So, I thought I'd take this time to answer some questions both about the story and for me. I was asked what songs I listen to for Leoni's powers and how they affect him. Well, I actually listen to a lot of Initial D when writing fight scenes. Just gets me pumped. It's cheesy, I know, but it gets me in the right state of mind. Also, as mentioned in the last chapter, with the different musical terms, they more reflect how his power is used. Not how music affects him. Also, I am going off of the anime universe, so just be aware that if there are any characters you are looking for that don't show up, run it by me, and I'll do some digging. I was asked if there would be a chapter that focuses on the guys. Well, I've been toying with side chapter ideas like that. Especially with the summer training coming up for the group. But I will mess with ideas like that. To address something from chapter one, regarding the Issei Vs Leoni fight, in the anime, it is acknowledged that devils have much higher strength than humans, as well as Issei knows how to fight after being through so much, so it is no surprise that Leoni didn't do much to him. Also, no, I won't go nuts with the exemption piece. In fact, I'll be revealing more details on it soon.
Leoni sprang from his bed quickly, turning off his phone. In the distance, he could hear the obviously intense battle taking place between Xenovia, Irina, Rossweisse, and these unknown enemies. Supposedly, they were demons. But especially with Issei's reputation, who would attack the house of Gremory for no reason? Of course, there was the Chaos Brigade, but they were more neutral at this point than anything.
Leoni hurried outside quickly, only to be met with a flurry of purple spear-like objects. He shielded himself as best he could, and ducked into a nearby alley. The attacks kept dropping like heavy rain, focussed more on the street than anything else. Leoni carefully checked the situation. It appeared that the attack was barely doing any damage to the houses. And they weren't weapons belonging to a fallen angel. That confirmed that they were most likely devils. But, what house, who they were, or what they looked like prevented that theory from being actually proven. Besides, why wouldn't the attack damage the house?
As he thought about these questions, Leoni summoned his ZweiNacht in a green flash. It was time he made at least somewhat of a dash for more reliable cover. He started his Tempo boost, and began a dash through the storm of blades. As he did, he managed to see the attacker. It was a woman, with purple hair that reached probably down to her waist, and was braided. She had a scar running horizontally across the bridge of her nose. She had piercing green eyes, and what looked like an aggressive gaze. She wore a black coat, and a dark red tank top underneath. She also wore dark blue skinny jeans. It seemed as if she noticed him as well, as her gaze was locked on him as he looked at her. Leoni internally panicked.
He rolled into cover as quick as he could. Strangely enough, the onslaught stopped as he regained footing. He saw Irina and Rossweisse dealing with another enemy far in the distance. Issei ran past with Rias and Akeno, not seeing him. Akeno stopped for a minute, and looked at the house. She yelled something inaudible, then ran inside. Issei and Rias soon followed. This meant two things, the others were safe, and...whoever was shooting earlier, had either left, or was hiding. Leoni turned around, checking the area. Nothing in sight at the moment. If Irina and Rossweisse were okay for the moment, he assumed the purple haired woman's target was Xenovia. So, the next course of action was to find Xenovia. Leoni hadn't seen her, so she may have been hurt.
He ran down the stairs leading to the up to the street. It was dark, with only a few lights. He hurried to the middle of the street, and looked both left and right, seeing if there was anyone nearby. Again, no one to be seen. As he turned to leave, a voice, a little quiet, but crisp, sounded behind him.
"That gear...where did you get it…?" The voice spoke. It was easy to tell it was more feminine.
Leoni turned around quickly, and backed up, cautious. It was the purple haired woman from before. She seemed calmer up close, and although her gaze was as intimidating as before, it seemed almost genuinely curious, with no malice. Leoni, although careful, decided to answer her question with his own.
"Tell you what...I answer you, you tell me your name, and why you're attacking." He asked her, relaxing ever so slightly.
She pondered this for a second or two.
"That seems fair. I see no problem." She responded with a half smile.
"This gear showed itself to me when I wanted to protect someone important."
"I see...this person...is it the head of the house you are an exemption piece in?"
Leoni laughed. "Surprisingly, although it's my duty to protect the head of the house, no."
She tilted her head, her hair falling from her shoulder. "Then who was it…?"
Leoni, once again, laughed a little. "That's not how this works. Your turn to answer a question."
She giggled at that. "True. My name, is Eva Rose, and I belong to the organization Destiny Omega. We attacked, because we want to understand why you were chosen as an exemption piece."
Leoni ran the information through his head once more. "Eva...Do you intend to destroy the house I'm part of?"
"If need be, yes. Anything to assure that you will come with us."
He began to back away. "Not on your life. I'd rather die than abandon the people who gave me another chance at my waste of a life."
Eva giggled. "And who said they didn't plan all of this? That you aren't just a replacement of another piece? You don't know anything of how the life you love so much now came to be."
Leoni had heard enough. He gritted his teeth, and shot a bolt of energy at her, which she simply side stepped.
Eva tilted her head."Is that what we've resorted to? I simply want to understand you, Leoni."
"Shut up!" He responded. "I won't have you talk that way about me, or my friends!"
Eva smiled. "If that's how you feel…Let's dance." She summoned her gear, a set of 6 kunai, with rubies in the middle, and gold blades.
The two circled for what seemed like an eternity, then Eva charged forward. Leoni pivoted on his right foot, as Eva slashed and missed, and he threw his fist into her stomach with a quick jab. She staggered, and Leoni took his chance.
"Arpeggio!" He commanded of his weapon. He threw 3 solid punches, each stronger than the last. The first connected with her gut again, the second connecting as an uppercut to her chin. As the second strike came, the gauntlet charged with energy, and launched Eva into the air with a powerful blast. Eva was left winded, and unable to act yet again. Leoni followed up with a jump into the air, and clasping his hands together for a heavy downward hit.
"Accent." He recited calmly. His hands lit up again, striking her hard, sending her down, and creating a crater in the road. She gasped for air, but quickly got up, launching the same assault as earlier. Leoni was caught in the air, and was pummeled quite a bit before being thrown into a nearby wall. He got up slowly, before returning to his stance. Eva was pretty hurt, while Leoni shrugged off her attack like it was nothing. Eva realized she was outmatched at her current state. She dismissed her weapons, and looked at her cuts and bruises. She winced, and shook her head.
"Impressive...I shouldn't have underestimated you, Leoni. I will meet you again one day...and hopefully, you will join us…"
"Wait. What even are you all?" He asked.
She sighed. "Exemption Pieces...abandoned by their masters...we're just like you, Leoni."
And with that, she slowly faded away, fragmenting into flower petals in the wind. Leoni lowered his guard. However, Eva's questions troubled him. The origin of the Exemption Piece was still a mystery to him. Plus, how was he selected to be in Rias' house in the first place? How did they find him? Rias passed by the staircase, and saw him. She gasped, excited.
"Akeno, Issei! He's down here!" She exclaimed, running down. Akeno and Issei were quick to follow.
Rias gave Leoni a hug. "We heard they were after you,and I assumed the worst. Especially because of how tired you were today...are you alright?"
He showed no real expression, and just looked away. Akeno became concerned.
"Leoni…?" She asked.
"...if a piece is killed, can a house head replace them with someone else…?" He finally responded.
Akeno looked at Rias. Rias was a little confused, but answered as best as she could. "Well...of course…"
"...Have you ever had another Exemption Piece?" He asked, looking at her, concerned.
She looked a little surprised. "Of course not…"
"Alright...I...I need some questions answered."
The group, including Irina, Rossweisse, and Xenovia met back at Leoni's home. Apparently, after Eva left, so did the other attackers. Leoni tried to make tea, but Akeno insisted she take over. So, he pulled up chairs and tables for everyone to sit down.
Irina looked extremely tired. "I...I've never seen power like that…"
Xenovia nodded. "I had an extremely hard time keeping up...Those devils were no joke."
Rossweisse changed back into casual clothes instead of her armor. "Who were they, though?"
Leoni stared at the ground, and quietly repeated the name Eva told him.
"Destiny Omega…" He recited once or twice.
Issei overheard him mumbling. "What?"
Leoni said it louder. "Destiny Omega...They're an organization made of Exemption Pieces abandoned by their masters."
Rias looked shocked, then looked away. Leoni noticed, then stood up.
"Rias, explain why Exemption Pieces were not allowed 8 years ago." He demanded.
Issei stood up to defend Rias. "Hey, calm down. Don't treat her like she's at fault for their attack."
Rias shook her head. "No, it's fine. It's about time I explained anyway."
Rias took a sip of her tea, and a deep breath.
"A long time ago, Exemption Pieces were the norm. Even my brother had one. Unfortunately, there was one Exemption Piece that stood out among the rest. His name was Nova Marco. The gear he possessed was one unlike any other. But, he began to slowly go insane, throwing fits when he couldn't actually kill the other pieces in a rating game. He even attacked his fellow pieces. Slowly, he tried corrupting other Exemption Pieces to think the way he did. That they could overthrow the devils, angels, and so on. We decided to seal Nova away, to prevent him causing further chaos. But Nova became even stronger, and broke the seal. So, we had to kill him. We lost many good devils that day. We then decided that we needed to stop using Exemption Pieces. So all Exemption Pieces were no longer allowed, and were dismissed. We brought them back, because there were so many people that held great potential, but could not be added to any roster."
Leoni looked away. "So because of that one person, you forced the houses to abandon their Exemption Pieces…forced tons of people who had grown close with one another to break apart…"
Irina spoke. "I don't think they had a choice...at that point, they couldn't tell who Nova had affected, or if anyone would try what he did…"
Leoni looked at Irina. "Then what am I…? A do over…? Another try at a dangerous concept...a lab rat?"
Rias looked offended. "That is not at all what you are!"
Leoni responded, angry. "Then let me ask you, how did you find me in the first place!?"
Rias attempted to speak, but nothing came out.
Leoni asked again. "Well!?"
Rias suddenly looked guilty. She turned away from him.
Akeno spoke for her. "She saw you were moving here, and saw your potential after investigating! Simple as that!"
Leoni shot a glare at Akeno, which hit her pretty hard, emotionally.
"That's garbage, and Rias knows it." He said, venom in his voice. "Tell me the truth. Tell us all the truth."
Everyone turned to Rias, expecting an answer of one way or the other.
"...Leoni is right...We found him through a familiar months before, and decided that because he was moving here, we would test to see if an Exemption Piece could be used again...I didn't find him after he decided to move here like I initially implied...In fact, there were several issues financially preventing him from coming here, so we pulled strings to clear the path, so to speak. But, that doesn't mean…!"
Leoni's face said everything Rias needed to know. Tears were starting to well up in his eyes from pure anger and betrayal. Rias quieted herself. Akeno stood up, shocked, and tried to comfort Leoni, touching his shoulder. At this, he snapped.
"DON'T YOU DARE!" He yelled. Akeno winced, and Rias jumped a little.
"I don't know what I can trust anymore...I let myself enjoy this time with you...get to know you...then I find out that this was planned. I was a kid being scammed out of his allowance by a bully he thought was his friend. I truly thought I was special, and then, I learn this. Then, I learn that my entire time here was fake. Worthless. I bet the moment something went wrong, you would drop me like every other Exemption Piece was. I may as well go to Destiny Omega."
Rias stood up. "Leoni, I can't let you do that. You are special! You-"
"Then kill me."
Everyone stopped, and looked at Leoni. He was deathly serious.
"I said, then kill me. End me, right now. So you can have an Exemption Piece you actually want. Instead of a test drive. After all, haven't you monitored enough? If you're done with the tests, and you're satisfied, then just wipe me off the Earth. It'd be better than being abandoned, and left to know what I do, and watch my fake family grow up without me."
Irina began to cry. "L-Leoni….No...why would you say that…? I'm not a devil, and they're still my family-"
Leoni gritted his teeth. "Do you know what it's like to grow close to someone, then learn you were never meant to be a part of their lives!? To be left like this, knowing you don't actually have anything to offer to anyone, and that everything you have was simply an experiment!?"
Irina winced. Everyone remained quiet.
"...DAMN YOU!" Leoni screamed at Rias after what seemed like an eternity. Rias stayed quiet, looking down. Leoni slammed his fist down on the table, shattering a teacup and dish. His hand began to bleed.
"And what If I become like Nova!? Would you even care if I were to die!?
Rias finally worked up the courage to talk.
"Leoni...I...it's true that I planned meeting you, but I have enjoyed every minute of having you here! We all have! And we don't want you to leave! I feel awful about lying, But…"
He was still furious. "But what!? It was your duty!? To mess with my life!?"
Rias responded quietly. "No... I did pick you out...I wanted to have you here. We all agreed...I could have gone with anyone else...You belong with us. Your family. Please, I'm sorry. I should've told you...but I didn't want this exact thing to happen."
"...how can I trust you again? After all this?" Leoni seemed to calm down.
Akeno spoke up. "If you don't want to trust her, trust the rest of us! We didn't know either."
Xenovia agreed. "We won't just abandon you. I promise. We enjoy having you as a friend too much."
Issei, always the fun one, smiled. "Besides, you're my harem apprentice! I have tons left to teach you!"
Leoni calmed down, and began picking up the shattered cup. "...It's very late. You can all stay here tonight...I'll make breakfast tomorrow."
Rias smiled. "Thank you, Leon-"
As she went to hug him, he brushed her aside, ignoring her. Rias was a little hurt that her friend would do that. But then again, considering what just happened...
Akeno came up and hugged Leoni. Leoni hugged her back, and smiled. The rest of the group cheered up, and Leoni calmed down. He even told really cheesy jokes to Irina to make her laugh, as he didn't like seeing her cry. Akeno pulled Rias aside.
Rias smiled. "I'm glad he cheered up. Although, I wish he didn't-"
"How could you?" Akeno demanded.
"You not only lied to him, but to us. Do you know how hurt both he, and the rest of us are?"
"Akeno, I'm sorry...I know you like him alot, but I couldn't just tell him he had no choice in where his life would lead him."
"So what? You need to be honest with him, and us. I doubt he'll want anything to do with us for the next few days."
Akeno sighed. "Please. We all enjoy having him here. Don't hurt him or us and break everything...I'm sorry for getting angry, just...be more understanding, and careful."
Rias nodded. "Alright...I understand."
With that, they entered the room again. Leoni was laying out bedding for the girls, as the house had 3 bedrooms. Irina and Rossweisse were gossiping about his looks behind his back, While Issei was getting pillows. After a little bit, Rias stepped in.
"Here. Let me help, Leoni." She said, pulling the bedding from him, and helping as much as she could. Leoni was still pretty quiet. But after Rias was done, she continued to help with other odds and ends. Leoni felt a little bad for yelling.
"Hey, Rias…?" He nervously asked. "I'm sorry for getting so angry…"
Rias smiled. "Leoni, it's fine. I should be the one apologizing. I lied to you, and it was an awful thing to do."
He waited a minute, then smiled. "Yeah. It's fine."
The group watched a movie, until Xenovia fell asleep, then turned it off. Issei and Rias were in the 1st downstairs bedroom, Irina, Xenovia and Rossweisse were in the 2nd. Akeno insisted she stay with Leoni. As the two lay in bed, Akeno surprisingly clothed this time, he found himself unable to sleep.
"Akeno…? What if….what if I do end up becoming like Nova…?" He asked her.
She was cuddled next to him at the time, and sat up. "You won't. No matter how strong you get, I know you'll always know us as your family."
"But...what about Destiny Omega? They seem fixed on having me there."
"Well, I won't let you leave us. You know you would miss us."
Leoni smiled. "True…"
Akeno laid back down, curling up against him again. After a few minutes, he fell asleep. The following morning, he woke up at 8:00 AM to make breakfast. As he sat up and began to get out of bed, Akeno grabbed his hand.
"No...five more minutes, Leoni…" She said, probably still half asleep.
Leoni smiled. "I promised I'd make breakfast…"
Akeno didn't say anything, and just held his hand, and beckoned him back to sleep. Leoni gently pulled away, and covered Akeno in another blanket. Then got dressed. To his surprise, Rossweisse was already up, and dressed, pulling things out to make breakfast. Leoni stopped her before she could continue.
"I said I was making breakfast for everyone, remember?" Leoni said, laughing.
"Yes, I heard you yesterday, but you let us stay here, so I figured I'd make it instead…" She insisted.
"Nope. Sit down. I can make it." He ushered her to the nearby table.
Leoni fetched a dozen eggs, and cracked them into a bowl. He began whisking them at a medium speed.
"So…" Rossweisse began. "Why did you get so upset yesterday?"
"It wasn't obvious?" He replied, hesitating at her question for a second.
"Well, sort of. I want to know some more details, if that's alright."
"I guess, it's partly because details were hidden from me. But the biggest part of it was the fact that I don't want to end up like Nova." Leoni confessed.
"Nova? Oh, the Exemption Piece that went haywire, right?" She asked.
"Right. I just can't help but think, what if I go out of control? Akeno told me I wouldn't, but I can't be sure...I'm the first Exemption Piece there has been for years. So there's no telling what will happen. As much as I feel grateful to Rias for giving me a power like this, I keep fearing what might come from becoming too strong…" he admitted.
"You won't become like Nova." A voice said from around the corner.
Rias walked out, still in her pajamas, and her arms folded.
"You're more than Nova ever was. Nova refused to get close to anyone. As a result, his power drove him mad, and he attacked those whom he believed shunned him. You obtained your power because you wanted to protect Akeno, and the rest of us. To me, that alone separates you and him." She explained, smiling.
"R-Rias...But...I can't guarantee that I'll stay like that...that the power won't drive me mad…" He stopped whisking.
"As I said, you won't turn out like that. Why?" She trailed off, walking in the kitchen, and taking the bowl of eggs from him, and starting to whisk.
"Because I know you're better than whatever he was trying to become. Now go back upstairs and get some rest. Akeno is probably lonely in there." She finished her sentence. She kept whisking, and it was obvious that she would not let him talk her out of making the rest of breakfast.
Leoni said nothing, but smiled, and slowly walked back upstairs. As he entered the room, Akeno was beginning to stir again. He changed back into his pajamas, and sat on his bed, not waking her, but just thinking. Sure enough, Akeno noticed, and sat up a little. She noticed he had a big smile on his face.
"Good morning...weren't you making breakfast…?" She asked him.
"Well, I was...but Rias took over. The recipes are on the fridge for her to follow…" He said, a little distant.
"No...quite the opposite, actually" He said, laughing.
"What are you thinking about?" She spoke, sitting up fully, close to him.
"Well...I've realized that whatever power I hold...Is nothing compared to what you all gave me when I agreed to become a devil."
He looked at her, with a genuine smile.
"Well, it's like I said before...I never had a real life from where I came from. I isolated myself. But here...In these short weeks...you all have managed to crack open my shell. Like I was sleeping and you woke me up. I've never been happier in my life. And I feel…"
"Feel how…?" She pressed, curious, and a little moved.
"...Bitter-sweet." He finished, but not letting the smile leave his face.
"Bitter-sweet? Why?" She sounded almost sad. All these questions were sounding repetitive, but she knew it was important to both of them.
"Because, just like everything in life, I know this will end someday. But until then, I can rest knowing every moment is special. And what I will remember in my last moments won't be the people I defeated, and not even the training either."
Akeno smiled at him, and put a hand on his. "I think I know what you will remember, though…"
Leoni laughed again, but this laugh was different, like he was lost in times gone by.
"You're right...I'll remember times like these. Power may be important, but that power is nothing, without people to love you, and support you when you're weak."
"Well, we will always be here." She replied quietly, smiling. "Until our final breaths."
Wow, this one took me a while. Sorry bout that. Is there a regular upload schedule you would like me to have? Let me know! I opted to go for more of an emotional roller coaster this chapter, and get the main villain group set up. And I got a couple people asking how Leoni was found in the first place, so i decided to address that here. I listened to the song "Only In Sleep" when the morning scene takes place, in case some of you were wondering. I have had a couple people ask what I listen to while writing, so, there you next chapter will be up soon, so don't worry. I really hope you guys like me writing this, as it is really fun! See you soon!