killed, and the world's cities weren't burned to the ground and their people slaughtered: if it weren't for all of the angels and their crimes, there would be no need to go to war."

"And you want us to join you in your war?"

"My war?" Naoya laughed, "My… Well, that's all right. Children should stay behind where it's safe."

Izuna was trying to remain calm and get information out of him, she'd managed it with the Shomonkai, but she still couldn't help but point out, "How old is Yuzu?"

"Old enough to be an adult, by the standards of most human cultures after we were cursed to age and die. By the standards of the time before that? Everyone in Tokyo is a child. To be fair to your government, it's not as though humans live long enough to develop any common sense anymore. In my eyes, Captain Izuna, all of you are children, and all soldiers are child soldiers." Smiling, he glanced significantly at her gun. "Didn't you wonder why I programmed the harmonizer to protect everyone in range, even the SDF forces aiding the angels and the witch-hunters who were attacking tamers? It drains the comps' battery much faster that way." He closed his eyes. "It would have suited the Shomonkai's purposes much better for the comp users to be the only ones who could survive against demons, but none of them knew enough even to suggest that the harmonizer be treated as an additional auto skill, among other options. Even if I'd kept the harmonizer effect as a ranged broadcast constantly generating a Charge effect on all human targets in range, decreasing the range would have greatly extended the comps' battery life. I ended up having to go to a lot of expense to make sure there would be enough compatible hand-powered battery chargers inside the Yamanote Loop."

"…that shipment, and…" They should have realized it wasn't the Shomonkai who were responsible for the back-alley charger dealers that suddenly appeared. No, if it was them then it would have been Azuma and the other Shomonkai obeying the Founder's orders to spread the comps selling them, not a lot of small-time thugs normally selling whatever fell off the back of a truck who had gotten… an… e-mail. An e-mail from a mysterious benefactor. "How long have you been planning this for?"

"I've known that the War of Bel was coming for a thousand years, and the angels are always looking for an excuse to inflict another ordeal on us. As for the specific details… I discovered the Shomonkai a little after the Founder performed that ritual to seal Jezebel into his daughter: Of course I kept close track of the Bel demons, but it was a surprise to find that someone else had realized that there was another ordeal coming and how much trouble humanity was in… A pity he failed to realize that just because Belberith was a piece of the King of Bel, that didn't mean he was anywhere near as benevolent as my brother. A human, sacrificed to an uncaring god… that's always a tragedy." Of course the reference to his brother's death went right over her head.

"Naoya!" Izuna and Naoya turned to see Atsuro running up to them, followed closely by Yuzu. Kaido had followed Mari, of course, stalking along behind her and glowering. "Is Abel alright?"

Instead of answering Naoya opened the door and swept into the room, letting them follow, because if something had happened to Abel while he was standing in the hall dealing with small fry?

He relaxed when he saw his brother's sleeping face, smiling down at him and deftly plucking the headphones off his head without disturbing him. He'd fallen asleep wearing them so many times. "I'm rather tired myself. Atsuro, I'll be counting on you to keep watch."

"Keep watch?" Atsuro asked. Yeah, that was what they'd done in the lockdown, but "Here?" Wasn't saying that an insult to Izuna or something?

"Didn't you see the bulletholes in the hall there?" Or had Atsuro just gotten so used to bulletholes and clawmarks that he had dismissed them as just part of the décor? "Even if we've driven Metatron away for now, it wasn't that long ago that humans obeyed his orders to kill my brother. If you don't keep watch, I will."

"That's okay, Naoya," Atsuro said, looking a little worried. So, he'd finally realized that Naoya wouldn't say he wanted to take a nap while Abel was also asleep in the middle of the day, which was weird, unless his teacher was really tired.

It had been weird to watch Naoya sleeping last night, while Atsuro was the one keeping watch. He'd slept on the grass near Abel, guarding his brother's back.

It wasn't that he'd looked innocent or anything like that. Peaceful, yes, but more a meditative peace than a child's. He definitely hadn't looked like an angel. Angels all looked creepy.

Maybe, Atsuro thought, the way to put it was what when Naoya was asleep, that might be the only time you could mistake him for a normal person?

"Wake me if there's any news from Commander Fushimi, or anything else I should know about," Naoya told him, his geta already kicked off and glasses placed on the bedside table. He wasn't removing his haori, not when it had the pocket with his comp.

Yuzu looked askance at the programmer. "You're going to sleep in the same bed as him?" There were two big beds in this room, but although Naoya had put his stuff on the table between the two beds, it was closer to the bed Abel was sleeping on.

"We are brothers," Naoya reminded her, tying back his hair. "If I slept in the other bed, I might not notice when he wakes up. This way, he won't be able to get up without alerting me." Shifting his weight would shift the mattress. "If he sees me sleeping, he'll try not to wake me up. You're tired yourself, aren't you?" he knew she must be, after running around all day first to follow them and then to rally support, topping it off with the battle against Metatron. "Use whichever bed you like, it won't bother me. I'm sure he won't mind. You're Abel's friend and Atsuro is my student: the two of you are practically family."

Seeing their blushing faces made him smile: such cute children they were.

"So, this is where you guys went."

"Oh, hello Haru."

"Sssh," Naoya told her, pressing a finger to his lips as he sat down on the bed. "You wouldn't want to wake my little brother, would you?"

"So even demon lords need their beauty rest, huh?" Haru leaned against the wall, looking very much like a creature that belonged in a hotel room like this. She knew it, too.

"Demon Overlord," Naoya corrected her. "Although King of Kings would be a better translation. King of Kings, God of Gods." He looked her over, and was pleased enough with what he saw to make Atsuro stare.

Naoya? Checking someone out? His teacher Naoya?

"Your eyes are still golden, and your canines aren't any longer: Any sudden cravings?" he asked her.

"I would kill for some strawberries, but all the fruit in the lockdown either got eaten or spoiled on like the first day, so I wouldn't say that's sudden," Haru said, raising an eyebrow at him.

He nodded. "Perfectly natural. Any power that bled over shouldn't have given you any demonic traits, but developing a craving for magatsuhi was possible."

"What's magatsuhi?" Yuzu asked. It sounded a little like magnetite.

"Not strawberries," was all he said to Yuzu, answering her without even looking at her as he continued to examine Haru. He was smiling, so it couldn't be anything bad, right? "I'd offer you one of the beds as well, but I'm sure you're looking forward to becoming nocturnal again, now that the blackout's over and the electric lights are working again."

Haru smiled right back at him. "So you're as good at reading people as everyone says."

"I am, but Azuma also had you under observation on behalf of the Shomonkai. If anything happened to Aya, you were the other who could use the Primal Common Tongue. I left that comp at Gin's bar… for several reasons, some of which didn't pan out." Not that it really bothered him. "Haven't you wondered why all the demons could sense your power? Not just your music: your power."

The singer arched an eyebrow at him. "Are you saying that I'm a Bel demon?"

"No, you're not a Bel demon. Since you're the one who looked up the story of Cain and Abel for my brother, I'm sure you can find this out for yourself as well." If she had the free time to poke into other people's business, then she could spend it looking into her own.

"The way you said that…" Haru assumed a thoughtful pose, resting her chin on the fingers of one of her hands. "Is it that I'm not a bel demon or not a bel demon?"

"As expected of you," Naoya said, pleased. "Or rather, as expected of a piece of my brother." It wasn't as thought he was going to expect much of Haru herself, Aya's apprentice or not.

"So Remiel was telling the truth, and there were more people that could become the King of Bel?" Atsuro asked.

"The angels always tell the truth. God's truth, that is. There are two. Abel," Naoya indicated the boy sleeping in the bed. "And Abel's rib. If you were the one to absorb Belial when he was killed," he told Haru, "then my brother wouldn't have been qualified to meet Babel, and he would have had to wait another thousand years for the next opportunity to be whole." Naoya had considered doing something when the Laplace Mail predicted that Belial would kill Haru, knowing that Abel would fight Belial in order to prevent her death, but Abel had already killed Beldr. Since he had the stronger power of Bel, Belial's soul would have been drawn towards him, and when Haru feared and rejected her power since she thought she was the cause of the lockdown? It was safe enough, safer than trying to remove Haru from there himself and running the risk of Belial pursuing them instead of fighting Kazuya. If Naoya was forced to kill Belial in self-defense (Bel demons were nothing to take lightly) then that precious soul fragment would certainly have ended up in Haru.

"Unless he killed me, right? Belberith killed all those other Bels, and then Abel got their power when he killed him." Haru pushed herself off the wall she'd leaned against, posing languidly, to saunter over to Naoya.

"Do you really think my brother would have done that? If Azuma captured you and took you to Belberith, now… That's why Belberith had the Founder send Aya into the demon world. A woman who could use the Primal Common Tongue: he thought she was you."

Haru shut him up by leaning down, putting a hand on his chin and tilting it up for a kiss. Atsuro and Yuzu were shocked, all the more because they could see that Naoya had opened his mouth in anticipation of the kiss, instead of pressing his thin lips together and feigning boredom.

When the two of them pulled apart, Haru smiled down at him and said, voice a husky purr, "You've got that same dangerous scent about you that he does. Maybe even more. I thought when I met him that he longed for death too, but that wasn't it. You've both stared death in the face and come out the other side, haven't you? I could get so many songs out of you."

Naoya pressed a finger to her lips. "A pity, then, that accursed ones certainly do need their beauty sleep." He moved his hand, first to cup her face as he looked into her golden eyes…

And then to pat her on the head. "It's also pitiful that all of them took that seriously. Atsuro I'd expect it from, and Yuzu is a romantic, but really, Captain Izuna. Is everyone in the employ of the Japanese government so gullible?" He glanced at her, smirking. "A rhetorical question, of course." When they would have destroyed their own capital on the angels' say-so.

"You knew that thing would kill Aya and you didn't do anything to help her," Haru said, still smiling, but the atmosphere of the room was suddenly cold enough Yuzu almost shivered. Haru…

"Belberith didn't kill her: she didn't last even that long. Humans can't survive in the demon world. Yes, I knew Aya was going to die. I knew a lot of people were going to die. I gave her a chance to survive by giving her lover a comp that would let him fight Azuma. I gave the people of Tokyo a chance to survive by creating the harmonizer. But we both know that I'm still a bastard. What can I say? It runs in the family." He leaned back against the headboard, not to get away from the looming Haru but rather to show his unconcern. And that he was going to go to sleep, not answer to her. She was only a piece of his brother, not the King of Bel. "Summoning demons to fight the Shomonkai, Jezebel and the demons they would have summoned to fight me before the lockdown was put in place: I judged it an unacceptable risk. I can't say that I regret not taking that risk, or that I regret anything at all. Your Aya died and my brother didn't. So I'm rather happy with how things turned out, all things considered."

"You're trying to goad me into something, aren't you?" Haru mused, resting a hand on her hip and tapping one of her fingers against the slit in her dress as she thought. "My synthesizer is up and running again: I know I can't win against you, but what would happen if I used her music to cast you into the demon world."

Naoya said, "I'd die," not bothered at all by the idea. "If my brother decides to stay in this world instead of taking the war to the demon realm, I might become a hindrance to him. If that happens, well." He smiled to himself as he turned to draw his legs up onto the bed and lie down. "My brother has standing permission to kill me." That applied to her as well.

An annoyed sound came from Abel. Naoya froze for a moment, but when Abel showed no other signs of being woken up by their conversation, he smiled and stroked his brother's hair. They didn't look very much alike, Naoya's pigmentless, translucent hair that was white by virtue of the absence of color contrasted with Abel's, a black so dark, so saturated with color it seemed almost midnight blue.

"Rest, brother," Naoya told him, drawing Abel into his arms, Abel's back against his chest so any dagger that tried to stab it would have to go through Naoya. "Let me look after you this one last time, as you come back to yourself."

Let Naoya watch over him this one last time, as the King of Bel had watched over him in so many ages.

Let Naoya be there when his brother woke up, finally himself again, finally whole, to welcome him back.

If you pick a route where Abel doesn't get all of his soul back, Naoya will make references to trying again in a thousand years. It's possible that Yuzu's route, etc., aren't the only times that the War of Bel failed to produce a victor. If Abel hadn't ascended as King of Bel and become complete, it's possible that all the pieces he already absorbed would have been released on his death, to start fighting each other in the demon world again.