IMPORTANT A/N AT THE END OF THE CHAPTER!
Issei groggily opened his eyes, feeling an odd mixture of fatigue and refreshness.
Just as he sat up on the bed with a groan of exertion and stretched his upper body in normally uncomfortable angles to get rid of the kinks, his mind caught onto a detail that wasn't in his daily routine.
Asia, Raynare and Rias weren't on his bed with him.
Curiousity settling in, he got up and took a look at his phone to see the time.
"Huh...?" he muttered in confusion. "How come did I sleep for ten hours straight and nobody woke me up...?"
"You hadn't noticed it, partner, but you had accumulated too much fatigue and stress in your system. Your body tried to extract them on its own in your sleep. Another two hour nap after lunch should complete the process." Ddraig explained calmly.
"Oh." Issei breathed dumbly with a matching blink of his eyes. "Good morning, Ddraig." he added as an afterthought.
"Good morning to you as well, partner." the Dragon replied casually, before retreating to his own world.
The brunet was about to greet his other tenant, but the loud snore he heard in his mind made him pause for a moment, before he shook his head in amusement.
He put on his scarf and a pair of grey tracksuit pants, before he went to the restroom for his morning business. His nose and ears told him that Rias was still at his house. More specifically, she was in the kitchen, helping Raynare and Asia to prepare lunch, under his mother's supervision, while his father was in the living room watching the news on television.
On a side note, he was glad that Rias seemed to have absolutely no problem with Raynare.
Well, nobody from the Devils had, now that he thought about it. Even Akeno seemed mostly accustomed to the Fallen Angel girl for some reason. Especially since the latter was utterly indifferent to all of the Devils; aside from Rias and Asia: she was on obviously friendly terms with those two.
With that last thought, Issei exited the restroom and made his way downstairs and towards the kitchen to greet the majority of the house's residents, silent as ever.
"Good morning, everyone." he greeted nonchalantly as he took a seat at the table, a small yawn escaping his lips involuntarily.
To their credit, none of the women got scared by his abrupt appearance.
""""Good morning, honey~/Ise-san/Ise/Ise-kun!"""" Akane, Asia, Rias and Raynare -in that exact order- greeted him back in various ways of happiness and matching smiles on their faces, before they turned back to their tasks.
The brunet couldn't stop the warm smile that came on his face at the greeting he got.
A moment later, his father joined him at the table, sitting at the opposite end of its 'head', yet right beside his son, both of them content with silently observing the animated females of the house working on their lunch.
As Rias was waiting for a half-full pot of water to boil, she remembered a suggestion she had made to her contracted magician before the Rating Game. "Okaa-sama?" she called out with one eye paying attention to the pot and the other on the Hyoudou matriarch.
"Yes, Rias-chan?" Akane called back as she approached the redhead, mindful that Asia and Raynare were cutting vegetables behind her back. "Do you need something?"
"Two things, actually." Rias responded conversationally, gaining the undivided attention of the original Hyoudou family, while the other two girls pretended to be oblivious and focused on their tasks.
Akane spared a moment to look at her husband and son in confusion. Unfortunately, it seemed, she wouldn't get any answers from them, since they shared her sentiment. "What is it, dear?" she asked as she faced the redhead again.
"Nothing too serious." Rias reassured her with an easy tone and a matching wave of her right hand, accompanied with an equally relaxed smile. "I just remembered a proposition I had made to Ise about you two weeks ago, while we were on our trip for our assignment." she explained airily.
Issei's eyes widened slightly in recognition as to what she was referring to. I had honestly forgotten about that! he thought to himself in surprise, before he schooled his features as another thought came to him. But I can't let Rias know about my deal with Azazel. Not yet, at least. So, let's just hope that kaa-chan will refuse the offer.
"Proposition?" Gorou muttered in confusion as he looked at his son for some kind of explanation.
The Hyoudou patriarch's voice drew the attention of the two conversing females and upon seeing where he was looking at, they looked at Issei too.
Seeing three pairs of eyes on his person, Issei gave a small sigh in defeat, before he spoke as he focused a relaxed gaze on his mother. "Well, Rias thought that you could work for her family as a cook, kaa-chan. Truth be told, the proposition was for me as well, but, at the time, I had told Rias that we would discuss this some time after our assignment. However, as the days passed, I forgot about it." he elaborated thoroughly in the redhead's stead, his tone nonchalant; including the part about his lack of memory on the subject.
Akane and Gorou looked at each other in surprise for a moment, during which Rias sent her contracted magician an adorable pout that he forgot about their agreement.
Asia and Raynare giggled quietly as they continued on their tasks.
After getting out of their surprise, Akane and Gorou had a silent conversation through their eyes alone, which lasted only half a minute. The result of that was the Hyoudou patriarch to shrug his shoulders helplessly as if to say 'Do what you want.' to his wife.
Sighing in defeat at her husband's lack of help -in her mind-, Akane turned to face Rias with a complicated expression. "I don't know about this, Rias-chan. After I got married to Gorou-kun, I stayed at home to take care of our home and my husband, while he works so that we can live comfortably. I haven't thought about getting a job ever since." she replied honestly.
Rias seemed disheartened over the answer she got and Issei cursed his guarded heart for being so soft at the sight, because it made him feel a small pang of hurt and guilt.
So, after heaving a heavy sigh that drew the attention from everyone in the room, the brunet spoke in what he hoped to be a comforting, yet serious tone. "Kaa-chan, if you want to get this job, me and tou-san won't stop you." he briefly paused to glance at his father, who nodded at him with a proud smile that he took the initiative in this situation, before he focused back on his mother and continued in the same tone. "You don't have to worry about me, since you know I can take care of everything and everyone in our home. Plus, Ray-chan and Asia-chan are big girls and they too can take care of themselves. Rias too, whenever she comes over."
Even as he spoke, Issei had another thought about his interference. Well, it wouldn't hurt for kaa-chan to have another source of income, aside from what I agreed with Azazel. After all, it'll be the same with tou-san and partly with Ray-chan.
At this point, after hearing Issei's encouraging words towards his indecisive mother, the attention moved to the latter, with Rias being internally grateful at her contracted magician and outwardly hopeful that Akane would accept the proposition. Asia and Raynare had stopped their task for the moment, unable to focus on it due to the conversation, while Gorou sent his wife an equally encouraging nod to help her decide what to do about this sudden opportunity.
Truth be told, Akane felt a little pressured over the matter. Especially since it was so suddenly brought up by their guest. However, she was old and experienced enough to know that opportunities like that normally don't come up. It's like it was a 'once in a lifetime' kind of thing and she honestly didn't want to pass up. Also, it would rise some of the burden her husband had for so many years in terms of workload and finances for their home.
"Alright, Rias-chan, I accept." Akane said with a decisive nod, accompanied with a small, still a little unsure smile that noone bothered to comment on.
All the other members of the household smiled warmly at the matriarch.
"Great!" Rias smiled beautifully as she spoke cheerfully. "Then, I'll have a word with the higher-ups from the school, so that you can come as a cook at the Academy's cafeteria!"
"""""The school?""""" five different voices asked silmutaniously in confusion.
"Yes!" Rias' smile widened and seemed quite proud. "My family, the Gremory family, own Kuoh Academy, so I have some influence! Also, if I convince them for you to take the job, you won't have to work far away from your home and you can be back right after school hours end!" she explained in almost animated excitement.
It went without saying that the fact that Rias' family owned Kuoh Academy was a surprise to everybody else. Although, Issei believed that he should have seen something like that coming, considering that Rias was the main Devil in charge of Kuoh town and that her brother was one of the four Maou.
Nonetheless, this was an even better opportunity than Akane and Gorou could have hoped for. Because, honestly speaking, while happy that they had two 'daughters-in-law', the expenses were demanding and Gorou's improved income alone wouldn't be enough. Especially since 'Rias-chan' practically lived with them ever since the children had returned from their trip for an unknown assignment that the parents didn't want to know about.
That said, the redhead gave the parents -especially Akane- a golden opportunity on the best quality plate, so they had to repay her in some way.
"Then, if that's the case, tell your family that we will take care of you in our home, Rias-chan. In other words, you'll come to live here and we won't take no for an answer." Gorou said in a tone that was a mixture of demanding strictness and parental kindness.
Akane was the only one unfazed by his words and nodded in agreement.
The 'kids', though, were another matter entirely. They were caught completely off guard and, thus, their eyes widened in disbelief and their jaws almost slackened as they dropped towards the ground.
Including Rias, of course.
However, once the redhead regained her bearings, she wore a radiant smile and hugged the matriarch for all she was worth. "Thank you, okaa-sama!" she exclaimed happily, already switching honorifics when addressing her.
"I like the sound of that." Akane whispered softly on Rias' shoulder, while her husband cried anime waterfalls behind his glasses in gratitude that their 'new daughter-in-law was such a good and helpful girl.' in the background.
"Uuuu... Now I'll have less of a chance with Rias-onee-sama living with us..." Asia muttered dejectedly as she returned to cutting vegetables with obviously less vigor than earlier.
"Don't worry, Asia-chan." Raynare muttered reassuringly as she followed Asia's lead, albeit seemingly unaffected by this new development. "We haven't lost anything. And, even if that was the case, I wouldn't leave you behind."
Asia looked at the Fallen Angel with a teary smile of gratitude. "Thank you, Raynare-san!"
"Think nothing of it." Raynare smiled back at the younger girl.
While Rias returned to her own task and Akane got back to giving instructions over their lunch, poor Issei's brain was fried at the sudden development.
The brunet had even heard the small conversation between Asia and Raynare -as had Rias, but she was too happy to react to their words-, but he had been at the process of rebooting his mind, so it was like he didn't hear it in the first place.
Due to the way he was risen, Issei expected his parents to show some form of gratitude towards Rias, but he never expected them to invite her to live in their home.
Without the power of hypnosis to boot.
It was almost like his parents were manipulated to invite Rias to live in their home, but he refused to believe such a thing, even if he thought that the redhead was most certainly capable of something of this magnitude due to her selfishness.
When his mind rebooted, he immediately schooled his expression to be calm and collected, even as he was still surprised and was screaming his lungs out in frustration on the inside, unavoidably waking up his tenants.
Speaking of whom, both took a look at his recent memories and, while they wanted to laugh uproariously at their wielder's reaction to the news of Rias being allowed to move in with the Hyoudou family, they were forced to look at the big picture.
In short, Issei couldn't make his moves -like visiting Azazel- without the redhead asking questions that the brunet couldn't give an answer to; something that could form a rift in their relationship as a Devil with a contracted magician.
Something that would be counterproductive in the situation with Kokabiel.
Alas, Issei had to keep quiet about his thoughts on the matter, since he didn't want to raise suspition on Rias or, worse, Sona, should the latter learn about the hypothetically negative scenario.
The Sekiryuutei was quiet during lunch as well, after which he was about to excuse himself to take a much needed nap as he put his plates in the sink.
However, as the others were just about finishing up, Rias gained the attention of the room as she called out to him. "Hey, Ise?"
"Yeah?" he called back as he turned to face her with a raised eyebrow in curiousity.
"Do you mind if next Friday we have the club's meeting in this house?" the redhead asked politely, sparing a glance to her contracted magician's parents as well for clearance.
Issei, his parents, Asia and Raynare blinked in confusion at her odd request.
"Why?" the young brunet asked with a tilt of his head to his right.
"Well, all the clubrooms are scheduled to be polished clean next Friday and the Presidents of each club are to find a new place for our activities, should we feel the need to have a meeting that day. So, since I will live here, I thought that it's only natural to have our meeting in this house." Rias explained conversationally.
Issei's right eyebrow gave an unnoticeable twitch at the 'since I will live here' part, but otherwise kept a cool facade as he thought about it for a few moments.
It's not like one day of everyone here will bring the end of the world, considering that Akeno-san shows no negative reactions when around Ray-chan, so it should be good.
A slight tingle on his spine told him that he had somehow jinxed himself from his thoughts alone, but chose to ignore it.
"As long as everyone else in this house is alright with something like that, I don't mind." he responded airily, leaving his previous thoughts unsaid.
Along with the fact that he expected her to act 'princess-y' and that he thought that she had already arranged for the meeting to take place at his house, but just asked out of politeness.
Gorou didn't miss a bit to put in his two cents with a cheerful tone, knowing that his wife would agree with him. "It's as you said, Rias-chan. Since you'll live here," everyone missed Issei's eyebrow having another twitch at this. "you can have your meeting! Plus, Akane-chan and myself are more than curious to meet your fellow clubmembers that are friends to you, Asia-chan and our Ise!"
Akane nodded excitedly in agreement, but didn't say anything.
"It'll be like a sleepover~!" Asia gushed excitedly. "I never had one of those, so this will be a great opportunity!"
"Oh~! Nice idea, Asia-chan!" Akane agreed with the blonde ex-nun, with Gorou sharing his wife's sentiment with an excited nod of his head.
"I don't mind either." Raynare said simply with a careless shrug of her shoulders as she looked at the redhead.
"Well, there you have it." Issei sighed tiredly as he started making his way out of the kitchen. "I'm gonna take a nap for the next couple of hours, so excuse me." he announced politely.
While everyone was surprised at his abrupt exit, nobody could question his words because of his slightly slumped shoulders.
Also, noone had ever seen him get tired in the first place, but chose not to point out something like that in case he got agitated. So, they kept their worry for his being in their minds.
"So, will you help me move in after your nap, or tomorrow morning, Ise?" Rias asked cheekily, hoping to lighten him up.
"After my nap. Tomorrow is our day off and I want to kick back and relax as much as possible." Issei replied casually without turning to look at her as he completely exited the kitchen and went towards the stairs.
He didn't see the concerned frowns for his well being and odd behaviour that everyone on the table wore as they looked at his direction.
He only cared about getting his well deserved rest.
And, in the back of his mind, he wondered why he felt a feeling of foreboding for the club's meeting next Friday.
First of all, the original count is 3.039 words.
Now, the important parts.
This story is NOT going into HIATUS. It's PERMANENTLY DISCONTINUED AND WILL GO UNDER RE-WRITE FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.
The reason behind my decision is quite simple. After reading this story myself, I've noticed several things that don't make sence or should be vastly different from the way they are. Things that some of the readers have pointed out in their reviews.
Something that nobody noticed, or did but never pointed out... was how or why Great Red gave Issei specifically these overwhelming powers in the first place. That's a major plot hole, something that I generally dislike, yet I did it myself for my own convenience.
Then came my first fuck up with the first contract between Issei and Rias, which was somewhat corrected in chapter 51...
...which brings me to another issue. I know I warned you all that my story would be slow, but even I admit that this story's pace is ridiculous. And that's the bare minimum I can say about it.
There several more issues that need my attention; Issei's way of dealing with beings weaker than him and the situation with Asia, just to name a few...
I also know that there are a lot of people that genuinely like the story. 814 favs and 881 follows as I'm writting the A/N is more than enough proof for my claim. Especially considering that it's not even a year since this story started. Specifically, 18 days -Greek time-line- later would be exactly one year of this story.
Anyway, I'm really sorry about this, but it's my final decision. Also, unfortunately, my personal life and working hours won't leave me much time to write, so it might take quite a while to update the rewritten version of this story. Speaking of, I promise to not delete this out of respect to all of you that supported both me and the story up until this point.
And, so, there's only one thing left to say.
From the very depths of my heart, THANK YOU. Thank you for your support, your opinions, your inputs, flames, criticism and suggestions, and in some cases PMs. I trully enjoyed all of that throughout the -almost- year since this story started.
I promise that the re-write will be an even better read for all of you, because I believe in myself to be able to do so, despite my mediocre skills in writting.
Also, before you ask, I'll give an announcement through an update here when I upload the pilot of its re-written version.
Until then, stay safe, healthy and try your best to have fun with yourselves and loved ones!