End Game 11
The Beginning: Part 2
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Don't own Highschool Dragons of Dragons or Naruto. I do own the concepts and plots that I introduced into the story. Also, because of the connection between Highschool Dxd and multiple Religions and Myths, I am sorry if I have accidentally written something wrong and offended someone's belief/faith etc. I just did some basic research and filled the holes in by myself so it is only natural if I get something wrong.
Yuki Kajiura - Cynical World
AKINO - PRIDE Nageki no Tabi
"What are you doing?"
Naruto lazily looked up and yawned lightly at the person who was currently blocking the nice rays he had been enjoying while he napped on the ground.
On his tummy, a red ball of fur stirred and cracked one ruby red eye at the intruder, before it closed again after determining the person to be significantly less important than his nap.
"I was napping. Until someone disturbed me obviously. Anything I can help you with?" The blond drawled lazily.
"You could start by telling me why are all of you here instead of being, you know, in class?" Akeno supplied drily as she glanced around the little clearing and smiled wryly at the sight of Erza calmly using a whetstone to sharpen her sword while three black and blue bundles of bruised flesh were desperately trying to regain their breath, "All of you and Erza." She amended to herself mentally.
"Erza's taking a break from using Kiba as her practice dummy." The Uzumaki explained simply, "I just finished training Ise and Asia."
"NO HE WASN'T!"
Naruto turned around with a mild expression, "Oh you can shout again. Does that mean we can go back to training?"
Before Ise could reply, Kiba had already knocked him out via sword hilt to the back of the head and dropping the boy like a rock, "No we're not. Ise's just feeling a little grumpy because you keep trying to hurt Asia."
"Well, technically that was the whole point of the training isn't it? To make sure the three of you can work together as a team and cover each other." The blond pointed out with a thin smile.
Kiba's left brow twitched a little, "Of course." The pretty boy forced out as politely as he could, "Because trying to throw her off a cliff while we try our best to stop you obviously counts as training."
"What's wrong with that? Throwing people off cliffs is practically tradition as far as I'm concerned." Naruto replied casually, "My grandmother did it, my grandfather did it. I'm pretty sure my mother would have happily done it because it's funny. Even my father would have done it. Granted, it would have been under protest, but he would still have done it mostly because he turned into a walking sucker anytime my mother fluttered her eyelashes at him." The blond muttered that last part under his breath, "And now I'm doing it like an initiation ceremony for people who want to train under me."
The blond blinked blankly then he poked the fox on his tummy.
"Kurama, I think I just realized why Baa - chan kept refusing to give me a genin team."
"You mean other than the fact that you were a genin yourself?" The bundle of red fur who was only half listening to the nonsensical conversation while it napped on his tummy grunted in annoyance, "And did it really take you 7 years to figure that out?"
"I kicked enough ass to be a jounin several times over. That made up for it right?" The blond countered.
"That doesn't take account of the fact that they were also trying to train rational, effective soldiers. Not more insane, blood thirsty, traumatized munchkins. There were plenty of those running around as it was."
"But my munchkins would have been insane, blood thirsty, traumatized and highly effective." The miffed blond argued.
Kurama snorted, "Exactly my point. Now be quiet and let me sleep."
"Stupid grumpy fox." Naruto grunted before looking back up at a highly amused Akeno, "Anyway. The gist is we were training." The blond deadpanned.
Akeno raised one delicate brow while Erza snorted quietly at his airy tone, "Was there really a point to all of that? Or was it just so you can enjoy yourself?"
Naruto shrugged, "Kiba gets training from an experienced sword user who has an ability similar to his, Ise gets some experience how a team fight generally goes when he has to restrict himself from charging headlong into battle unless he wants someone to shoot down his medic first because dealing with his defense on top of her healing is seriously annoying even for me and Asia gets exposed to even more injuries because I don't feel like cutting myself up when I can do it to other people."
The blond smirked.
"The fact that I get to watch Ise hang onto my leg and then get thrown down a cliff together with her is just a bonus as far as I'm concerned."
"In other words, you were enjoying yourself." Akeno deadpanned.
"Yes. Yes I was." The blond admitted with a satisfied smirk.
"THERE WERE BEARS DOWN THERE YOU BASTARD! NOT BEAR. BEARS."
The unconscious Ise somehow yelled in his sleep while the white robed lump beside him twitched a little and Naruto got a sneaking suspicion that neither of them were really as unconscious Kiba claimed they were.
"I know there were. It's why I threw you and Asia down there in the first place." Naruto pointed out conversationally.
The supposedly unconscious Ise shot up with a righteous fury burning in his eyes, before he was put down again just as promptly, via another solid hit to the back of the head courtesy of Kiba.
Akeno rolled her eyes and professionally ignored her clubmates' antics, "Unfortunately for you and your entertainment, Rias wants to talk to them. So I'm afraid I'll have to request that you stop abusing them for now."
The battered trio suddenly shot up, and ran out of the clearing, even Asia, without so much as a single word of thanks, leaving the amused Uzumaki to watch them run faster than supposedly unconscious people had any right to.
"You're a killjoy. You know that right?" He commented languidly to the raven haired girl still primly standing beside him.
"Your suffering IS my joy." She replied with a smirk, "That aside, are you coming?"
Naruto idly glanced at Akeno who simply waited for his answer with a neutral expression, "Should I?"
"That's up to you I guess. She didn't say I couldn't ask you to come along if I happened to find you." Akeno noted evasively.
Naruto shrugged and then leapt to his feet gracefully, "Might as well. I should probably say something to RIas." He called out, "Avalon, come on. We're leaving."
A small globe of golden light slowly fluttered out of the woods and perched itself on his shoulder while Kurama contented himself by curling up in the blond's sweater pocket.
Naruto smiled thinly as he petted the fairy who was looking up at him with pure unadulterated adoration with one finger, "Did you have fun?"
"Neheehee…" The little fairy nuzzled his finger back happily, "It's a very small forest, Naruto-sama. And the local Kami was too shy to say much."
"We'll have to come back and see if we can persuade her that you just want to be friends next time." The blond replied airily.
"Alright, Naruto-sama. You'll really like her." The little fairy chirped enthusiastically as she settled down in his breast pocket. Glancing at Erza, the blond sighed quietly, "Are you going to insist on coming as well just to make me uncomfortable?"
Erza beamed as she de-summoned her sword, "Of course. But I'll meet you later since I've had my fill of fun for the day and I have a prior commitment in a while. So I'll just meet up with you afterwards."
"Kiba would be overjoyed to know you enjoyed stabbing him so many times." The blond noted with a crooked smirk.
"He still depends on his Gear and his speed too much." Erza replied with a stern frown, not at all denying the blond's accusation, "Besides, if he doesn't like getting stabbed, then its extra incentive to learn is it not?"
"I actually think that statement would apply to almost everyone." Akeno commented dryly.
The blond looked at her with mock surprise, "I thought you liked pain."
Akeno smiled sultrily, "So long as I'm the one inflicting it that is. You should know, considering how much you like to being punished by me."
"She's lying and we have done nothing of the sort before!"
Erza quirked one brow at the suddenly sweating blond and smirked, "Rest assured, Master. I went temporarily deaf and didn't hear anything, therefore I will most certainly not tell everyone about your masochistic tendencies to protect your fragile dignity."
The Uzumaki grinned, "I thought you didn't know how to joke, but that was a pretty good one. You are joking right…..? Right…?"
The swordswoman who blinked innocently back at him.
"I'm sorry, Master. I'm still deaf."
"Did I ever do something to you?"
"You could give me a month to list down everything you've done to me and it still wouldn't be enough." Erza pointed out delicately.
"What happened to being deaf?"
"The sound of you begging was too delicious not to hear."
Naruto pursed his lips and gave her a dry stare, "I'm starting to get a sneaking suspicion that this whole Master charade kinda sucks when your alleged servant is really just trying to stab you in the back whenever she can."
"My Master is wise indeed."
The two of them took a while to arrive at the clubroom located in the abandoned part of the Academy, mostly thanks to Akeno slowing down her pace to match the blond's ambling shuffles so that they could talk, or in Naruto's humble opinion, so that she could snipe a bit more at all his shortcomings, but when they did arrive, the Uzumaki was somewhat surprised to note that everyone else in the club was already there.
Everyone plus an extra he hadn't met before.
An extra who beamed cheerfully at him and hopped up when he entered the room, "Hi. You must be Naruto-san. Ise's told me a lot about you."
He peered down at the brown haired girl who was about a whole head shorter than he was, "He did?" Naruto squinted at the squirming Dragon user in question who began to rapidly pale as he realized his current collection bruises was about to grow significantly larger, "And exactly what did he say about me?"
The girl who had her waist length brown hair tied up in two pony tails held her fingers and furrowed her brow thoughtfully as she began to count off everything Ise had told her about him, "He said you were an eccentric asshole that liked to make people suffer because you were too tsundere to realize that deep down you are actually a very nice, albeit hypocritical, person." She paused thoughtfully, "He also mentioned that you have an unhealthy fixation with breaking people's reproductive organs."
Akeno chuckled softly at the blond's completely non-plussed expression as the girl happily sat back down again.
Then he slowly looked at Ise who basically teleported from the couch to the blond's feet in a perfect dogeza.
"Pleasedon'tkillme." The Dragon user squeaked.
The blond blinked slowly again, "I won't."
Ise looked up hopefully, "You won't?"
"No, I won't." Naruto echoed calmly, "I don't think I've actually met someone who can list all of that straight to my face before, so I'm a little too busy being impressed to think about punishing you."
"Oh." Ise sighed a sigh of relief.
"Incidentally, your training menu just tripled."
"I thought you weren't thinking about punishing me?!" Ise squawked indignantly.
"I wasn't." The blond replied clinically, "I thought about it last night. You basically just sealed the deal."
The dark brown haired boy instantly went as pale as a ghost as Kiba, and surprisingly enough, Asia, patted his shoulders sympathetically.
Naruto glanced at the newbie again who was watching their interaction with great interest "So? Who's the brutally honest and overly energetic hamster?"
The girl tilted her head questioningly, "Hamster? Why hamster?"
Naruto merely shrugged, "You reminded me of one, your hair looks like fur and I don't know your name, so I had to call you something else in the meantime."
The girl deflated slightly, "Oh." Then she immediately perked up again, "My name's Irina Shidou!"
"Okay?" The non-plussed Uzumaki merely stared at the, "Still doesn't explain why you're here though, hamster."
"I'm here because we needed to talk to Gremory-san about requesting her help in finding a precious treasure of the Church! Something really, REALLY, valuable was lost and our commander requested me and my senior to snatch it back from the hands of the infidels who have stolen it before it can be wrongfully used against us!"
Everyone stared at the girl as she rattled off an entire paragraph in a single breath, while Kiba stiffened imperceptibly at the mere mention of a treasure belonging to the Church.
Ise however just stared at her, "What. You… you're with the Church?"
Irina blinked, "Oh!" She clasped her hand over her mouth, "Sorry…I shouldn't have said that before Xenovia explained everything." She wrung her hands worriedly, "It was supposed to be a secret until Xenovia arrived and officially requested for Gremory-san's help. She's going to be so upset with me now."
Naruto gestured at the flustered girl, "Is she always like this?"
Ise sweat dropped, "She and her father both."
Akeno glared at the two of them before stepping forward with a kind smile, "Don't worry. We won't tell anyone if you don't."
Irina's eyes went as wide as plates, "Really? You're so kind even though you're a devil." The girl squealed happily.
There was a joke about racism somewhere in there, but for the life of him, Naruto just couldn't figure what it was.
"So where is your senior, Xenovia-san at the moment?"
The bubbly and upbeat girl beamed, "Xenovia-san should be here soon, I received a message from her earlier that she already arrived by train." Leaning in conspiratorially, "Xenovia-san is a really respected and devout Exorcist, so she's always very busy with a lot of important assignments. I'm really glad to be able to work with her."
If it was possible, Ise went even paler, "I-Irina? You're an Exorcist?!"
Completely failing to realize the boy's discomfort, Irina puffed up her chest proudly, "Yup. I've even been promoted to a Second Class Meister recently!"
"So… all this time when I've with you, taking you to show you all around town and introducing you to my friends, you were just using me for information?"
"What?" Irina uttered confusedly as she finally noticed the fear on Ise's face, "I... No!"
Taking pity on the downtrodden look on Ise's expression, Akeno rather calmly placed a hand and began to explain their meeting with another less savory Exorcist to the slightly less upbeat girl while the Uzumaki was content to merely watch, taking care to keep one eye on an increasingly red faced Kiba as he tried his absolute best to glare a hole in Irina's face.
It was while Irina was emphatically denying that she knew of anyone called Freed, and that even if she did, she wouldn't recognize him as an Exorcist that the door opened again and a slim girl with light blur hair walked through confidently as if she owned the place with Rias by her side, looking strangely disgruntled.
Taking in the inhabitants of the room, she narrowed her eyes at Irina and at her slightly red eyes before sighing, "You told them everything already didn't you?"
Irina promptly went red, "Sorry…" She muttered apologetically under her breath while Rias looked even more confused.
"Never mind." The girl brushed it off like a fly off her shoulder as her eyes scanned all of them with a hint of distaste revealing itself on her curled lips, "It just simplifies matters I think."
She drew a deep breath.
"Recently some Holy Artifacts that were kept by the Vatican Church, the Protestants, and the Eastern Orthodox Church have been stolen and our trackers have traced them down to this town. We, as the Church Enforcers have been sent here to retrieve these Artifacts."
Seeing Rias narrow her eyes, the blue haired girl in green mesh quickly put up her hand to stop the incoming argument, "Do not misunderstand. We are not here to accuse you Devils of stealing from the Church. We have determined that the fault lies directly with the Fallen Angels and one of their leaders, Kokabiel specifically, though we do not understand why they have come to this town out of so many others. Before today, we've sent in many priests and exorcists, but they kept getting assassinated, until our Leaders have seen no other choice but to send in the Enforcers, a group of Exorcists specifically chosen for their skills and abilities."
"I see…. Then why are you here, in this clubroom?" Rias quirked one eyebrow delicately, "Is it to ask for our cooperation?"
She shook her head of light blue hair, "That will not be necessary. Though we know that the Devils were not directly involved in the incident, we also want to ask that you Devils do not interfere in our duty."
Irina's eyebrows promptly shot upwards when she heard that and her mouth opened, but no sound came out when Xenovia shot her a pointed look. Immediately, Irina relented and bowed her head.
"Are you implying that the Devils will work together with the Fallen Angels?" Rias questioned sharply.
"There is always that possibility," Xenovia replied easily, her almost innocent expression was filled with a pure self-confidence, "Everybody knows that all three sides live with an uneasy peace that is sustained by a threat of mutual destruction. However, now that the scales have shifted in favour of the Fallen Angels, the possibility of the Devils allying with them to finish off their age old enemies is not beyond not the realm of possibility." The female swordswoman nodded with a faint smile, "Enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that."
"That wasn't necessary, Xenovia." The brown haired Exorcist, apparently having enough of her partner's brusque words protested.
"Is it Irina?" Xenovia questioned stoically and turned to Rias, "Can you honestly say that you would not be worried about that very exact possibility if you were in our position?" At this point, Rias noticed the disappointed look she sent in the somewhat downtrodden Irina's direction.
"No, I can't." Rias murmured emphatically, "As a devil noble and the Heiress to the name Gremory, the wellbeing of my family, and of my people, should always take precedent over anything else." The red headed girl shrugged apologetically to the much kinder and sweeter Exorcist in the room, "It's not really a bad thing as far as I'm concerned, but it does restrict my options somewhat."
"Putting your opinions aside, you mentioned three Churches, so I assume there should be three representatives, yet I see only two. Where is the third?" Akeno muttered.
"That person is being held back, in order to protect the last Artifact the Church still holds in case Irina and I fail." Xenovia said in her usual monotone.
"Then you are planning to go up against Kokabiel and his servants with only two people?" Rias asked with an amazed expression as if she could not believe their idiocy.
"As long as you stay out of it, we will win. Just know that we will not take it lightly if you decide to interfere, even if you are the little sister of a Maou." The light blue haired girl stated with an expression of supreme self-confidence as she ignored Rias' glare.
"There's nothing wrong with self-confidence," Akeno said slowly as she calmed Rias down with a warning look, "But I cannot help but feel that that self-confidence is misplaced without any power to back it up." She narrowed her eyes at the bulky package, "Unless you happen to have a secret weapon of some sort?"
Silently, Xenovia nodded to Irina to do the same as she hefted the package and unwrapped a long double handed sword with an arched hilt in one smooth move. Instantly, a cold frisson ran over all the Devils as the dangerous aura immediately doubled. Beside her, a reluctant Irina removed the band on her arm and flicked it once. Wavering like liquid, the band morphed into a long eastern blade, the katana's blade glinting dangerously in the room.
A frisson ran through the spines of every Devil in the room as the mere presence of the blades alone were enough to instil in them a need to get away from it. Even if they didn't not know the names of the swords, the power being outputted by the sacred blades just from being unsheathed told them clearly that even a single cut was more than enough to kill any one of them.
"As you can see, we are not bluffing. We have the full backing of our respective Churches as well as the power of two of seven Excaliburs behind us." Xenovia said pride shining on her face.
"Uhm….." Timid little Asia lifted one hand as if she wanted to ask a question in class, "I've been wondering about this for a while, but exactly what was it that was stolen if the Churches needed to send the two of you along with two Excaliburs to retrieve it?"
The two Church Enforces shared a strange look before Irina turned a sharp gaze back on the shy nun as if they were loath to admit it, "Three of the seven Excaliburs that were bring safeguarded by the Vatican, the Eastern Orthodox, and the Protestants were stolen."
In the corner of the room, one crystal blue eye narrowed as the lump in his breast pocket shook when the light brown haired girl suddenly piped up again, sounding as cheerful as ever, "Excuse me for asking, but when I saw you yesterday night at Ise-kun's house, I already thought you looked strangely familiar. Might you, by any chance, be the The Witch, Asia Argento?"
The light in Asia's eyes dimmed the moment she heard her epithet and she flinched away from the Enforcers with a tiny, "Umm…. I….. I…. Yes…."
"I see…" Xenovia nodded slowly, "We had heard that the Holy Maiden were exiled by the Church and had joined up by the Fallen Angels, but to fall this low…. To become a Devil… Your very existence is a mark of shame on our Church. Do you even still believe in our God?"
"Xenovia. There's no way that she, who became a devil, still believes in God." Shidou Irina said it with an amazed face.
"No, I can smell the "belief" from her. It might be an abstract way of saying it. But I'm sensitive to these things. There are people who betray the teachings and still have guilt within them because they couldn't forget the teachings. I can feel something similar coming from her."
Xenovia said with sharp eyes and Irina stared at Asia even more with interested eyes.
"Is that true? Asia-san, you still believe in God even if you have turned into a devil?"
"…I just can't put it aside. I believed in it for my whole life…" The downtrodden nun muttered pitifully.
Hearing that, Xenovia's broad bladed sword was suddenly pointed at Asia, "If you still believe in the tenets of Christianity, then you should know what it says about Devils don't you? If it's now, I can cut you in the name of God. Even if you have sin, our God will forgive you."
Ise narrowed his eyes in anger as he stepped in front of a cowering Asia, "How could you say that?"
Xenovia tilted her head as she started walking closer to them, "What was wrong with I said?"
"If you come close to Asia, I won't forgive you. You called Asia a "Witch" didn't you?"
"Yes I have. Right now she is a being at least fit to be called a "Witch"."
Ise ground his teeth together at her completely self-righteous words,
"Don't fuck around! Not even a single person helped her when she needed help! Those who can't understand Asia's kindness are a bunch of idiots! It's also wrong that none of them tried to become her friend!"
"Do you think the "Holy Maiden" needed friends?" Xenovia declared with an expression that showed she thought something like this was too obvious, "What's important is the charity to others. A "Holy Maiden" that seeks friendship and love from others is not a maiden at all, much less a Holy one. She could have continued to live with the love from God but she seeks for Earthly desires above that, so it can be concluded that Asia Argento did not have the right to be a "Holy Maiden" from the beginning. Everybody understands something as simple as that."
"So you guys selfishly made her into a "Holy Maiden" and abandoned her because she's different from those who seek her? That's fucked up!" Ise couldn't stop himself from saying it, from the moment he had been become friends with the shy and retiring Asia, he had been deeply disgusted by the antics of the supposed Church.
The fact that there were now two Exorcists in the same room as him, spouting off the same sanctimonious, holier-than-thou bullshit he had come to associate with them simply sealed the deal.
"There's no way I would even want to understand something as jacked up as that! None of you know what she went through! What God!? What love!? That God didn't do jack shit when Asia was in a dangerous situation!"
But Xenovia answered calmly, "God loved her. If nothing happened then it means that she didn't believe in him enough, or her belief was fake."
"ENOUGH!" Rias suddenly bellowed with surprising force, cutting through the argument decisively.
"What they choose to believe is their problem, regardless of whether it is true or not." The red headed princess stated firmly, "If we went around trying to force everyone to believe in what we do, we'd be no different from them."
"This argument is over, Ise." Rias restated with a tone of finality before she turned her fierce gaze at the Exorcists, "That said, I do not appreciate you threatening my friends so openly. You are free to do what you want in town, and we will not interfere, but I would appreciate it if you left immediately."
Xenovia snorted derisively as she sheathed her blade with an audible rasp, the hilt clicking into place on its scabbard with a dangerous clink.
She spun around and left the room confidently, her travelling cloak swishing around her while her far more pleasant colleague gave a slightly apologetic smile and bowed before hurriedly following her senior out of the room.
Naruto twiddled his thumbs nonchalantly as everyone quietly left the room before he gently rubbed the shaking lump in his breast pocket, "Hey." He said gently, "It's going to be alright."
The shaking subsided a little before a little yellow crown poked out with big watery blue eyes shining up at him, "Naruto-sama..." Her face twisted in anguish, "My sister... I felt her. For the briefest of moments, I felt her again for the first time in millennia, but it was so disjointed, so fragmented. I don't think she even realized I was so close."
He rubbed her cheek as gently as he could, "Don't worry about it. I'll do something about it."
Avalon nodded listlessly, "Naruto-sama... i'm tired. Can I sleep?"
"Go ahead. I need to speak to Rias for a bit anyway."
Avalon hugged the giant finger and then crawled back into the pocket, hugging a piece of cloth that Serafall has fashioned for her as a blanket.
Play Yuki Kajiura - Cynical World
"Well that was an interesting discussion."
Rias snorted quietly as she continued to rub her temples, "That's one way of putting it. I'd almost forgotten how touchy Ise can be when it comes to Asia."
Naruto shrugged, "I don't really blame them. They were being pretty sanctimonious about the whole thing. Or at least the witch was."
She glanced at him and the weariness around her eyes softened a little, "If I hadn't done that, all of you idiots fighting each other probably would have brought the whole place down on our heads on top of telling every Fallen Angel in the town that they're here, completely defeating the purpose of them coming here in secret."
"Something would definitely have fallen if they fought, but I'm not so sure that it would be the ceiling." Naruto amended for her absent mindedly.
Rias merely quirked one brow, "You believe Ise and perhaps Kiba would have been able to win easily?"
"I didn't say they'd win easily, but I'd certainly be rather disappointed if they lost." Naruto said with a crooked smile.
"Even if they had to fight two Excalibur wielders without knowing exactly which one?"
"So they've gotten that strong huh?" She smiled bitterly, "I've been a bad King. So utterly caught up in my own miserable problems that I haven't been taking care of them as I should have." She drew a deep breath before hesitantly meeting the blond's eyes, "I'm sorry."
The Uzumaki merely grinned in amusement, "For?"
"You know what for." She groused.
"I can guess more or less why," The blond conceded, "I just thought you'd feel better if you said it out loud."
Rias chuckled quietly with an expression of affectionate exasperation, "I can't believe I almost forgot how annoying you can get when you speak in riddles like that."
"You people do have the most amusing expressions." The blond admitted with a shameless grin, "Also, don't change the topic. I'm still waiting."
"You knew didn't you?" Rias retorted accusingly as she slowly turned an adorable bright red that completely matched her flaming crimson hair, "That's why you kept pushing my…. advances away."
"About the piece of soul you put in me?" The blond replied mildly, "I didn't." He admitted calmly, "I had no idea at all. I was merely against it because of the fact that I'm about a decade older than you, but I didn't completely discount the possibility that you might have really been in love." He placed the tips of his fingers together and smiled mischievously, "If you had managed to persuade me that you really did feel that way, I might even have reciprocated."
"Gaaah!" Rias buried her face in her hands and moaned quietly as she remembered everything she had said to him, the way she had…. tempted him in bed, the night the Fried Chicken had issued his challenge to her, "This is so embarrassing."
His eyes twinkled at her, "Do you even have that kind of preference?"
She jabbed a finger in his general direction and growled, "STOP GRINNING LIKE THAT!"
"But why?" The blond drawled with a shit eating grin plastered all over his face, "This is so amusing."
"Ugh! You're worse than my brother sometimes."
"Considering I'm actually somewhat familiar with your brother, I think that's a pretty good compliment." Naruto noted dryly.
Rias let out a halfhearted giggle at that and sighed mournfully.
He folded his legs and quirked one eyebrow at the girl who still refused to look at him directly, "When did you realize?" He asked idly.
"At the match with Sona." Rias muttered, "Seeing you so wretched and unkempt made me realize that I knew absolutely nothing about you. There was nothing I could do or say to make you feel better, no way to understand how you. Hell, I didn't even know what was troubling you."
She met his gaze earnestly, "I realized then that there was a massive gap between you and the image I had of you, but I could not see it until the blinders were removed when you returned my soul to me."
"And yet you were brave enough to admit that you were mistaken, and then explain to me why things have changed between us." The blond observed quietly before he smiled gently, "You have grown much. Take pride in that if nothing else."
"Can you not be so composed about the whole thing? A pure and youthful girl is pouring out her feelings to you, you know?" Rias muttered sourly.
"Would you prefer if I started blushing and stuttering?" The blond questioned mildly, "Or maybe innocent and naïve, completely open to your… seductiveness?"
Rias paused to try and imagine the blond as blushing and stuttering mess.
She proceeded to cringe, "Hell no."
Naruto let out a loud bark of laughter, "Perhaps in another world." He conceded through short gaps of air as he wiped away tears of laughter.
Calming down visibly, he leaned back into the chair comfortably, "So where does that put us now?"
"A young student and her half assed mentor?"
"Are you sure you don't have a fetish for older men or something?"
"Fine. Friends then."
"Friends will do." The blond acquiesced with a small smile.
Rias grinned as she leaned back in her seat with a relieved sigh, "That was easier than I had expected."
"You thought I would get offended or angry?" Naruto asked curiously.
"Not really." Rias admitted, "I remember making a number of promises to you, and I hate taking my words back."
"I can understand that."
She folded her arms and eyed him curiously.
Looking at him properly like this for the first time since that Match, she realized the blond was a lot more relaxed and far more talkative than she had seen him be in a while.
"Do you mind if I asked you something else?"
"As long as I can answer it, I don't see why not."
"The ritual I used to keep you alive was a traditional pact between a Devil and a Magician, so I had no idea if it would work or not seeing as you weren't a Magician." Rias noted, "It was something I had been thinking of doing seeing as Mages are typically pretty good fighters. However, I was under the impression that the Pact could only be broken once the deal between the Devil and the Magician was completed at the price of the Mage's soul. Granted, there's a simpler, more convenient pact available that's something of a craze amongst the younger Devils nowadays but it lacked the potency that the one I used had, so how exactly were you available to detect and remove that shard so easily? And without any consequence to either of us no less?"
"The reason is simple." Naruto replied calmly, "From birth, everyone with the potential in my village were taught how to access our chakra, a combination of our physical power and our mental will. That alone would not be anywhere enough to do what I did, however as we go along and understand ourselves better, there comes a point when we are able to separate our chakra into its two distinct components. In my case, my physical power is somewhat lacking at the moment, but my mental will was completely unaffected. Overall, it means that while my sum total energy is kinda small for a Devil because a balance between the two is required, when it comes to the matters of the soul, there are very few people that can do what I can."
As Rias digested his answer thoughtfully, Naruto concealed a small smile.
Seeing as the only other person who was that experienced and skillful with manipulating yin and yang chakra separately was also his very much dead ancestor and the founder of Ninshu there wasn't exactly an overabundance of people who could even begin to scratch the surface of what he was trying to do, but it didn't change the fact that one could always argue that reaching that level with yin and yang was certainly possible given time and practice.
So in effect, he hadn't really lied at all.
He had just neglected to give her the whole truth.
"So it had nothing to do with that seal on your chest?"
Naruto paled as he instinctively clutched the spot over his heart.
Seeing her watch him intensely, the blond smiled weakly and leaned back with a quiet sigh, "Not really, no."
"What exactly is that seal?" Rias inquired cautiously, "My brother… might have let slip that it was a very powerful seal and something so complex and powerful that it hasn't been seen since the Great War."
Naruto smiled thinly, "It is a punishment."
"Oh…" Rias bit down on her lower lip, she didn't think asking what he was being punished for would be very appropriate considering this was the only time she had seen the blond anything less than perfectly composed but as the awkward silence continued Rias blurted out, "Who was the one who punished you?"
Naruto merely smiled gently as if he knew exactly what she had been thinking.
As the blond meandered down a street to the usual ramen shop, he shivered slightly.
He seriously needed some time to analyze and review the jumble of mess he had been involved in the past few days.
Preferably somewhere warm.
Konoha was located in a tropical area suited for the large forests it was known for, so on a whole, he handled heat far better than he did the cold, and with Christmas approaching, the weather was already starting to fall drastically more and more with each passing day.
The idea of simply going back to Azazel's place where the Fallen Angel had the most luxurious luxuries installed and simply falling asleep next the heater was starting to get a little too tempting for his tastes.
But before that, he wanted to drop by the ramen store and at least let the old man know that he wasn't dead in some gutter somewhere after an unexplained, prolonged absence from the store thanks to his previous obsession. Not to mention, he still wanted to get started on building his new home as fast as possible. Azazel's place was nice, but he preferred his own home.
Glancing around the empty market street as he entered it, Naruto frowned. It was still a little too late for the shop to be open, but the old man was probably still pottering around in the back as he got ready for the next day.
Stepping into an alley, the blond hummed to himself as he came to a stop next to a dingy looking door and dug around in his pockets for his keys to the shop's back door.
"Ojii-san, you there?" Naruto yelled absentmindedly as he hurriedly entered the store and savored the warmth.
Turning around, he stopped short and slowly raised one brow at the two strangers standing there in aprons, both of them holding a pot of ramen soup each, obviously meant to be set on the boiler so that it could simmer overnight for maximum flavor, and frozen in mid stride as they stared at him in bewilderment, recognition and more than a little fear.
Blue eyes blinked slowly as he stared back at the two rather familiar females.
"You!" the shorter girl screeched.
Her yellow pigtails almost seemed to vibrate with anger as she shook one imperial finger at him, "What are YOU doing here?!" The short blond girl shouted, pronouncing the you like it was a curse, "It wasn't bad enough that you took away our home and our Leader, but now you want to hunt us down?! Why won't you leave us alone!?"
"Technically, I didn't do anything." Naruto commented dryly as he finally recognized the girl cursing him and her dark blue haired companion as the two Fallen Angels accompanying Dohnaseek during that little incident with Ise's trigger happy ex-girlfriend, "All I did was punch a few people and tear off a limb or two." The blond continued conversationally.
With cry, the infuriated girl hurled himself at him with a wild, desperate look in her eyes.
Mid lunge, Naruto grabbed the broom leaning behind the door and twirled it, sending the wooden stick in his hand spinning like a wheel until the blunt end cracked the blond girl's chin, before he hooked her apron with it and spun her around before calmly tripping her up by sticking the other end of the broom between her feet.
Meanwhile he lashed out with one foot, kicking away a block of wood that had been supporting a nearby wooden shelf that he knew was holding up several heavy pots, so when the dizzy blond girl hit the wall and slumped down, the impact shook the shelf loose from its old bindings and collapsed with a loud clatter, sending the pots and pans that had been resting on it hurtling down the improvised ledge until it fell on the girl's head, one by one, with the final tin pot landed on the girl's head with a loud clang.
"KYAAH! I CAN'T SEE!"
Keeping an eye on the other Fallen Angel who was not doing anything except watching the two of them fight, if you could call it that, with an arrogant sneer, Naruto scooped some pepper out of a bowl without even looking as he used the broom like a hammer and serenely began to bang it on the tin pot stuck around the blond girl's head, causing her loud screams to be intermixed with the loud clanging of the wooden staff striking the pot.
Grabbing the pot, Milltelt used all her strength to wrench the cramped pot off her head, only to find the blond towering above her.
She promptly began to scream as Naruto gleefully threw the fistful of pepper into her eyes.
And then just because he could, he shoved the pan back down on her head and start banging it with a saucepan as hard as he could again with a perfectly neutral expression as if this was something he did all the time.
Naruto watched the blinded girl run around the store, screaming, until she ran right into a wall face first.
One eyebrow rose with mild amusement as the short girl slowly fell over backwards like a poleaxed cow, the pan falling off to reveal that her blood shot eyes had rolled up into her head in a dead faint.
"Soo... What was her name again? It was something that sounded like Mittens right?" He conversationally directed his question at the arrogant seeming woman as he tapped the unconscious girl's forehead with the wooden end of the broom.
"Milltelt." She corrected him regally even as she observed him with hawk like eyes, "And you're surprisingly brutal for a human."
"I have no idea how to pronounce that, so Mittens it is." Naruto noted cheerfully as he ignored that last part, "And you are?"
"Kalawarner." The blue haired woman with long legs briefly glanced at the younger girl who was still pretty out of it, "You'll have to forgive her, she's a little high strung at the moment. Having your only goal in life get ripped away from you before you're forced from your home on to the streets where no one would help usually does that to a person." The fallen angel noted casually.
"I could tell." the shinobi replied pleasantly, "That was the only reason why I didn't do anything worse. Although, my first instinct was to find out if the two of you did something to the old man, then eviscerate you." His eyes narrowed into blue chips of ice, "Of course, if I find out that either of you laid even a single finger on the old man, I will do a lot worse than throw pepper in your eyes."
"Oooh, Naruto-chan, where were you all this time? You were gone so long, I had to hire some helpers."
The blond whirled around with a sharp breath of relief as the old man entered the store with his familiar shuffling gait, all the while puffing on a cigarette.
Naruto smiled faintly even as he kept a wary eye on the woman who had yet to do anything except give him a condescending stare, "I've... Been busy with school."
The old man gave the exhausted bags on his eyes and some of the bandages still wrapped around the visible parts of his body from his encounter with Azazel a pointed look, "I'm sure you were." He noted dryly. Looking around, the old man sharply took note of the scattered pots and pans and the unconscious Mittelt.
"I also see you've already introduced yourself to your new co-workers." He commented in a clinical tone.
"Yeah about that." The blond calmly moved towards the old man and grasped his arm, gently but firmly leading them to the front of the store where they could talk without being disturbed, "I know you tend to be a little air headed most of the time, but in case you didn't already know, those two are fairly dangerous people." Naruto noted quietly.
Despite his wrinkled old skin and very obvious lack of teeth, the old man's crystal clear eyes showed that he had lost none of his mental agility, "Then tell me what should I have done, Naruto-chan?"
"Ignoring them would have been nice." The blond supplied drily.
"Then should I have ignored you as well all those months ago when all my instincts were telling me to leave this obviously dangerous person alone?" The gummy old man frowned at the blond, "Being a hypocrite does not become you, Naruto-chan."
"Actually, I'm a massive hypocrite." Naruto admitted shamelessly.
"So you would help others but not these two? What's the difference?"
The difference was that he was a trained shinobi that was perfectly capable of handling himself if something came back to bite him on his ass, which actually happened fairly often now that he thought about it, while the old man was just an old man.
But instead of saying that, the blond simply sighed grudgingly, "Alright, you win. They can stay as long as you let me know the moment something strange happens."
"Of course, I always win." The two of them glanced over the counter where Kalawarner was still obviously watching them with her arms folded, "She really needs to do something about that face though. She keeps looking as if she smells something funny and it's upsetting the customers." he old man grumbled under his breath, causing the blond to chuckle.
"Alright... Time to go apologize."
"Have fun. And come find me when you're done, I need to speak to you about something." The old man waved at the blond cheekily as he reentered the kitchen where Kalawarner was still standing with her arms folded.
"Look... I know I didn't make the best first impression bu-"
"Save it." Kalawarner cut him off curtly, "I heard what you two were talking about and I have no interest in being friends. The only person I owe my gratitude towards, is to that old man."
Naruto smiled wryly, "At least we agree on one thing."
He was about to go and talk to the old man about taking some time off again when the back door opened again, allowing a woman in what seemed to be an armored variation of a maid uniform to step through.
Her experienced eyes swept around the room at a glance and she raised one eyebrow, "I left you for barely three hours," Erza noted blandly, "And already you managed to stumble on two fallen angels?"
"Not my fault this time." Naruto mumbled defensively as he felt Kalawarner tense and edge closer to Mittens, clearly preparing herself for a disadvantaged fight, "I didn't pick them up, the old man did."
"I see." Erza replied as she very calmly placed on hand on a sword hilt that hadn't been there before, "Should I dispose of them anyway?"
Kalawarner tensed even further but her eyes widened as the blond merely waved his hand at the maid, "Leave them alone, Erza. They're not here to hurt anyone."
The woman with deep brown hair, nearly crimson in the dark light, paused.
Behind them, the Fallen Angel quirked one eyebrow with some curiosity at the blond defending them, but she still eyed the two of them warily when her gaze met the devil swordswoman's own piercing gaze.
The fallen angel was surprised to note that the ill will and prejudice reflected in her eyes dissipated instantly with a casual shrug, as if the blond's words alone were more than enough proof for her.
"If you say so, Master."
Kalawarner couldn't help but quirk her brows at the strange interaction, "This mad man is your Master?"
"Unwilling Master." Naruto amended absent mindedly while Erza snorted again, "Not to mention that I can't seem to stop her from calling me that."
"I did offer to call you my King." Erza frowned sternly as she began to pick up all the items on the floor.
"Because that's SO much better." Naruto snarked dryly.
In response, Erza merely shrugged and continued to clean up the trashed up room without even being asked to, much to Kalawarner's curiosity. Neither of them seemed to like this particular arrangement very much, and the swordswoman's tone actually seemed to imply that that had been a frequent topic of argument between two of them.
"Our argument aside…" Naruto sighed and leaned on the wall as he inspected the two fallen angels, "What am I supposed to do with the two of you?"
"I do not understand how that is your concern." the blue haired beauty replied coldly, "I am indebted to the old man, not to you."
"That's a fair point." the blond conceded tersely, "But out of curiosity, when you mentioned that the two of you have been hiding, should I assume that the two of you have been hiding out in this town to stay away from Azazel and his men?"
"Of course." The blue haired woman scoffed, "We supported Kokabiel and attacked someone on Kokabiel's orders. We're basically traitors to our people, and going back to Kokabiel is basically suicide considering how he normally treats his most loyal soldiers, much less failures."
"Ahh… so you are not aware of the fact that Raynare's still alive?"
Kalawarner blinked slowly, and for the first time since he had stepped through the door, he saw her carefully crafted mask of arrogance crack slightly.
"Ra-Raynare is alive?"
"And doing fairly well actually."
She narrowed her eyes at him while Erza quietly stepped next to Naruto, sensing some hostility coming from the Fallen Angel, "Should I thank you for taking care of her like a prisoner?" Kalawarner spat out with a slight growl.
"If you're implying I tortured or did anything to her short of making sure she survived, then you can save it." The blond said dryly and without rancor, "Granted, I was the one that ripped off her wings and put her in that situation in the first place, but she's staying with Azazel at the moment and recovering."
"And then what? You wish us to surrender to him as well?"
"That's entirely up to you."
Kalawarner snorted, "And while we stay here, you just go find Azazel and tell him exactly where to find us."
"No I won't." The blond stated quietly as he folded his arms, "If you wish to stay out of this whole affair entirely, then that is up to you. I will of course, tell Azazel that I know that you and Mittens over there are safe, if only to give him some peace of mind I suppose, however what he does with that information is not my problem."
The Uzumaki glanced at Kalawarner pointedly, "However, if you are that reluctant in going back, I am willing to offer you a deal."
The tall woman worried her lower lip as she watched him with an eagle's eye for any suspicious moves that would clue her in on his motives.
"Deal?" She prodded cautiously.
"Assuming you do not hurt the old man, and in exchange for protecting him when I'm not around, I'll protect the two of you from anyone who wants to force you to leave, Azazel included."
Kalawarner snorted derisively, but Naruto simply shrugged, "I sincerely doubt he wants to punish either of you. Talk to you, yes. Punish you for disobeying him? Maybe. But hurt you? Highly unlikely."
Kalawarner's lips may have wobbled a little in relief, but Naruto couldn't really tell.
"If you try and hurt us, I'll make sure no one finds your body." She jutted her chin out at him defiantly, "You might have defeated Raynare, but we know what you can do now, and we won't make the mistake of underestimating you again."
"Do you now?" The blond murmured with amusement.
The two of them watched as Kalawarner flicked her wrist.
Smiling smugly, she opened her fist and let a few buttons fall out of her palm with a significant look at the blond.
Naruto's lips slowly twisted upwards with a faint smile as he glanced downwards and took note of his open shirt, devoid of buttons.
Nodding at her without the slightest sign of being intimidated, he waved lazily, "Erza, there's a store room on the second floor that isn't being used at the moment. It's at the end of the hallway and next to the old man's room. Can you help me clean it up a little while I talk to the old man?"
Erza nodded stoically, "Would you like me to procure furniture and bedding for them as well?"
"I'll just pilfer some from Azazel later." Naruto commented lazily as he headed for the small room behind the kitchen that functioned as the old man's office, "He won't mind. Probably."
Justs then the old man poked his back in with and squinted at the four of them suspiciously, "Should I assume everything went well seeing as how everything is suspiciously quiet?"
"Depends on what you define as well I suppose." The blond hedged with a slight grin.
"As long as the place is still standing and the three of you are ready for work, I don't really care what you three do to each other outside of working hours." The old man answered bluntly.
"Then yes, everything is perfectly fine." The Uzumaki grinned in a highly unsettling way that reminded the old man of a mischievous fox planning something either really painful, or really embarrassing, or both."
"Also, don't expect me to pay if you're going to hire that girl in the armor as well."
"Of course." Naruto replied agreeably while Erza merely quirked one eyebrow at the strange old man who hadn't even seemed surprised that she was clad in steel and leather, "By the way, can you come here for a moment?"
The old man walked through the curtains curiously, "What is it?"
"Here." Clasping the old man's hand, he dropped a small piece of fabric in his palm, "Kalawarner wanted you to have this."
The blue haired beauty blinked with mild confusion as she stared at the strange piece of balled up cotton.
It was blue, it was lacy, and the longer Kalawarner looked at it, the more familiar it seemed to be.
All the blood drained from her face as she discreetly felt around, only to go even whiter as she realized that her underwear was missing.
Her eyes shot towards the grinning blond who was calmly adjusting a black choker around his neck embedded with a gleaming gem.
Even while hurt so badly, he was still so fast that she hadn't seen him move a single muscle, and yet...
"KALAWARNER-CHAN I DIDN'T KNOW YOU THOUGHT OF ME LIKE THAT!"
The arrogant sneer was completely wiped off her dumbstruck face as the old man hurled himself at her with surprising agility.
"Wha-wait! WAIT! STOP HUGGING ME!"
Naruto calmly stepped out the door and locked it behind him with a happy whistle.
"Did you really steal her panties while she was wearing it?" Erza asked with a disgusted look in her eyes.
"You're as bad as Ise-san."
"Nope." His smile widened even more as he heard the sounds of plates breaking behind him as Kalwarner screeched.
"So how was your meeting with Serafall?"
The swordswoman quirked one brow, "You knew?"
"You have her scent on you." The blond observed blandly, "She probably gave you a few more hugs than necessary."
Erza sweat dropped as she recalled the small girl squeezing her with deceptive strength until her armor creaked, "It was just our usual weekly meeting." She glanced at the impassive blond as the two of them meandered down the road, "She did mention that she probably won't have the time for another one our meetings until next month."
The blond merely raised one perplexed brow, "What do you mean by 'that's it'?"
Erza scowled at the blond, other than that one brow, his face was as blank as a bank vault and she could not tell if that bit of news had affected him at all or not, "You're not curious at all?"
"If you mean that she'll be busy because she has to prepare for the Christmas concert later next week, then I already know about it." The blond smiled wryly, "Even if she didn't tell me herself it's hard not to notice all the posters around the Underworld."
The swordswoman flushed, she hadn't thought he'd figure it out himself.
"So you're not at all upset that she didn't mention it to you?" Erza prodded a little further.
"Why would I be?" the blond replied blandly, "She's perfectly capable of dealing with everything on her own."
"She'd probably bit a little encouraged if you let her know that you're thinking off her no?"
Naruto eyed the flushing woman curiously, "Did she say something like that?"
"Not really." Erza admitted, "I just thought I'd…. erm… help?"
Naruto chuckled, "You suck at it."
Erza sighed and rubbed her temples, "Yeah." She conceded.
"Besides, I already sent her a little something."
The tall woman felt a tic on her left brow starting to pulse in time with the headache developing in her temple, "So…. All that pretending to be obtuse was just that? A pretence? What the hell for?"
"Because watching you stumble along like that was stupidly hilarious."
"I hope you die in a ditch somewhere."
"Sorry. Plenty people have tried, so I'm fairly sure it's going to take a lot more than a wish to kill me."
"Just like a cockroach."
"The most awesome cockroach ever." Naruto amended with a half grin as the two of them arrived at Azazel's Casa Angelus.
Casually, the blond opened the door and promptly froze in the doorway while Erza let out a quiet little gasp.
Azazel looked up at the sound of someone opening the door and then waved once before returning his focus to the large high definition screen he had installed on the wall just for gaming.
"Naruto, where'd ya go?"
The blond glanced at the Fallen Angel along with his two friends and seemed to forcibly unstick his grip from the door knob before shrugging, "Here and there. Don't mind me. Just stopped by to pick up some stuff I needed."
Sirzechs grinned, "Why don't you and your friend come and sit down with us for a bit? We even have some cold beer." He sighed happily, "It's been a while since I could just sit back and relax like this."
The third member of their trio hummed agreeably even though he was pointedly ignoring the beer in favor of focusing on beating up Azazel's character on the screen.
Naruto shrugged, "Maybe just one." He waved at the door, "Erza, would you mind getting the pillows and blankets from that room for me?" He passed her a piece of paper, "If you can't carry all of them, just store the stuff in this seal."
The aforementioned woman swallowed thickly as she ignored the thick sense of danger emanating from the third person in the room long enough to give him a wintry look, "Do I really look as if I would have trouble storing pillows and blankets with magic?"
The blond chuckled, "I was just being polite. If you feel that much about it, then just pretend I didn't say anything."
Letting Erza do her stuff, the blond came over and accepted a can from Sirzechs. Popping the tab on the ice cold beer, he took a large gulp before sighing in satisfaction, "That really hit the spot after today."
"Oh? Something happened?"
"Your sister for one." Naruto noted dryly, "And two Exorcists carrying Excaliburs." He was not surprised to note that all three of them were not surprised in the slightest, "Which is probably the reason why you're here isn't it?"
The blond man on Azazel's left, who was probably the owner of the most unnaturally beautiful face Naruto had ever seen, chuckled lightly, "You would not be entirely wrong."
"Neither of them know you're here do they? Or they wouldn't go around like that acting like it's a secret mission or something." The blond observed dryly.
"To be fair, I'm just here to discuss something with Sirzechs and Azazel." The beautiful man commented, and Naruto was amused to note that even his voice was beautiful, "The fact that the two of them are here while I'm around to ensure nothing untoward happens to either of them was simply a bonus."
"Hmmm…" Naruto took another sip as he watched the Leader of the Ten Seraphs play a simple human video game with the General of the Fallen Angels while the Leader of the Four Satans was essentially spazzing out on the couch next to them.
Glancing around, he noticed Raynare who was peeking out from a corner, glaring all three of them when Erza reappeared again.
"I'm done, Master." She noted hesitantly, her red eyes flickering over to to Michael's beatific smile before returning stoically to Naruto.
Naruto gulped down the rest of his can before standing up again, "Thanks for the drink guys. I'll see you later." He said with a lazy wave as he left with Erza in tow.
Michael's bright blue eyes momentarily flickered to the door before returning to the game.
"You told him about our monthly meetings?"
Azazel just shrugged, "I didn't say a thing."
"And yet his biggest reaction to me was a raised eyebrow." Michael observed with amusement, "He's an interesting one."
"You should be happy all he did was raise one eyebrow. When he met me, he forced fed me pipe cleaner." Azazel glared at a shamelessly grinning Sirzechs.
"Entirely warranted I presume?"
"I might have turned his house to rubble." Azazel admitted reluctantly before he jumped up and whooped as he finally won.
"Then you probably deserved it no?" Michael merely smiled good-naturedly as he handed the controller over to Sirzechs, he never got to play this game as often as the other two, so he was always losing.
"Speaking of which, do you remember that Gear I made with the Shard you gave me?"
Michael blinked and then leaned forward with greater interest, "The one that rejected every user so far?"
"Actually, it would probably more accurate to say that no one with even a shred of common sense in their head would even consider choosing a Gear that only lets them steal someone's panties provided they are within line of sight."
"I'm pretty sure Rias' pawn would disagree." Sirzechs commented with a grin.
"I said 'anyone with a shred of common sense'. By definition, that automatically excludes dragon boy."
"Ignoring the boy's preferences, he chose the Gear?" Michael cut in, hoping to stop the two of them from bickering long enough to answer his question.
"Pretty much." Azazel replied.
"And? It accepted him?"
"Well yes?" Azazel frowned, "I'm not sure what you want me to say. There weren't any special lights, no flash of power, nothing. As far as things went, it was a perfectly bog standard and anti-climatic Gear installation."
"Hmmm…. Interesting." Michael smiled thinly as he leaned back into the couch to watch his friends play the game while his mind raced on other matters.
The Uzumaki and the armored woman next to him stopped as a huffing Raynare caught up with them.
"Yo. It's been a while."
Raynare looked at him weirdly, "I saw you just last night."
"It feels like it's been a while though." Naruto commented absent mindedly.
The dark haired Fallen Angel which was wrapped up in a scarf and a tight blouse that emphasized her figure shrugged, the blond tended to let his mind wander at times, "Where are you two going?"
"Me? I'm going to drop by the shack for a while to set some stuff up before I start building because I get the feeling that I'm going to be a little too busy in the near future to think about something as luxurious as that." He gestured at Erza, "She on the other hand, is going back to the shop to pass some stuff to a couple of new employees."
Raynare eyed the taller woman curiously, "I see…"
The three of them walked silently until they reached the town again where Erza bowed slightly to Raynare, "It was nice to meet you Raynare-san. But I would like to finish my errand before I go home."
"She's… a lot more tolerant of me than I expected a Devil to be." Raynare muttered as the red headed woman left the two of them at the crossroads.
"I think she's just finally getting used to the people I tend to hang out with." The blond commented with amusement.
"Good for her. She's going to need it." The seductive Fallen Angel scoffed under her breath.
Naruto folded his arms and peered at the Fallen Angel, "So what's really up with you? It's rare to see a NEET like you come running out of the house."
"Who the hell are you calling a NEET?!" Raynare shot back sulphurously before she shuddered, "And really? You can ask me that after literally sitting down to have a beer with three of the most powerful men in existence and having a casual chat with them? I can barely stay in the same room as the three of them without my skin feeling like it's about to be sanded off. Even your friend was sweating buckets just trying to stand up straight."
"It's not that I'm not affected." The blond noted dryly, "I'm just somewhat more used to being in the presence of really powerful people than the average person. Besides, Michael seemed like a fairly pleasant person. I think."
"I'm a little biased since almost every single pretty boy I've met has tried to kill me in one way or another," The blond admitted with a half grin, "So if my track record holds true, I'd probably give it a month before I find out that Michael's trying to hatch some overly complicated plot that involves my first born child, a summoned deity and my painful death that will serve no purpose whatsoever in the grand scheme of things."
Raynare stared at the blond as he completed his rant with a perfectly deadpan tone and started to giggle helplessly while the blond simply smirked.
"So? That's just me. What's your beef with the pretty boy angel?"
"I wouldn't call it beef per se." Raynare hedged with a slight smile, "I just think that he's changed quite a bit. He was a lot more uptight, and very very strict. He was basically the guy who made sure everything worked perfectly, down to every alphabet, and when things don't follow the plan he made, it wasn't strange to see him breathing fire and brimstone at whoever was dumb enough to make a mistake in front of him." She shrugged with an offhanded gesture, "The fact that the last time I saw him, he was trying to cut me in half right down the middle with a big fucking sword made of purest light doesn't really help either. And yet, he's being all calm and easy going and idiotic with those two other idiots."
"Most people would consider that a good thing." The blond pointed out conversationally.
Play AKINO - PRIDE Nageki no Tabi
Raynare frowned as the three of them arrived at the site of Naruto's former shack, "The General of all Fallen Angels, the First of the Ten Seraphs and the Leader of the Four Satans all in the same place, and what are they doing? Playing video games like disgraceful humans. Most would consider that insane rather than a good thing."
Naruto merely eyed her blandly, "And what is wrong with that? Are they not allowed to have a life outside of those empty titles?"
The Uzumaki shrugged, "I can't say if it's really the case, but don't you think that those labels are just that? Must a Fallen hate an Angel? A devil? Must a devil consume souls and drink blood? Must an Angel be completely and perfectly pure and serene? Because from everything I've seen, from talking to you, to Azazel, to Sirzechs, all I see are just people who feel like everybody else. People that love, that hate, that get angry, that are happy to be doing what they love."
He smiled thinly, "Sure, some of them are a little irrational, some just want to kill and burn stuff and some just want to have sex all day long, but how is that any different from what you consider to be normal, ordinary human beings?"
Naruto sighed and knelt down to clear away some rubble, "At the end of the day, we're all people. Whether we are Fallen, Angels, Devils or humans, our personalities were shaped by our experiences and the way our most fundamental nature internalized those experiences."
The Uzumaki blew a resigned sigh out softly, "Some come out of it better and stronger people, some get sick of it all and walk away, and then there are those who decide that they just want everything and everyone to hurt like they did. I've seen people twisted into things that would disgust any Devil, I've seen Devils that are far more benevolent than Angels and I've met Fallen who just want the fighting to stop so they can live like a normal human. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what or who you were born as. It's what you choose to do with what life has given you."
"It might be the wrong choice, or it might be the right choice, but no one can decide that but you." Naruto shrugged as he heaved a large part of what used to be his bedroom wall aside, "So if you tell me that those three idiots should be doing something far important than playing games and being someone normal for a while, then my question to you would be "What would you choosedo if you were them?"
Raynare stewed in silence with a troubled expression as she watched the blond hum to himself as he continued to move the rubble aside to make way for his new home.
She frowned at him, "Why are you doing that? You can make clones can't you? Why can't you make more and speed the building up or something?" She asked sullenly.
"Clones that only do simple errands like buy food don't use up much of my chakra. And what I do use, I can reabsorb anyway with my current level of control." The blond replied calmly, "But clones that are durable and strong enough to construct something would take more chakra than I'm comfortable using at the moment."
Raynare frowned, "What about your…" she gestured at the coffins that she knew was floating behind him even though she couldn't sense them, much less see them, "batteries?"
"They're batteries for a reason, Raynare." The Uzumaki observed dryly, "They're not infinite. And when used, still take time to recharge. If I use them willy nilly to do everything, the only thing I can do in combat at the moment is wave my limp dick at whoever I'm fighting, and while I'm sure they'd probably eventually curl up in shame and inferiority or drop to their knees and gush like a fire hydrant, I'd really rather not get called a pervert."
She cocked one eyebrow at him, "You carry around coffins with you, you regularly do insane things that even Kokabiel would probably be embarrassed about like streaking in broad daylight even if it IS with someone else's face, you have this terrible habit of stealing everything that isn't nailed and sometimes even being nailed downdoesn't stop you from somehow stealing it anyway, and you're worried about being called a pervert?"
"A man has to have standards." Naruto replied airily.
"And yours happens to be almost non-existent." She observed sarcastically.
"At least I have some."
Raynare grunted silently.
Naruto smiled thinly, "Is that all you wanted to ask or did you want to start another random topic so we can fight about it all over again because you're feeling confused and belligerent?"
She glared at him while the blond chuckled.
"It's still stupid." The raven haired woman muttered under her breath, "Why do things slowly like a lowly human when you can summon your clones and make things faster?"
Slowly he stood up with a crooked smile and waved.
Before her very eyes the trees slowly bent forward and entwined its branches around the block of concrete before lifting it away easily.
Greens and leaves sprouted out of the ground and began to grow at an accelerated rate, pushing away debris before forming into beautiful spiraling pillars that formed the skeleton of a comfortable little home before branching out to form the walls of a quaint little wooden home.
"I can make clones yes."
Naruto snapped his fingers wearily and the trees promptly stopped moving like puppets that had their strings cut.
"Or I can do that."
He slowly spread his hands and clapped them together, summoning earth to rise up and clamp down like a torrent of liquid mud, until they suddenly hardened into another nearly completed home next to the wooden pillars.
"I can do that too."
He smiled at her and then waved once, allowing the stone shack and the wooden shed to wither away into dust.
"But I won't."
Kneeling down again, he began to move the rocks once more.
"I can think of at least a thousand ways to build a house right now with just my chakra. I can do it as fast as I wish, but I won't, because to me, an orphan who has never really had a home of his own, there's no meaning in something like that. It's a home where I am going to stay, and more importantly, perhaps have a family. It is not something I will do lightheartedly. So I will build it with my own hands, brick by brick, with my own pride."
He wiped away some sweat and smiled lightly, "It may not be the most efficient choice, or the right choice to you, but it is to me."
Erza who was leaning under the tree watching the two of them from a distance simply smiled thinly.
She had earlier asked her best friend why she seemed to trust the blond so much. Even after spending some time in his presence, the best thing she could have said about him before this was that he at least usually had a reason for anything he did, even if that reason seemed to be conflicted with his actions.
Serafall's only reaction had been to pass her an amulet and then suggest that she watch the blond while he didn't know she was there.
Erza had thought it to be either a pointless task or another one of her best friend's tricks.
Most, including herself, had considered him disrespectful, uncaring, mean spirited and maybe a little too happy to revel in tricking other people to the point where they thought he was a sociopath or at best, a hypocrite. They wouldn't exactly be wrong truth be told.
In most cases, he really was exactly that, usually because he did not consider whatever he was dealing with important enough to put any effort into it, and he wore that persona like armor to hide the fact that he was just as vulnerable as any of them, perhaps more.
It was only when the chips were down that the peculiar blond showed that he was so much more than the façade he showed everyone else.
That said, it was almost impossible not to notice that the blond had been in a particularly good mood ever since he had acquired an equally peculiar, somewhat bloodthirsty and rather narcoleptic kitsune as a familiar.
He provoked, he tempted and sometimes, he outright manipulated people into looking deep into themselves, into understanding their own actions and then he left them wondering what the hell just happened.
She wondered how Serafall knew.