I have no excuse for this fic, especially since I haven't picked the 'Tell me about Aya' option on one of Gin's e-mails since I'm a perfectionist and want to keep a recent-as-possible pre-choice save file with all routes open (although I'll need to make another one so it'll contain that I beat Lucifer) & I'm just basing this on the rest of the stuff Gin and Haru say.

Liberties taken with the order of events on the first day. Some liberty with Haru's character taken because under these circumstances she wouldn't blame herself for the demon outbreak and wouldn't be suicidal.

And, of course, worldbuilding used to justify putting two characters who never interact during the game in a relationship solely because the author thought it would be hot. Smoking hot, as Shoji would say. Well, the pairing is crack. The worldbuilding is… also crack, but crack I've actually thought about.

Normally I play through having Abel be genre savvy/aware of his past as Abel, but for this fic I decided to go with the whole thing in Amane's Eighth about how no one else remembers what Naoya does, no one understands what he's experienced, and how lonely it makes him to be fighting a war on behalf of people who compared to him are children a fraction of his age: he's not a demon, an angel or a god, just a human, but unless we do a Highlander crossover there aren't any other humans who he can really deal with as equals (unless Kazuya becomes the King of Bel again and regains the memories in Babel).

Because of that, I had to create a character for Kazuya, and a lot of it came out of what Atsuro keeps saying when people (especially Kaido) meet Naoya or point out that what he's done is incredible – that it actually is immediately obvious that Naoya is not normal, and even Atsuro, who is a genius and used to him, still can't get him. So here's Kazuya, and his parents just took in someone who is older than he is but still an orphan (which is not a good thing to be in Japan: often their relatives won't contact them ever, forget taking them in), and Kazuya would have wanted to draw him into the circle the way he does a lot of characters in the game: Kazuya is pretty clearly someone who looks after people. But he can't understand Naoya, although he tries, because he's a little kid and he's dealing with someone who, if you go with Judeo-Christian mythology's most commonly known creation myth (there are actually two in Genesis), only about, oh, five years younger than the universe? Kazuya's life experience at this point was likely more than the time Naoya hasn't experienced.

This chapter starts out in media res, and then it'll catch up to and finish game events. This was going to be a oneshot, but I realized that this gave me an opportunity to show some stuff about what Naoya and Gin experienced during the Lockdown, even in an AU form, that's kind of hard to do when they were on their own and not really interacting with anyone during those times.


"We're coming to save you, Haru!" Yuzu called across the demon-filled plaza.

Well, it was nice to have such loyal fans, but, "I'm okay, really," Haru said, hitting a few buttons and then the keys on her synthesizer. As Uzume and Lorelei appeared, she added, "I needed a break from working on that song anyway." She was just seriously, seriously blocked. What was Aya thinking, assigning her something like this? She wasn't good enough yet, and then the power went out.

"Wow, Haru, that was amazing!" Yuzu said once they'd cleared out the demons.

"How'd you summon demons without a comp?" One of the girl's friends said at the same time as her. "A synthesizer?"

"Hey, you're pretty good yourselves," Haru said, almost wanting to pull back her synthesizer. She was definitely getting fanboy vibes from this guy, and she didn't want him to lose control and start grabbing at the synthesizer Aya gave her or something. "Comps, huh? I thought you had to summon demons with song."

"Song?" Atsuro asked her.

"Yeah, the Primal Common Tongue or whatever," Haru said, shrugging.

"They called you the girl who knows the primal common tongue," the third one of their little group said, blue eyes looking at her curiously.

"Yeah. Hey, cute headphones. Guess they must have mistaken me for Aya, though. She's a lot better at it than I am, or she was until she hurt her throat…" Haru paused, red-orange eyes widening. "Wait, Aya!"

"Oh no, what if they've already captured her?" Yuzu realized. D-Va's founder and keyboard player!

"I haven't seen her in a few days… Gin said she and our new electronics guy were going to try to do some recordings, if her throat was up to it." But staying away from Gin's place this long? "Gin's been looking worried, too."

"New electrician?" Atsuro asked.

"Yeah, he did something to Aya's synthesizer so I could just plug it in instead of trying to find those old batteries for it. Lifesaver right now… Damn, the power's off."

"You can borrow our charger," Yuzu offered worriedly.

"Why don't I charge it right now while we talk," the other one offered, after a glance at Atsuro, who looked a little disappointed but didn't ask to take a look at it instead. "I think it should be safe here for awhile: we got rid of all of them."

"Yeah, we'll keep a lookout too," Yuzu agreed, sitting on one of the bleachers by her friend.

"You, what's your name again?" Haru asked, sitting on his other side. "I think it's Kazuya, but I might be getting it mixed up with someone else."

"No, it's Kazuya. Kazuya Minegeshi."

Haru snapped her fingers and pointed them at him. "Kazuya Minegeshi! You must his kid brother, the one with the headphones with better sound quality than our old set of speakers!"

He blinked at her. "Well, yeah, they are pretty good. My parents bought them for Naoya when he moved in with us, because his nickname used to be Nyao-chan. He took them apart and redid everything but the casing and gave them to me before he left. But you know Naoya?"

Haru nodded. "Yeah, he's our new electrician."

"Wow, seriously!" Yuzu exclaimed.

"Wow, you're lucky." Atsuro's eyes sparkled. Haru's band must be really good, if Naoya liked them.

Haru chuckled. "I think it's the Yas. People whose names end in –ya are good luck for me," she said, smiling at Kazuya.

Yuzu looked for a second that she might have gotten territorial, but eee, Haru! If Haru wanted to be near Kazuya, that meant Yuzu could hang out with them both! At the same time! Eee! Kazuya was the best!

"Wait," Haru realized. "He moved in with you? But he's got a matching name and everything. What happened, divorce or something?"

"No, he's my cousin. His parents died when I was little."

Haru winced in sympathy. "I could have sworn you were his kid brother. He talks about you like you are."

"Oooh, did he talk about me?" Atsuro asked. "Naoya's my teacher."

"Well, he did keep saying, 'my student could do a better job than this,'" but Haru thought he'd just meant that their old equipment had just sucked that badly. Atsuro still looked like someone who had just gotten Aya's autograph.

"Do you know where he is?" Kazuya asked. "We're looking for him."

"Maybe at Gin's bar?" Haru thought, pushing a stray bit of hair back behind her ear. "He's been pulling a lot of all-nighters there, because he had some big programming job to finish and he wanted to get our stuff done before the next concert. Gin's been letting him crash at the apartment upstairs because Aya's not there right now." So Naoya wasn't likely to walk in on anything the way Haru had by accident that time. And that other time. And… "Now that I think about it, it is kind of weird that he's been coming back at night and Aya hasn't been…" Oh god, what if she was in the hospital! Gin had looked a little worried lately, but not 'the woman who is not my wife only because she doesn't believe in that sort of thing has been kidnapped by demons!' worried, because if that happened Gin would be out there kicking ass. There was a reason he didn't need a bouncer. More annoyed he was having to wait and not wanting to worry Haru.

"Big programming job?" Kazuya asked, glancing at the others.

"Yeah, for the Shomonkai."

"So the Shomonkai are the third party the program was meant for!" Atsuro realized. "And he must have installed it into your synthesizer along with a wireless card!"

"What? No. Aya taught me to summon demons. She doesn't even need a synthesizer." Haru did, but that was because she was just Aya's student, main vocalist or not.

"So that's what the comps are copying?" Atsuro wondered. "If you're right, Abel, and demons are summoned by rituals…"

"Wait, Abel? I thought your name was Kazuya."

"Oh, that's my nickname," he said, shrugging. "You can use it if you want." If she didn't find it annoying to pronounce.

"And hers is Yoohoo," Atsuro said, pointing at Yuzu with a big grin on his face.

"Knock it off, Otakuro! It's Yuzu, Yu-zu! Don't try to trick Haru into using that stupid nickname!"

"Hey, what's wrong with being an otaku!" Atsuro demanded. "You're a Haru otaku! Harutaku!" He paused, grinning again.

"Oh no, don't even think about it!"

Abel and Haru somehow ended up looking at each other and sharing a grin. "Some friends you got here," she told him, amused.

"Yeah," he agreed. They were great. "I thought I saw Gin down by Shomonkai headquarters earlier."

"Yeah, let's check that out," Haru said, standing up as he handed her the synthesizer.

"Oh, wait!" Atsuro realized. "You can't see the death clock, can you?"

"Her number's the same as ours," Abel told him. "So we might be in the same danger anyway. I think it's better if we stick together."

"Yeah, we can't let anything happen to Haru… Wait, does this mean she's going to be coming with us?" Fighting demons with them? Singing in order to fight demons! Yuzu's eyes widened.

Suddenly, fighting demons became unimportant next to private concerts from Haru.

Oh. My. God.

"Death clock?" Haru asked. After getting an explanation from Abel and Atsuro, she said, "Well, I can't let you guys get killed, that's no way to repay the best tech guy we've ever had. I can't believe I was able to get sound like that out of a measly battery-powered amp earlier."


"Hey, Gin!" Yuzu called.

"Oh hey guys… Haru…" Gin looked away, at the Shomonkai building, obviously evasively. "I've, uh, got to go."

"After him!" Abel cried as Gin disappeared into an alley. They ran after him, only to run into more demons.

"We lost him." Yuzu scowled at herself.

"This is just like what happened with Naoya earlier," Atsuro said. "We went after him, then we ran into demons and he got away."

"I wonder if it's really a coincidence." Abel looked skeptically at one of the exits from the lot they were in. "Naoya e-mailed us just after that, and the waira showed up… I know I saw him when our comps summoned the first demons, too."

"You mean he told those demons to attack us?" Yuzu was outraged.

"Yeah. To slow us down, and to make sure we knew how to fight. He's up to something, so he can't babysit us all the time."

"If he's so worried about us, then why did he drag us into this anyway!" This time, Yuzu's demand for an answer was more annoyed and less outraged, the kind of familiar annoyance that came with telling Atsuro to stop calling her Yoohoo, dammit.

"And what's going on with those two?" Haru asked, hands on her hips. "If they're not telling me something about Aya…"

"Should we stake out the bar?" Atsuro wondered. "He's got to come back sometime, right? And maybe Naoya left some clues there."

"There's his apartment, too, if we can get past the police tape," Abel realized.

"Mind if we head to the bar first?" Haru asked.

"Sure, Haru!"

"Harutaku…" Atsuro muttered to Abel behind Yuzu's back.

"What was that?"

"Nothing!"


Haru had a key to the bar and the apartment above the bar, just like Abel had a key to Naoya's apartment. "Yeah, he's been staying here, alright," Abel knew, looking at the shoes in the entrance. "Those are his spare geta." He made Haru think of a hunter spotting a sign of his prey. She kind of liked that hint that there was more to him than there seemed, that he was dangerous in the same way Gin was. Really nice guys, both of them, but not people you'd want to mess with.

"Are those Aya's?" Yuzu asked, staring at three pairs of high heels. How could she walk in those?

"Yeah. I've always been kind of nervous about telling her to break a leg." When Haru's teacher wore shoes like that, it seemed like Haru should be careful what she wished for, because it was bound to happen one of these days.

"That's new," Haru knew as soon as they were inside.

"Yeah, that's got to be Naoya's rig," Atsuro agreed, sitting down in the chair. "Oh, damn, there's no power!"

"Gin's got a generator," Haru told him. "He said he just got it last week. He brought it down last night and hooked up to the fridge so everything didn't go bad." Wait.

"Last week," Abel said, clearly thinking the same thing she was. "And as soon as the blackout started?"

"Come on, let's go get it."

"Wait, Atsuro!" Yuzu said, grabbing his arm. "You saw how they were not handing out food." Tossing crates in, like they were animals in a cage. "We can't let all of Gin's stuff spoil!"

"Don't worry, Yuzu, taking it away for just a bit will be fine. If I can't do it in fifteen minutes, we'll move it down again and try again in a couple hours," Atsuro said.

"Are you sure that will work?" Yuzu asked Abel.

"Hey, who's the technical genius here, me or him?"

After Atsuro was settled with the generator, Abel told Yuzu that she could keep an eye on him while he and Haru looked for more clues. Yuzu agreed reluctantly: she didn't like the idea of just poking around in someone else's house, but Haru was allowed here and Abel knew what to look for, so if it was just the two of them that was better than bringing more people.

"This is a pretty big place, for Tokyo," Haru told him.

"Yeah, I've seen Naoya's apartment." And Abel knew what kind of fees Naoya charged, so the only reason he didn't have more space was probably because he didn't need any more. Naoya wasn't exactly Spartan, but he'd never really been one for having a lot of things. Well, that and Naoya liked the neighborhood, the trees. "How old is Gin?"

"Twenty-five," Haru said proudly. "And he already owns his own bar." Wasn't that awesome? "He and Aya have been together for a long time: D-Va isn't a house band, and they invite other people to give shows, but we've been moving up in the world fast." It still wasn't much compared to Harusawa's rich ex-family, but they'd earned it themselves.

"Naoya's twenty-four, and he's been working as a freelance programmer since he was younger than I am: he turns down contracts from all sorts of big corporations." Abel smiled as though this was a joke just between them. "Since we're talking about our families." Bragging, but they really were just that great, huh?

Haru held up her hands. "Oh, hey, Aya's just my teacher."

"And Naoya's just my cousin." Her point? "They're family to you, aren't they?"

"Well… I guess…" Haru was blushing a little, shyly, because she really wished they were her family but she hadn't quite dared to think of them that way. "It would be really cool if they were my parents," she said as she opened the door to the bedroom. Even though they weren't that much older than her.

The futon hadn't been put away and the sheets were messy, but that was perfectly normal. Getting the futon out took valuable time that could have been spent having sex, according to Aya, who had laughed at Haru's discomfort and given her a hug. Aya liked to easy it was to tease Haru. At least they'd changed the sheets after having sex when Haru had stayed here, before they could afford to pay her enough for her to have a place of her very own, that she'd earned herself.

The room smelled of Gin, his masculine scent and cologne, but instead of Aya's wildflower scent there was something else, something that smelled like cedar and sandalwood, that made the fledgling songwriter in her think of petrified wood: ancient, hard, cold, frozen in time but still with the color to it of living trees, proof that it had been alive and might be again.

While Haru thought of that, looked around to see not an area given over to Naoya's things but classic, elegant combs and clothing mixed in with Gin's and Aya's own things, a dressing gown tossed into the laundry heap with Gin's boxers, Abel knelt and picked something up off the pillows at the head of the bed.

"What's up?" Haru asked when she realized that he'd frozen.

He stood up slowly, then held that hand out to her, thumb and forefinger still pressing against each other to confine a longish silver hair and a shorter black one. He looked honestly shocked.

That was when it clicked for Haru, and she grabbed his hand to make sure she was seeing this right. Gin's hair and Naoya's hair on the same pillow. The room smelled of sex, of Gin and this guy's brother. It didn't smell of Aya. She hadn't been here in more than a week.

Haru didn't think, "Oh my god, my dad is cheating on my mom! With another man!" For one thing, her father had cheated on her mother. Often. With women, as far as Haru knew. Her mother had cheated on him, too. She didn't think, "Gin is cheating on Aya!" either, because that just wasn't going to happen. For one thing, Gin wasn't an idiot: it wouldn't be so obvious that he was having sex in a pad any of the band members could just let themselves into even with Aya gone if she had a problem with it.

Even though Haru was certain she was the only band member in town: Aya had booked the others to some class that wanted an instrumental rock background for improv song practice over in Kyoto.

This wasn't the first time they'd had a threesome, either. Haru had been very jealous of them for awhile until Gin and Aya sat her down and said that not only was she underage, she was Aya's precious student: none of them were going to replace her but the two of them weren't going to sleep with her, since that would hurt her independence. Not that Haru had cared about that at the time.

The shock was because Naoya had pretty obviously moved in. Not in the temporary crash sense, or they would have given him a place for his stuff. Like this, it would be practically impossible to find everything in order to pack up and move back to his place anytime soon.

That implied something more permanent than a one night stand, or when a friend was in town for the annual music festival. This was an actual addition to the, the family and they'd kept a secret from her.

Abel looked equally alarmed and disturbed when she looked up at him.

Haru tried to make a joke about it. "So, uh, I guess we're in-laws now?" Her smile was still strained. But Abel better not be thinking that this was Gin's fault or something.

"Why'd he have to pick now to develop a sex drive?" Abel asked her, not quite plaintively but with a, 'why does my brother have to keep doing this to me?' air of familiar, frustrated, baffled affection. Naoya was his big brother in every way that mattered, and he did love him dearly, and it bothered him that he couldn't understand Naoya, that even though Naoya looked after him, and Naoya definitely knew Abel cared, there was still this gap between them that he couldn't bridge. He just couldn't figure Naoya out, not what he was like underneath and not how to make him happy. "He doesn't even have any pornography! And he's the one that showed me and Atsuro how to find stuff that was actually good."

"Seriously?" Haru asked him, amazed. Aya was the one who had introduced her to the good stuff too, although that was as part of the talk. Aya had taught her what to actually expect and demand out of sex and Gin had done the threatening of would-be boyfriends, even though Haru had never really done anything but one-night stands. She'd never felt a connection to any of them the way she did to Aya.

And yet… She suddenly realized that she was still holding Abel's hand, but there wasn't any impulse to let go.

"I just don't get him," Abel confessed, and she knew he'd never admit this to anyone else. "And he refuses to tell me anything, like he's trying to protect me. At first I just thought it was losing his parents like that, and he didn't want me to understand what that was like, but, now there's this." The lockdown, the comps, the Laplace Mail. Lovers, maybe plural.

"I don't get Aya either?" Haru admitted with a shrug. "That's because she's Aya. She's like a force of nature."

Abel nodded: that was just what Naoya was like.

"It was a pretty big surprise when she said, 'Haru, I think now is a good time for you to learn how to summon demons.'" Haru had thought she was joking.

"He just gave us the comps and demons came out of them. But he was watching over us when it happened." Abel looked a little downcast. "He had this all planned out."

"Yeah, that's Aya too. She's a tricky one. She's one of those teachers that gives you assignments that contain hidden lessons, and she's really good at bargaining." At getting gigs no matter what, at coordinating a band made out of people she'd found on the streets, like Haru and Gin.

"I should be happy that he's found someone who understands him, but…" It should have been me.

"I should be happy that they've found someone else they like," maybe even love, "but…" Why couldn't it have been me?

The two of them jumped apart when Yuzu flung the door open. "Hey, guys, they've got internet here! And my mom says the outside's been taken over by angels!"

"What?" Abel demanded.

"Seriously?"

"Yeah, and they're the ones making our government do the lockdown!" Atsuro said, face pale. "If demons or even demon tamers get outside the lockdown, they won't leave! So the SDF will shoot anyone in here who tries to escape!" Atsuro had found that out from the conspiracy boards, not from Yuzu's mother. His usual boards had been shut down, probably by the governments: if he hadn't known a few codes and been able to figure out the hints of where to go…

Instead of complaining about Naoya dragging them into this, Yuzu was looking at Haru, biting her lip with worry.

"Gin had a death clock, the same as everyone else in here. I didn't get a clear enough look at Naoya to see if he had one." And Haru's was the same as theirs. "Aya and Naoya must have wanted us in here so they could keep us safe. If Naoya knew about demons, and I'm his cousin, and you're his apprentice…"

"Then the government or the angels might assume you knew how to summon demons even if you didn't," Yuzu whispered, then grimaced. Yeah, if Naoya had left her out of this, knowing that her two friends were stuck in the lockdown with demons rampaging and there was nothing she could do, she'd be even more furious with him. "I guess you were right, Atsuro." The comps were to let them fight the demons and change the death clock.

Abel glanced at the window. "I'm not sure we should stay here. Atsuro, do you know if they can figure out the net was accessed from within the lockdown?"

"You mean they could be coming for us?" Yuzu gasped.

Atsuro tried to act like normal. "Nah, don't worry, this is Naoya we're talking about. He wouldn't have set this rig up at someone's home if it would put them in danger, he'd have it hidden somewhere." No need to worry.

"Well, we should definitely come back here before it gets dark."

"Yeah," Atsuro agreed. "We don't have Amane to set up another ward."

"But the demons, and that weird guy who lied to us about calling his boss, and maybe that guy from the Shomonkai… they're all after Haru," Yuzu reminded them.

"So I shouldn't go back to my apartment, and Gin's is the next place they'd look if they know me. Mind if I hang with you guys?" she asked.

"Of course, Haru," Abel told her. "Maybe we can find you some different clothes…"

"Hey, what's wrong with what I have on?" she asked, leaning forward with her hands on her hips.

Quickly raising his eyes up to her face, he said, "They're fine, they're just… distinctive."

"Ah, I gotcha," she said, grinning.

"…You did that on purpose," he said, smiling with a hint of relief. At least she didn't mind: kind of like Midori, huh.

Maybe he should keep an eye out for Midori: just because she was popular online didn't necessarily mean she knew where any of her fans lived or could get in contact with them to get a place to stay. Her death clock, too…

"If Naoya and Gin come back," Yuzu said, "This will be the safest place to spend the night."

Atsuro agreed. "If they don't come back by midnight, then we should get out of here too, but…"

"It would be nice to sleep in a bed. And there's a steel drum contraption that looks like it's meant to heat up water downstairs, too," Yuzu said longingly. After sleeping on grass, she felt dirty, sweaty and a little itchy. "But the water isn't running inside."

"Too bad we can't use our demons to carry it from the park for us, huh Yuzu?" Atsuro asked.

Abel looked skeptical. "I'd be surprised if Naoya didn't think of that. You know how he is about keeping clean." And hot showers, since Naoya went for a run every morning.

"Yeah, remember what Miss Mari said about getting sick if we don't keep clean because of all this?" Atsuro agreed. "I'll start looking."

"Haru needs to change, and I'll," Abel glanced behind them, "Try and figure out what we can sleep on. Yuzu, would you mind seeing what there is to eat? Gin shouldn't mind help eating the perishables before they spoil, right?"

"Nah, you're my guests," Haru told him.

"Thanks, Haru!"

"Well, you did try to save me." So Haru shrugged. Hopefully the fangirl would wear off a bit. And hopefully Abel could figure out how to wash those sheets.


"Standing around there all afternoon, could you have been any more obvious?" Abel, who had taken second watch, recognized the familiar clack of wood-on-wood as well as the voice and nudged Haru and Atsuro, who were sleeping on either side of him.

"Hey, I distracted them, didn't I?"

"Yes, and now they might wonder if you had anything to do with it instead of Aya just 'vanishing into the demon realm.' And stealing my keycard last night to force me to track you down and bring you along… What if I'd actually needed it?"

Atsuro covered his mouth, trying to conceal a snort of laughter. Naoya, need a keycard to get past some building's security system? Especially if this was the Shomonkai they were talking about, when Naoya had worked there for weeks.

"Boys, boys," a female voice said, one that made Abel's eyebrows raise because it sounded so much like Naoya when he was happy. The purr was more pronounced, but he could hear that smirk, half affection and half mockery, because Abel and Atsuro were idiots and yet he was at least somewhat fond of them anyway. "You're both pretty."

"Yes, I know," Naoya said, and he was definitely rolling his eyes.

"This is your own fault, you know. What did you think Gin was going to do if you didn't give him any way to help rescue me?"

"I did, he was needed here, protecting your safehouse. Now I need to figure out where we can retreat. The place I'd planned to use isn't contaminated enough by the demon world yet: humans haven't started avoiding it."

"We'll phantasm in to one of the buildings the SDF cleared out because they were overlooking the barricade," Aya said calmly, as though it was perfectly obvious and Naoya was being deliberately obtuse. "I know you're used to driving others away, making sure they don't want to protect you because they can't, but you won't do that to my 'rebellion against the purpose God made me for' and you can't wrap Gin in cotton wool, either. If he was someone who would be okay with that while their loved ones were in danger, we wouldn't love him, would we?"

"You love him," Naoya said, but it was a lie and he knew they knew it.

Aya whispered something that the four of them (Haru had woken Yuzu) couldn't make out and Naoya grumbled as Gin finally unlocked the apartment door. "I should avoid you, woman. You're obviously a trap Remiel set for me: there's no other reason you'd be incarnated now after all these millennia. I'm only staying with you now that I have what I need because Abel's other half should be drawn to you even if you don't know your father's side of the family."

Aya laughed. "So I'm a literal bastard and my other half just acts like one. Come here."

"I can't," Naoya said, before his mouth was silenced by lips, "allow myself," he said after he was released and before Aya pulled him in to shut him up again, "to be distracted," he finally finished, but it didn't sound like he was turning to go or pushing her away. "Or I'll fail, and my brother and I will perish, and I certainly won't see you again next life," he said, a hint of longing and regret clear in his voice.

"Inside," Gin said, pushing at the two of them so wooden sandals and high heels had to take a step inside the door for Naoya and Aya to stay balanced on that footwear. "And Aya will stop shutting you up when you stop saying stupid shit like not letting me help protect you two. Ribs..." Gin snorted. "When you two were split, Aya got all the brains," he grumbled.

And that was when he flipped the lightswitch on.

Gin, Naoya and a woman with black hair and green eyes, the inverse of Naoya's own just as Haru's red and yellow were the inverse of Abel's blue stared down at the teenagers who carpeted their living room floor.

"The other who can speak the primal common tongue," Naoya said, and groaned, slapping a hand to his forehead. "It would have been so obvious, if only I hadn't been distracted."

"Naoya?" Atsuro asked, amazed?

"Atsuro, I am holding you personally responsible for making sure he," Naoya pointed at Abel, "doesn't get her," now he pointed at Haru, "pregnant. If he does, I will kill you."

"Seven billion grand-nieces and nephews are enough?" Aya quipped.

"Exactly. He's in too much danger right now, and even if it appears that yielding to the urge to reunite and screwing ourselves is inevitable, I'm not letting my brother be reduced to just part of God's damn breeding program. For that matter, if you wanted children in the first place, they would have to be Gin's." He somehow stepped through the morass of lanky teens and purloined winter clothing that served as mattress and pillows without tripping or breaking stride. "Speaking of screwing ourselves, I have a headache because of you, so get in here and take responsibility for it." And the endorphins released by sex would kill the pain in a way opium could only mimic: it was a testament to humanity's stupidity that 'I have a headache,' was considered a cliché reason not to have sex.

"Aya got all the romance, too."Gin put his hand to his own temples. "What are all of you doing here?" he asked them.

"What was that all about?" Haru asked them.

"Look, can it wait until morning? We just broke Aya out of the Shomonkai-"

"We?" Naoya's voice demanded from the open bedroom door.

Gin ignored him to continue, "And then we had to get back here without being followed or noticed by all the people sleeping outdoors or the helicopters up ahead." Thankfully there was a difference between being seen and being noticed, but there was an art to not attracting attention or sticking in people's minds.

"We'll explain everything in the morning," Aya reassured them with a big sisterly voice, and both Abel and Haru gave her a look, because they knew that was bullshit.

"He's used to me, and you don't have my practice," Naoya told her. "Now get in here so I can draw the silence ward on the door. As for you, Abel, I thought I told you that it wasn't safe to be seen with me. Get out of here, now, or I will have my demons throw you out."

"Is that because of the SDF or the angels?" Abel asked him. "And why are the demons here? They were talking about a 'Master' Bel-something."

"That's because 'Bel' means master. Now shut up or I will mute you."

Abel shut his mouth, because he'd never seen Naoya acting like this and seeing him so genuine, even if it was genuinely exhausted, stressed, cranky and demanding might let him understand his brother. Eventually. Well, for one thing, it seemed he was human after all.

"You can stay here tonight," Aya told them, "but you really do have to leave in the morning and not talk about whatever you've learned except when you're sure no one's listening. There are people after us, and there are going to be people after you. If the people after us find out about you, they'll go after you because you're easier targets and good hostages. If the people after you find out about us, we won't be able to protect you against them as well. The four of you need to focus on surviving right now, and being as anonymous as you can is the best protection you have. Now, I haven't seen Gin in over a week, so you kids have fun, and don't do half the things I would do!" She made her way through their bedding as easily as Naoya did, Gin grinning and following in their wake.

The door slammed behind them and the 'kids' looked at each other.

Yuzu yawned. "I don't care what he says, I'm not leaving in the morning until I've had another bath," she said, and rolled over next to Haru to go back to sleep as Atsuro stammered out his shock.


In Wilderness, I decided to have Fumi be the one made from Cain's rib. However, I'd already had the idea that the demons could have been after Haru not just because of the song but because she was the one made from Abel's rib: since she was divided from his soul before he became the demon Bel, they can't sense his essence the way they do in Kazuya, but they still sense some power there.

It would also justify her knowing the Primal Common Tongue if she was neither a new soul created after the Ordeal without that knowledge nor one who had been on earth at the time, but rather still in storage in heaven, never incarnated because Abel died first. The angels communicate with song, so it seems those in heaven retained the Primal Common Tongue, or it can be read that way.

Of course, if Haru is Abel's other half and that's why she knows the language, then what about Aya? Naoya, Aya… the MC's manga name, Kazuya, continues the pattern. Even if this is a coincidence in our world, it doesn't have to be on the other side of the fourth wall.