New Devil of The Gremory House
Life 20: Gathering
"Okay, several days since we started Gyasuke's rehabilitation and we're coming along well. We finally got him out of his room without having to throw or manhandle him. We convinced him to leave his box. And his Sacred Gear training is coming along smoothly!" Issei noted with a smile. With Rias gone to set up preparations for the big meeting and Akeno assisting her, it was up to the rest of them to watch over the Dhampir's training. With mixed results, "Although then again it hasn't gone as perfectly as we expected. Had to make some compromises."
"Issei-senpai! Look! Look! I have a greater field of vision when I make the holes a little bigger! I'm not gonna keep tripping over rocks and bags now!"
Everyone looked over at the odd sight of the young [Bishop] wearing a large brown bag with eyeholes over his head. He stumbled forward, his footsteps slow and hands out wide as a buffer between slamming into anything. Gasper giggled gleefully at his clever innovation.
The others watching could only gape at the odd relief the vampire found in wearing the bag.
"Excellent work, Gya-kun, you've come so far so quickly."
"Thanks Koneko-chan! I couldn't have done it without you!"
"To celebrate, I got you a little gift. Can you lift your bag please?"
"A-A gift? For me?" He hesitantly lifted the bag but spoke with barely contained joy in his voice, "Koneko-chan, I don't know what to - NOOOOOO! NOT GARLIC! I HATE GARLIC!"
"Come on. Smell it. You won't be able to grow up unless you can do it." Koneko kept pushing the stinky vegetable in his face despite his protests. Gasper turned around to flee but Koneko was hot on his trail, "Smell it."
Yuuto watched the [Rook] chase the [Bishop] around with a piece of garlic, "Koneko-chan has always been close to Gasper-kun. I think it's because they're the same age so they can connect better than we could to either. They're really sweet actually."
"K-Koneko-chan," Asia called out, "Don't chase him too much! Gasper-kun might trip!"
"S-Sweet?" Issei questioned as Gasper cried out in fear, "You know I've never thought to ask but is Koneko-chan possibly sadistic?"
"Better not to ask." Naruto piped up, "But if you're still interested, you might wanna ask about that one."
"Are you trying to run away from our training?" Xenovia announced sternly. The blue-haired warrior strode forward with a mighty gait and her Durandal at her side. She hefted the blade up and pointed it at the vampire, "Do not attempt to escape from me! I shall make a fearsome, respectable warrior out of you, or severely cripple you in the process!"
"T-That doesn't inspire confidence though, Xenovia-senpai! I want to grow stronger with your help as well," The vampire trembled on his feet, "B-But can you not look so scary and intimidating while you do it!"
"There are only two ways I'll stop, Gasper! Either you stop me with your Sacred Gear..." She let the tip of Durandal fall and uproot the ground beside her, "Or I finish the job."
"So these are the friends you were talking about? Gotta say it feels like you fit with them pretty well."
"Shut up." Naruto muttered under his breath while they watched Xenovia chase her target around. Once again he was convinced of just how terrifying the Church warrior could be when she put her mind on a single target. He should know that better than anyone, "Surprised to see you awake already."
"I don't know what's wrong with me. I can't help but fall asleep whenever I get the chance. I feel more drained than usual."
"That's especially surprising considering you just woke up from a two-year nap."
"It wasn't a nap! I thought I was dead!"
"Yeah yeah, you keep saying that." He muttered under his breath before looking back up to watch the 'training session' go underway. The whiskered man looked to his side to see the odd looks he was getting from the juniors while Xenovia and Koneko continued to chase Gasper. He crossed his arms, "What?"
"Naruto-San, are you feeling well?" Asia asked with clear concern in her voice as she looked up at him. The sweet girl titled her head, "You looked like you were talking to yourself."
His body went still as a drop of sweat ran down his temple. It was quickly replaced with a blush of embarrassment as he realized he had been speaking out load in his conversations with Kurama. It was a habit he hadn't quite kicked yet, trying to get accustomed to the voice in his head again that was so clear and present that it felt like someone was really there talking with him. He tried to reel back his shock - not any easier by the fact Kurama's cackling was echoing in his head, "I'm fine Asia, totally fine. I'm just...talking to the voice in my head."
"You mean Kurama-San, right? The demon in your body that recently reappeared?" Yuuto questioned with a curious tilt of his head, "It has to be interesting to have your old companion returned to you like this. And you're not certain about how this change came to pass?"
"No idea." He shook his head, "One day it was quiet, the next I realized I had the voice of the grumpiest asshole across multiple earths grousing in my ear." Said voice growled in annoyance but Naruto ignored it with a smile, "I don't know how it happened but honestly I'm happy. He's back, and I'm glad he is. I want to figure out how he came back, and I'm pretty sure I wanna give who did it my thanks."
"Koneko-chan, are you okay? You're face is all red! Are you sick - AHHH! NOT THE GARLIC AGAIN!"
"Is Kurama-San listening to us right now?" Asia looked up at him with wonder and amazement in her eyes. She beamed a smile up at the taller blond and almost sparkled with joy, "Can we speak with him?"
"Um, he can't exactly do it face-to-face." Naruto shrugged, "I mean he can hear and see you-"
"Oh, I understand!" The earnest [Bishop] stepped back and pinched the helm of her skirt before giving a polite courtesy, "It's an honor to meet you Kurama-San. My name is Asia Argento, and I am a new friend of Naruto-San. Actually through some circumstances I've been designated as his little sister b-but that's not important right now." She nodded her head with a smile, "I hope we can get to know each other a little better."
Okay, so Rias wasn't the only oddball that was using him as a telephone.
Yuuto stepped forward and politely bowed in a gentlemanly manner to his fellow Devil, "My name is Yuuto Kiba, a [Knight] under the service of Rias Gremory-sama and sworn comrade of Naruto-San. I want you to know that he will be watched over and protected by his friends. So I hope we get to know each other, Kurama-San."
"Oh, so it isn't just that redhead you're trying to court that seems to be off their rocker."
"Asia, Kiba, it's probably for the best that you don't play into his delusions like that." Issei spoke up with a smirk as Naruto snarled in annoyance, "Talking to the demon sealed inside his body from another dimension? How is that not a classic chuunibyou scenario to make fun of?"
Naruto frowned, "I'd kick your dick back up inside you if I had any idea what this chuunibyou shit was."
"But Issei-San, don't you sometimes talk to the ultimate red dragon that resides in your arm? I hear you talking sometimes."
"D-Don't bring that up, Asia!" The perverted [Pawn] muttered as he tried to hide his blush and ignore Naruto's chortle. The brunette coughed into his hand before pointing to the side, "Hey, can we stop getting distracted for a second! If you guys forgot we're out here for a reason, remember?" His point was proven when Xenovia broke a section of the ground and Gasper screamed at the top of his lungs in fright, "We really need to focus on getting his Sacred Gear under check."
"Seriously, you kids got any idea how dangerous a time-controlling Sacred Gear can be without proper guidance? On a related note, what's up Naruto?"
The Gremory peerage froze in surprise and looked over to see their sudden guest walk out from the forest. Yuuto and Xenovia were quick to draw their swords, Koneko raising her fists in front of a cowering Gasper, and Issei guarding Asia while summoning his gauntlet. The mix-haired Fallen Angel raised his hands peacefully, "Whoa, quick reaction their kiddies. Gotta say I'm impressed to see the new generation isn't taking things lightly. But please don't punch or cut me up; I really like this yukata."
"Don't fight." Naruto looked between them to motion them to lower their respective weapons, "Seriously, we thought that bleached asshole was enough pain but this guy is like ten times worse in a fight." Azazel gasped and thanked him for the compliment before Naruto turned his glare on him, "What do you want Azazel?"
"Geez, do you think everything I do comes with an ulterior motive?"
"Well I was just surprised." Naruto crossed his arms, "All the other leaders are getting prepared for that big meeting and you're out here spying on us? Shouldn't you get to work?"
"Pfft." The Fallen Angel Governor-General scoffed, "Kid, I pretty much invented the last minute rush. I'm gonna breeze my way through, reach the night before the meeting, and then bullshit my way through everything to absolute perfection. Settled."
The young Devils looked between each other with uncertainty. Issei lowered his arm, "You know this is a gathering between leaders you set up to talk about the current state of things, right? Maybe you shouldn't be bullshitting things so carelessly?"
"This is an incredibly important meeting with the fate of a lot of peoples' lives on the line. I'd rather you not be so cavalier about it." Yuuto added as the rest of the peerage muttered and nodded in unanimous agreement.
"Meh." Azazel just shrugged before his eyes immediately narrowed in on something worthy of attention. He slowly walked past Naruto and approached the [Knights]. Their swords clicked when their hands tightened but Azazel just cupped his chin, "Hey, this is the Holy Demonic Sword you summoned in your fight with Kokabiel, isn't it? Man this is beyond miraculous craftsmanship. No way in hell this thing could exist if the big guy stomping upstairs was still around. This isn't the Balance Breaker of Sword Birth though, so it must be a Sub-Species Balance Breaker. Remarkable."
"You shouldn't get so close. I may be tempted to move my blade forward and who knows what kind of incident that might cause."
"Heh, fair enough." Azazel's eyes turned to Gasper as the little vampire squealed, ducking behind Koneko who narrowed her eyes and raised her fists. The Fallen Angel hummed, "Forbidden Balor View. An awe-inspiring, peerless Sacred Gear. Maybe with a little more training you'll be stronger than anyone else here."
"Gya-kun, fight or flight time. Freeze him."
"B-But Koneko-chan, I can't-"
"We need you to do it." The little [Rook] quietly pressed and looked back at the boy behind her, "Our lives depend on it. I believe in you, Gya-kun."
Gasper nodded and closed his eyes as Azazel chuckled heartedly. Gasper opened his eyes and stared up at the Fallen Angel before the older man's laughing stopped and he froze. Everyone looked at the man in shock before Gasper let out a hopeful laugh, "I-I did it! I froze him with my power! I can control-"
"Psych." Azazel immediately started moving again and Gasper paled in shock, "Just kidding. Long way to go kiddo."
"Never mind Gya-kun, you're useless."
"How about you, Sekiryuutei?" Azazel turned to Issei as Gasper toppled over into a ball of whimpering sadness and pity. They just seemed to ignore it as Azazel approached the [Pawn], Asia hiding behind his back as he faced the Fallen Angel, "I hear Vali has been harassing you lately. Sorry about that. He's in his rebellious phase."
"Phase?! You might wanna think about putting the dog on a leash-"
"No that's another guy I know."
"I'm half convinced he's gonna come to my house one day and kill me where I stand!"
"Hahaha, yeah." Azazel gave a half-hearted nod but didn't argue the point. Issei looked horrified to see the Fallen Angel make no effort to refute his worries before he shrugged, "But I mean you two are destined to fight each other. It was bound to happen sooner or later."
"LATER! I'D PREFER IT HAPPEN WAY FUCKING LATER THAN RIGHT NOW!"
"Don't panic too much. Fated to kill each other in an age long death match is just one very, very large part about being one of the Twin Heavenly Dragons." Issei paled but was quickly brought around with Azazel's follow up, "Another great part is the harems. And the ladies. And the sex. And the orgies."
The horror on Issei's face quickly vanished, "The what?"
"The harems. And sex. And orgies." He shrugged, "It's kind of a big part of having so much power that people are drawn to you. Not many of your predecessors aimed for that part but I'm guessing you'll be very happy to embrace it."
"Yes, yes I will." Issei fervently nodded, "Will they have big breasts?"
"Big. Small. Round. Firm. Squishy. Perky. All the breasts you can imagine and more. All of them will be within your grasp." Gone was the heavy animosity of a young Devil facing the dangerous leader of the Fallen Angels. What remained was a young pupil being swayed by the promises of various mammaries from his wise and traveled mentor, "They'll all be yours as long as you go out and conquest."
"I will!" Issei's eyes watered as he cheered, "I promise I - ow! Asia!" He looked back at the pouting girl with watery eyes as she continued to pinch his arms and side, "S-Stop it! That hurts!"
"She is not amused." Xenovia stabbed her sword into the ground before looking at Azazel curiously, "But I wouldn't mind hearing more about about these conquests and sexual activities you allude to-"
"NO! NONE FOR YOU! COVER YOUR EARS!" Naruto got between Xenovia and Azazel as quickly as possible. She was already forward with physical interactions and relationships as it was. If she interacted with the walking disease book with wings then things would only go badly for anyone in her sights, "And you seem to be talking about everyone else's Gears except the one you should be worried about! Mine!"
"That thing is still intact? Seriously?!" Naruto scowled and summoned his Remote Looper to appear on his arm. When he saw that Azazel gawked and clapped in amusement, "Oh that's awesome! I thought that thing would've broken by now! Most of the others do when they have enough strain put on them."
Naruto looked down at his arm before frowning at Azazel, "Now just out of curiosity - and so I know how hard I should hit you just in case, what would happen if it broke?"
"Well there's a tiny, minuscule, itty bitty chance that your arm would explode. Or implode. I've seen it both ways."
"That sucks, but I would be lying if I said that wouldn't be kinda funny to watch."
"I-Is there a way to ensure that the Sacred Gear Naruto-San has doesn't explode?" Asia bravely stepped up and inquired of the intimidating Fallen Angel, "I-I'm not sure how well I can heal an exploded or imploded limb."
"Well there are a few ways." Azazel nodded, "Constant painful maintenance to make sure it doesn't break. By the way I never got around to tattooing a giant G on your back to show that you are scientific property of the Grigori Special Technology division." Naruto cautiously took a step back, "But maybe you can stabilize it with a powerful existence inside it. Unfortunately I only have a contract with Fafnir and he's in the Gear I use. I could maybe make more contracts but that would be a whole day of other stuff I could do, plus I'll probably want to keep them for other things just in case. So y'know-"
"What about Kurama-San?" Asia helpfully spoke up, "Naruto-San recently reconnected with the demon in his body. Could he act as the catalyst to stabilize the Sacred Gear?"
Oh Asia, if you weren't so precious he'd call you stupid.
"I'll say it then. That airhead is a moron."
"Shut your mouth she's adorable."
"Is that so?" Azazel strolled forward to face Naruto with an curious smile, "I didn't know you had made contact with your little tenant again. I see you finally found someone to fix your energies and set everything right in that crazy sewer system you call your body."
"No I didn't." Naruto shook his head, "Don't know how it fixed itself but I didn't find anyone to help me. Might just be a miracle."
"Right...miracle..." Azazel' eyes panned to the side and Koneko slouched under his gaze, "Anyway, can that demon hear me? What's up. I'm Azazel. I recently kidnapped your current living arrangement and kept him looked up in a bedroom for a brief period of time."
"I'm not a phone! Stop talking to him through me!"
"Sacred Gears bond with the user's soul, body, and mind. It's part of them on every level. I'm sure wherever you are it's connected to that part as well." Azazel continued, "Just look around for anything different. Anything out of place. Anything new and I'm sure that'll be the Sacred Gear."
"Something new?" Kurama sounded skeptical in Naruto's mind, "This place is completely empty. I'm not sure what this moron thinks his meddling is capable of affecting in this mindscape but he's a vain fool for believing - oh wait. Hold on. Well shit he was right. I see a ball of light."
"What?!" Naruto yelled, "He actually found something!"
"Bitching." Azazel smirked, "Tell him to touch it."
"I'm not telling him to touch it!"
"I kinda want to touch it."
"Why do you wanna touch it?!"
"There's never anything in here! There finally is and I can't just ignore it!"
"Sounds like he wants to touch it~."
"He is not going to touch it!"
"I'm gonna touch it."
"GOD FUCKING DAMMIT!"
Issei wore a blank face despite the sudden pain in his head. He turned to the others, "Anyone else think this conversation is really weird out of context?"
Yuuto nodded. Koneko hummed in agreement. Gasper was still a sniveling mess of sadness. Xenovia and Asia were watching intently to see if the creature inside Naruto touched his thing...or whatever.
Naruto closed his eyes and returned to his mindscape to see Kurama reaching out for a glowing white orb. The fox carefully reached out and touched one claw to it before a blinding light engulfed everything around them.
Naruto returned to reality but only to see a familiar bright light blind him, except it was bright orange. The light started to die before finally disappearing as they all uncovered their eyes. Naruto looked down and blanked in shock...
[Huh? That was weird. I thought something interesting would happen.]
The buttons and lights that were once a faded white from Remote Looper were now orange. And they glowed in tandem with Kurama's speech.
[Wait, did something interesting happen?]
"Ohohoho, shit! I didn't think that would actually work." Azazel struggled to catch his breath from laughter before wiping his eyes, "Oh damn I'm good! Okay well I have an incredibly important meeting with the fate of a lot of peoples' lives on the line so I'm off! Tell me how that works outs!"
His sentence carried off into the sky as he flew away.
[What an asshole.]
"Okay. It's almost been a full minute. Just hold out a little longer and-"
Remote Looper popped back up on Naruto's arm as the blond groaned, "Son of a bitch! Kurama, can you get a handle on this please!"
[It's harder than you think! I relax just a little-]
The Sacred Gear appeared and disappeared rapidly from Naruto's arm before it slumped to his side. He heard a quiet giggle and glared up at the woman finding amusement in his circumstance, "This isn't funny."
"You're dealing with your prematurely materializing Sacred Gear as you argue with the giant fox inside you. This is actually really amusing." Rias laughed and looked up to see the unamused frown on her boyfriend's face, "Oh, don't give me that look. It's your own fault for letting that detestable man influence you like that."
"It wasn't me! It was the giant fucking fox's fault!"
"Well why were you talking with him in the first place?" Rias questioned while crossing her arms sternly and unwavering in her stare-off with the whiskered blond. She sighed and shook her head before pulling herself up closer and cupping his face in her hands, "You are okay right? He didn't do anything to hurt you or the others?" The naked concern in her voice made his heart flutter before she frowned again, "I swear if he had anything in mind to hurt you all."
"I know." Naruto pulled her hands off him but kept them in his grasp, "Besides some general harassing and maybe working in tandem to shatter Gasper's psyche with Koneko, nothing remotely bad happened." Rias' frown started to settle as he gave a small smile, "And other than the stupid fox not being able to handle working a Sacred Gear now, everything was fine."
[Go fuck-][-ass until you re-][-little shit.]
Rias looked down and chuckled, "Well you two certainly seem compatible."
"Wait." Naruto looked down at his Gear before looking back at the Gremory heiress, "Can you hear him? Seriously?"
"Yes, although he comes in and out with your Sacred Gear." Rias giggled at the look on his face, "Issei told me something similar with Boosted Gear. The entity inside it, in this case Kurama, can project his voice so either only you or everyone around can hear him."
[Yeah I'm on it. Hold on. I'm...gonna...]
"Don't pop anything."
[Shut up! Okay, redhead girl? You hear me?]
"Yes I do. And you can just call me Rias."
[Probably gonna take a while for me to get there.]
"Hehe, that's fine. So how does it feel to be back with Naruto after all this time?"
[It feels strange having to return to this idiot and the many problems that surround his life. Part of me is glad to be back, but another part fears because I know he's gonna get himself into some shit sooner or later.]
Naruto looked up to Rias and saw her shake her head to show she didn't hear him that time. So apparently he still needed to put in some effort to get the hang of talking through a Sacred Gear. Naruto closed his eyes and delved into his mind to see Kurama holding his paw out to a glowing orange orb. There was a look of pure contempt and vile distaste twisting Kurama's face, an expression he hadn't seen on the fox's face since they had come to work together during the war. He smirked as he walked up to the colossal beast, "How are you holding up?"
"It's baffling!" Kurama burst out, "I can supply chakra to an entire army of ninja and mold my energy to create blasts of unprecedented destructive capability, but trying to talk through this fucking controller is impossible!"
"You suck and now you're trying to prove you can do it if solely for the fact you want to prove it to yourself. Congratulations Kurama, you're just like the rest of us now."
"I miss just having to pump chakra into things! T-This is new! This is different! This-"
"This is putting in effort." Naruto said with a chuckle, "I just realized you've never actually had to work or do anything before. Putting chakra into other people and buffing them up was kinda like breathing air to you. Welcome to the hard working life, Kurama!"
"Go to hell!"
"Been there, not that bad."
The Bijū scowled down at him and focused back on the Sacred Gear. Naruto continued to laugh and the fox mumbled under his breath before looking down at the blond, "By the way we need to have a very serious talk right now. You're not allowed to have any sexual stimulation with your little girlfriend or with yourself until we get these issues worked out!"
"I have a grasp on your thoughts and feelings, and when you aren't stupidly happy with finally having a girlfriend, you start thinking about the gross stuff you can do together. And I know it's gross because your heart beats faster! No way that's happening while I'm still popping up on your arm!" Naruto's cheeks went red, "And no self-satisfaction either! I'm in your right arm too so I'll know!"
"Fuck that! You weren't this bossy before!"
"Well now I'm much more conscious of the physical crap you can do together! And I never had a reason to get involved before because I was locked up behind those bars! Plus what did you get up to back there; fighting and kissing Sasuke!"
"Once! Because someone else pushed me! Do I have to go through everything I've done with Rias to counterbalance that because I'm sure it would!"
"Don't bother! Bottom line, no inserting parts into each other and swapping your bodily fluids or DNA while I'm so aware of it!"
"Just say sex! You make it so much creepier going into detail like that!"
Naruto's eyes popped open when he heard Rias cough. He was brought out to the adorable sight of her with hot red cheeks and shuffling in place in front of him. He was worried something might have made her uncomfortable before he looked down at the Sacred Gear on his arm.
"How...how much did you hear him say?"
"M-Most of it. In fact I think I heard all of it."
[Hey, I'm not as bad at this as I thought!]
"Did you really kiss your friend Sasuke?"
"RIA-TAN, WE CAME TO PLAY!" The door slammed open to Serafall, Sirzechs, Grayfia, and Sona. The short Maou cheered when she looked inside, "Ah, they were in this one! Sorry about the other door, Ria-tan!"
"Hello everyone." Rias greeted, pushing her blush down like a seasoned champion as she faced their visitors cordially, "What brings you all here?"
"Oh come now, is that anyway to greet your older brother?" Sirzechs stepped forward with open arms, "Come. Give me a great big hug like the old days-"
"Serafall-sama, a pleasure to see you again. Grayfia, thank you for making sure he doesn't go out of control. Sona, you seem to be keeping up." Sirzechs hunched over sadly and Naruto gave the older Devil a sympathetic pat.
"I'm well Rias, coping with the fact Onee-sama has been staying with me for her time here." The young Sitri heiress fixed her glass over her eyes, "Sometimes I envy the fact you left your old living arrangements to live in a smaller place like this. Less visitors and squatters."
Rias sighed, "You'd be surprised."
"Enough of that. I hope we weren't ruining a moment between you and Uzumaki-kun." Sona whispered cheekily, "With me being the president of the StuCo it should be expected that I make sure you two understand there should be no fooling around while on campus and to be respectful while out of school as well, but you look so content and cute that I can't bring myself to rain on your parade."
"Y-Yes well," Rias fiddled with her hair, "We're just trying to keep it subtle and simple for now."
"Well you're failing spectacularly." With walking around, sometimes holding hands, Rias running up to greet him after class, and always giving him a bento while trying to feed it to him, the whole school was in on the secret. It was sickeningly sweet to see her friend so giddy with her boyfriend; emphasize particularly on sickening and sweet.
"Naruto-kun." Sirzechs wiped his eyes of tears and faced the young blond with a smile, "I'm glad to see you again. I heard you started going out with Rias. I'm expecting you to treat her nicely."
"Yeah, and remember to stay away from So-tan!" Serafall popped up between them, "Because I'll say it again! So-tan's hot, lithe body is mine and mine alone to conquer!"
"Onee-sama! Stop saying that to everyone you meet!"
[Heh, these are certainly some characters. Might wanna hold off about how badly you want to court the redhead's sister into doing illicit sexual activities for the time being.]
Everyone was staring at the Sacred Gear on Naruto's arm before looking back up at him. He stared ahead blankly and without emotion.
[I-I swear I wasn't trying to talk out loud that time.]
Well this was going to be a fucking ordeal.
Naruto, Issei, Yuuto, Koneko, and Gasper all gawked at the sight of the man seated in their club room. Asia and Xenovia were gawking for complete shock, admiration, and joy at his presence.
"Welcome everyone. I know this might seem a little surprising, but before you have any ideas this is not an invasion or a hostage situation." Rias walked around the couches and held Akeno's shoulder as the busty [Queen] sat across from their surprise guest, "I also know we should be wary of this man just like Azazel, but for the life of me I find him more bearable than that arrogant jerk ever could be."
"I can understand that." The refined, beautiful man sitting on the couch while enjoying a cup of Akeno's tea had an air to him few of them had ever experienced before. Long perfect blond hair reaching down his back in elegant robes and armor. He was a handsome man, and besides his body that almost seemed to be glowing there was the fact he had a halo floating over his head. He stood up from his seat, showing everyone just how tall he was before bowing his head to them, "Greetings everyone, my name is Michael. I am an Angel and the current leader of Heaven."
"Asia!" Issei cried out as her legs gave out beneath her as she almost fainted.
Xenovia mechanically stepped up to Naruto's side and gripped his shoulder, "Naruto, I need you to hold me."
"I-I don't think right now is the time for you to try and - whoa!" Naruto caught the blue-haired [Knight] as she fell into his side and held her before she could topple over. He helped her stand back up, "What's wrong with you?"
"I-I never thought I would meet Michael-sama in the flesh!" Asia struggled to stay conscious and looked up at the glorious Archangel.
"It's amazing! H-He's so radiant and glowing! Truly The Lord's Magnum Opus!" Xenovia stuttered, something they had never seen from the usually brave and brash swordswoman.
"Now now, no reason to make a fuss." Michael politely waved his hands in hope of quelling the two former Church members' of their unstoppable joy. The leader of Heaven lowered his hands and smiled warmly, "I doubt your [King] will appreciate the sight of you singing the praise of a foe, even if hopefully that won't be our situation in the near future."
"It's fine, Michael-sama." Rias responded respectfully to the older man. Considering he was the leader of the Angels and she was a pure-blooded Devil they were expecting her to react negatively with her polar opposite. However it seemed that Rias found the Angel likable - or at least bearable enough - to allow in her clubroom, "Don't ask of them the impossible. Trying to make my [Knight] and [Bishop] anything other than loyal believers in the Church is a waste of time and effort."
The two girls flinched, realizing what they were doing before bowing their heads and delivering their apologies to their [King]. Rias took it with a smile before pointing behind her, "If there's anyone you should be thanking it's Akeno."
"I live at a shrine and one day Michael-sama contacted me. He wanted to set up a meeting with us. I was actually quite surprised, but it seemed innocuous enough. Speaking of innocuous..." Xenovia and Asia looked at her with innocent, grateful expressions that made them look like children getting their favorite toy for Christmas. Akeno's face took on a small blush and she squirmed in her seat, "S-Stop looking at me like that. Those pure, sweet expressions...it makes me feel so in control...it feels like it would be so easy to corrupt them..."
"Okay!" Naruto and Issei quickly swooped in to grab Xenovia and Asia before things could escalate. The whiskered [Pawn] looked over at the Angel questioningly, "You seem really nice and everything, but why are you here exactly? Right now all you've done is make it hard to stare directly at you and paralyze two of our friends."
"I suppose I have been rather idle about my purpose here today." The Archangel turned to Issei as the brunette flinched under the sudden attention. Michael held out his hands, "With the meeting between our three factions coming up soon, there is a very real chance for peace now. So I would like to extend an offering to you in hopes that we can put our differences aside and come together."
A bright light blinded all the people in the room as a magnificent object was summoned into the Angel's hand. Once the light faded the Devils were greeted with the awesome sight of the blade floating over his palms. A long European sword with a sturdy guard and golden hilt. The Devils marveled at the sight of it but Issei unconsciously flinched when he sensed the danger from it, "What...is that?"
"This is Ascalon. The Holy Sword wielded by a saint of old to slay and fall dragons. A single cut could tear through their scales. A weapon built to combat the strongest creatures in existence." Michael spoke before holding his hands out to Issei, "I wish for you to have it."
"That's right. So you know we won't ever think of using this to hurt you in the future, I wish for you to take it and use it for good."
"But why me?" Issei asked, "I mean that Vali jerk is on the Fallen Angel side. It probably would have meant the same thing if you gave it to him."
"Yes, we considered that. However on further inspection we realized that you had a stronger heart and sense of good, so you would be able to use this blade for the right reasons. So of course there was little doubt after that-"
"You're giving it to me because I'm weaker, aren't you?"
"I didn't want to sound rude, but yes."
Issei's head hung low and Asia comforted him with a pat on the head. His head was then hugged closely into Rias' breasts as the redhead encouraged her depressed [Pawn], "Now Issei, I know it might sound unfair but you have only had your Sacred Gear for a few months. Vali has had access to his for years so of course there would be a difference in skill and experience. If he tried to attack you, you'll need as many advantages as you can have. So I would accept the gift while you can."
Issei was released from her grasp and looked up at the magnificent sword. He gulped and reached out for the blade with a shaky hand. The others watch with anticipation as their [Pawn] almost grabbed the sword before pulling his hand back. They all looked at him in confusion before Issei looked up at the Archangel, "Thank you for your consideration and your gift, Michael-sama, but there is someone more important than Ascalon that you can offer."
"Yeah." Issei looked down guiltily before turning around to face his peerage, "There are a few people here who were hurt greatly by the Church and its faculties. I'm sorry but if you want to bridge peace, then you have to at least apologize to them."
"Issei!" They were all horrified by what the [Pawn] suddenly said to one of the strongest leaders of the world. Rias reprimanded her servant, "You can't say something like that-"
"But I think he's right." Naruto said from beside him. The whiskered man look up at the Angel, "I understand it must be hard being a leader in charge and looked up to by so many people. It's a lot of people, right?" There was a unanimous nod to answer his question, "Okay, so you can't be everywhere to help everyone. I get that. But letting Asia get kicked out of the Church because she helped someone outside your faction? Xenovia being excommunicated just because she knew the secret about God? All the shit Kiba had to go through?!" Naruto shook his head, "I understand you probably didn't have anything direct to do with these things, but they still happened! Letting people be treated like this and not doing anything about it isn't leadership, it's negligence!"
"Naruto!" Rias stepped up to his side and slapped his arm. The blond didn't back down from her tone even as she turned and bowed apologetically to Michael, "I'm sorry about this. They still have a ways to go learning proper etiquette and manners-"
"Naruto-kun?" Michael repeated and looked at the blond with a curious smile, "Azazel and Sirzechs mentioned about an odd fellow from another world. Quite strange to be chewed out by someone from a different earth." He looked back to Issei and saw the nervous look on the brunette's face. The radiant Angel nodded before stepping past them to face other members of the peerage.
"I had to take over the position of leader after my father died in the war. I've done the very best I could, and had help from many people I'm sure I would've failed without, but even so I've always known I couldn't properly fill the spot he left behind." The perpetually sad eyes of the Angel leader were joined with a sad smile as he continued, "I've never been able to hear every prayer. I couldn't help every person that asked for me to help them in their time of need. And because of my inability to act in every situation, many of our followers had to start acting on their own. I am blessed to be followed by some of the most loyal followers in the world, but some of them interpret how they must act as being in the best interest of the Church and Heaven." He turned to Asia, "From thinking that helping another group outside of the Church is tantamount to betraying us." He looked to Xenovia, "To being excommunicated simply by being privy to a secret you learned while faithfully carrying out a task." Finally turning to Yuuto, "To even believing that making sacrifices and allowing tragedies to occur in the name of the Church would be for the betterment of it. Many of these matters I'm only aware of after the fact...and never do I feel like I've failed my job more than when I found out there were innocents harmed by my negligence."
The Devils looked at one of the most powerful men in existence with sympathy. To be burdened with so many lives and unable to help them all. They could see just from his expression and his tone of voice that he was a good man placed in an unfavorable, unbearable situation. But he would dare not leave it because it was a duty he had taken up; both for his fallen leader and father, and for the people that still believed in him to help them everyday. Naruto and Issei looked at the Angel sadly as Xenovia, Asia, and Yuuto stared up at him after his speech.
"Yuuto Kiba-kun." The Angel bowed his head to the blond [Knight], "You should never of had to experience such evil and tragedy from our priests and leaders. I know there is no apology I could give to appease your anger, but I can promise that I won't let anything like that happen again, and I'll make sure that the pieces of Excalibur are used for the betterment of mankind. The legacy of your fallen friends will never be forgotten."
Yuuto tried to remain composed and simply nod at the promise, but his eyes unconsciously started to water. To hear his friends wouldn't truly be forgotten or abandoned made him feel warm. Feel better about the tragedy he had attempted to overcome. He felt something tight and looked down to see Koneko and Gasper holding his hands. He smiled sadly and squeezed back in return.
"Asia Argento, it is not a sin to help people even outside of our faction. I wish I could have said this to you all those years ago." Michael apologized, "Your heart is pure, and its love for all of God's creatures shines through each time that glow emanates from your hands. Your kindness, selflessness, and care for others is on a level comparable to that of a saint. I know you may have mixed feeling hearing about this from the man that lead the people that called you a witch, but you are a child of God. And you best exemplify the love he felt for others every day you help them."
Asia's eyes spilled with tears and she gasped before sobbing. Even though she cried she didn't sound sad or melancholy. She wept with joy, and a relief as a weight that she had carried on her shoulders was lifted off with the Angel's kind words.
"And Xenovia..." He turned to the final person wronged by his factions mistakes as he lowered his head, "I am sorry but I did have a say in your excommunication. The secret about my father, about God's death during the war, was only to be known by members of the Seraph and the highest ranking members of the Church. Even for someone as trustworthy and loyal as you, if the secret had a risk of being leaked then the system of prayers and answers that I still keep up from God could be badly affected. The result would lead to chaos. So we acted as quickly as we could. But that wasn't fair to you. You deserved so much better than that. You were a loyal follower, a devout believer, and one of the finest warriors that have ever graced our halls. And I'm sorry...sorry we couldn't trust you as much as you trusted us."
Xenovia stared silently at the bowing Angel before looking around at the others. She seemed stunned by the fact she had received an apology from the head of her former religion, and a sincere plea of forgiveness from the mighty Archangel. The blue-haired warrior took a shaky breath, keeping any water from falling from her eyes as she summoned Durandal to her hands. She held out the handle to Michael and bowed her head, "Michael-sama, I never returned this to you before I left. I believe you should take it back."
"No." Michael immediately denied to her surprise, "That blade chose you, and it still believes you are the most trustworthy to wield it. Besides...I'm sure you are destined for great things with it in your hands. If you can do something with it for the benefit of others, then it belongs in your care."
A tear finally broke through her restraint and ran down her cheek. Even so Xenovia smiled and nodded, "Michael-sama, I don't blame you for excommunicating me. I knew your reasons had to be for the good of others. And I wasn't abandoned. Never truly. I found somewhere else to go. Somewhere else I can be taken in."
"I did as well." Asia wiped her puffy red eyes and smiled, "Michael-sama, I know I may now be on the side of Devils, but I won't forget the teaching the Church gave to me. Love. Understanding. Faith in others. I will carry them with me for the rest of my days."
Michael smiled fondly, "I still regret what happened to you both, but I am glad you found a new home you love so much." The two girls nodded and smiled at the Archangel. The golden-haired man stepped back up to Issei and summoned Ascalon again. He handed it to the [Pawn] and smiled, "My apologies to them should never have been requisite for coming to peace. It was a matter I should have always come around to face. I still want you to have this blade, Issei-kun, and I want to thank you for speaking up to me about your friends' wellbeing."
"T-Thank you, Michael-sama. And I'm sorry for being so brash with you."
"I'm sorry too." Naruto apologized, "I didn't know this was weighing on you so heavily."
"Don't apologize. I'm glad you said it. If we want this era of peace to come to fruition, we need to face the mistakes we made and make up for them." Michael smiled and looked between the peerage, "You may very well be able to help fix those mistakes in the future. So please help us set things right in the future." They agreed and the Archangel gave a small nod before his 12 golden wings extended from his back. The Angel disappeared in a flash of light and left the Devils alone in their clubroom.
"Ow!" Naruto flinched when a hard slap slammed into his shoulder as he cradled it in response. He looked back to see Rias' frown with a magic circle over her hand, "What did I do?!"
"How about talking back to the leader of the Church like that?! What were you thinking?! You could have risked the meeting talking like that!"
"He seemed cool with it."
"I know but..." Rias sighed, slapping Issei on the arm as well before shaking her head, "If this turned out badly I never would have heard the end of it from Onii-sama and Grayfia."
"Right, my bad. The words sorta just came to my head and I started talking."
[Always has been a problem with you.] Remote Looper appeared on Naruto's arm as Kurama spoke, [I think half the trouble you've been in over your life could have been avoided if you just shut the fuck up.]
Rias crossed her arms and chuckled, "I refuse to believe it's only half."
"80% should be the bare minimum for him." Akeno's casually stated with a little smirk at Naruto's scowl, "90% on a bad day."
[Oh, now this is a surprise.] Eyes turned to the other heavy growling voice that filled the room. Issei's Boosted Gear appeared on his arm and the green jewel within the red gauntlet lit up with every word, [I wasn't expecting you to actually be able to speak through the Sacred Gear properly. I'm impressed.]
[Oho, looks like I'm not the only one doomed to be sealed in one of these stupid gadgets. And who might you be?]
[I am Ddraig, the Welsh Dragon, the Red Death, and more commonly referred to as the Red Dragon Emperor. You?]
[Kurama, the nine-tailed fox. The beasts that raises tsunamis and topples mountains with a swing of a single tail. Try to measure up.]
[Well you certainly seem confident.]
[And with good reason. So, I guess since you're the only other being chained to these silly devices and these simple mortals we should converse a little. Tell me, how did you end up on that worthless human's arm?]
[Oh I razed the land to ash and forced all three sides to stop fighting in order to deal with me. They cut my body into pieces and bonded my soul to this Gear for all eternity. What about your physical form?]
[Fuck if I know. Probably blew up with everyone else in that giant explosion.]
"This is amazing." Rias muttered under her breath in an attempt to not interrupt the unprecedented conversation going on in the ORC room. Xenovia, Asia, and Gasper also watched in stunned silence as the two beasts dwelling in the Sacred Gears spoke together, "We may be the very first people in history to listen to a conversation between a Heavenly Dragon and a demon from an alternate reality!"
[Trying to talk through this thing sucks! Any advice?]
[Years of practice.]
"That maybe true," Akeno shook her head with a giggle, "But unfortunately it isn't as riveting a conversation as we may hope."
Yuuto nodded, "Quite mundane listening to these two ancient beings talk actually."
"Lackluster." Koneko agreed.
[If you can recognize us as ancient, then you better show your respect maggots.]
Naruto scoffed, "Stop trying to show off."
[Shut up I'm trying to talk.] Kurama whispered out even though the voice carried across the whole room, [In my thousand years of life I have faced down countless formidable soldiers and ninja. I have weathered infinite techniques and walked out without so much as a scratch. I-]
[Wait.] Ddraig interrupted curiously, [Did you say 1,000 years? You've been alive for 1,000 years?]
[Hahaha, that's right? What? Has the sheer length of my existence terrified you-]
The room went silent after the sudden explosive cackle coming out of Issei's arm. The brunette stared down at it in surprise and looked around the room before speaking, "Um-"
[What? What do you find so amusing?]
[You are merely a babe!]
[Only a thousand years and already trying to boast! Adorable!]
[You dare mock me you overgrown, fire-spitting lizard!]
[I'm sorry lad, did I hurt your feelings?]
[I tower over villages and scale mountains!]
[The ground quakes when I release my breath!]
[I'll put that right up there on the fridge.]
[S-Shut up! Naruto! Help me with this!]
"Wow Kurama, are you being bullied?" Naruto poorly attempted to stifle his laughter as the fox growled, "Want me to talk to his parents?"
[Stop patronizing me and help you bastard!]
"I can't exactly stop a disembodied voice, Kurama." Naruto stood silently before shrugging and cracking his knuckles, "I can beat up his host a little if it makes you feel better."
"Don't you dare Senpai!" Issei panicked and waved his hands wildly, "Ddraig, shut the fuck up!"
[I'm sorry! I don't usually get to have fun like this!]
"Oh, I take it back." Akeno's giggled as Naruto chased Issei and Ddraig laughed at Kurama. The rest of the peerage watched the odd scene in shock, "This just got much more interesting."
||||||||Omake: For Better or Worse||||||||
"Yuuma-chan~! Can I get another hamburger steak please?"
"On the way!"
"Nothing, I just wanted to see that lovely face again. Ah~, I can die happy now."
"Geez you're awful." The lovely black-haired girl giggled as the old man's wife slapped him across the head for his lingering eyes. The young woman then felt a pull on her skirt and thought someone was trying to cop a feel, but look down to see a little girl with a red face. She fixed her skirt and bent down to face her, "Yes?"
"A-Amano-San?" The little girl held out a drawing of a smiling stick figure with black hair. She waited until Yuuma took it before muttering, "Y-You are the prettiest lady I have ever seen! A-And I hope I get to be as pretty as you one day!"
"Aww, thank you." Yuuma kissed the girl on the cheek and she squealed before running off to join her friends. A group of boys and girls were looking around the corner and greet the girl when she came back. Yuuma giggled and pocketed the piece of paper before seeing another group take their seat at a table, "Hello, my name is Yuuma Amano and I'll be serving you today. How have you been, and is there anything you'd like?"
"Oh we've been a little swamped but nothing too bad. As for our order we would like three coffees and a milk for the little one."
"Milk?! I want coffee!"
"Don't argue Mittelt. You'll never grow up if you don't drink your milk."
"Hehe, okay. I'll be right back." She paused and looked between them before tilting her head in confusion, "I'm sorry but I feel like we've met before. Have we...no, I'm sorry. I'll go grab your order." The group of patrons watched Yuuma walk back to the cafe with their order. On the way they watched her happily greet her customers and smile while she did.
"Azazel-sama, why have you brought us here?"
"I wanted you to see her." Azazel said between the three fellow Fallen Angels as they lowered their gazes. He looked back up and saw the exuberance and kindness emanating from her smile. A kind and pure smile that he had never seen the woman show while under his guidance. The older man sipped from his cup and let the warm taste of the brew seep down, "I wanted you all to know that she was okay."
"But she isn't herself." Dohnaseek growled with clenched fists, "Her wings were destroyed. Her mind was broken. We aren't looking at our friend anymore; it's just an empty shell of what she once was."
"An empty shell no longer burdened by the deaths she has witnessed or even the ones she has caused." Azazel smiled fondly, "A girl that can finally live her life away from constant conflict and do whatever she wants now. I didn't want it to happen like this, but that doesn't mean it was a bad thing."
"She...we were just trying to do what we could to help you."
Azazel looked solemnly down at his coffee before scoffing, "I know...and that's one of the reasons we have to make this treaty work."
Kurama isn't just in there for shits and giggles. One step at a time everyone.
Thank You and Bye