NPGamer11 here, with a kinda, sorta new DxD story! Let me explain... The OG Bartender Dragon was something I started, and then let my friend PigeonReviewer take over the writing process with me just overlooking it to see if it's going the way I wanted the story to go.
But now he is living his life, away from writing, and I am wishing him all well. I tried to take up the story again, but I just could not find it in me. So I decided a re-write was in order. And this is what you're reading now. I hope you will all enjoy the story, and if you wish to read the original, it will stay on this website, not deleted as per my and Pigeon's wish. Also.
I OWN NOTHING! I'M BUT A HOBO THAT SNEAKS INTO THE LIBRARY AND WAISTS TIME WRITING THIS INSTEAD OF WATCHING PORN!
"Hello there." - regular talking
"I am with you, partner." - sacred gears talking
"I can win I feel great!" - inner thoughts
This chapter was beta read by Marethyu. Thank you for your awesome work!
6 YEARS AGO, U.S, West Coast
"Partner, you must stop and rest. You burnt through 200 years worth of life force! Inari showed you how to renew it, do it now."
"I will, but not now. I need a passport, cash, and a vehicle. Also, we're meeting someone right now."
"Who is it?"
"...A friend of Inari's. He's gonna help us travel more incognito." A dark shape approached, carrying a slip of paper, bearing a seal.
"How will we be more hidden?" The seal was slapped upon Issei's left forearm.
"Good night partner."
"Issei! Wai-" The green glow emanating from the teen's arm slowly dimed until it completely extinguished. Somewhere, far from there, a young woman woke, feeling like something so dear to her just went missing.
Tokyo city airport was as busy as always. Being one of the hotspots for tourism and business, planes were landing and taking off with maximum efficiency, often attributed to the Japanese people. In that efficient smooth system, one Issei Hyoudou found solace, after leaving his gate. After six years of traversing the world, he was finally home.
He spent a good two months in Hawaii with his mom and dad, who moved there at his insistent urging. Hawaii was the supernatural equivalent of Switzerland, neutral, and out of conflict. They rarely even let other supernaturals on the islands, and if they did, those individuals were heavily monitored. Getting a house there was a pain, but luckily they did not question him once he revealed it was not for him, and now with his parents there, he also had the right to visit them. As long as they did not do anything to get themselves deported they were safe., He doubted it would happen anyway.
Ah, but now that he was here, he needed to check something. He took a cab to a nearby storage Wearhouse, finding the container number 358. Fishing out a key and unlocking it, he smiled at the sight. There she stood, as he left her when he ran away from this country. He was talking of course about his motorcycle.
It was a gift from his teacher after the first successful mission. But as much as it was disrespectful to his mentor and best friend, the helmet residing in the trunk was something that held much more emotional attachment for the young man. On it a dragon was seen chasing a golden fox, bathed in blue wispy flames. That was a gift from a person nearest and dearest to his heart.
A slamming door roused him out of his musings. He took the bike outside, after canceling the renting contract, and straddling the bike proper. Some might expect engine problems after sitting still for six years (he could work some magic on it if that was the case), but it responded fast and loud, most eager to take it's owner once again wherever they wish to go.
Donning the helmet, Issei relished the wind trying to hold him back as he sped towards the nearest highway. It was time to go home. Kuoh town, here we go!
Issei took his leisurely time getting there, making it a day trip to see some of Japan and spent the night in a delightful B&B run by a charming old couple, who all but ordered him to ditch the motorcycle, get a haircut and find a nice lady. All and all it was a good time.
He finally arrived at the city limits, and making a stop at the place he could oversee the town, he took a stop and removed his helmet. And then it hit him. Devil stench. Old, luckily. It wouldn't do to have to kill an overseer and send an entire faction on a wild chase after him. A storm god was quite enough, thank you very much. Still, he should be cautious. It seems he was gonna have to visit the old monkey sooner than he thought. Now… Where was he gonna find high-quality sake on a Monday morning?
Sun Wukong was known for many things, one of them being a great seal master, which was a service Issei desperately needed. The last seal master he visited in Sydney told him straight that the seals holding his Sacred gear dormant were not gonna last more than a damn week.
He would normally be afraid to visit a man with so many ties to the faction that cast him out, but Yu-Long managed to convince him on Issei's behalf to keep his mouth shut. A favor to a fellow dragon he called it, but Issei knew that owning a favor to a Dragon King would cost him eventually.
"So, you're brat I'm supposed to keep quiet about. Wonder why? Did you murder someone or took a peek at the Kyuubi." Issei had to hide a wince.
"I can not thank you enough for doing this for me, great Sun Wukong."
"What do you need, brat. I ain't got all day"
Issei rolled up the sleeves on his left forearm, showing a seal that was pulsing and riddled with cracks, emanating a soft green glow.
"So that's why Yu-Long took your side. You're the brat that rebelled the Trio and caused the Red Trial to happen. Japan is still paying for your damn mistakes. All the territory taken, given back, and heavy reparations to the victims. So you want to be normal, and I should seal this up for you?"
Issei nodded, not trusting his voice. He knew well what he caused. And it would have all been worth it if not for-
Blond hair stained with blood... The smell of ashes and metal in the air... The feeling of armor bending beneath his fist…
"You there brat?" Quickly shaking his head, Issei looked towards his arm to see a masterfully applied seal, in the form of a monkey, riding on a cloud and gazing upon the setting sun, surrounded by black chains. Whisper in his head he has been ignoring since yesterday completely silent.
Still not trusting his voice, he bowed to the Monkey King, and exited the room, seeing the receptionist struggle with the large clay jar of sake he brought as a gift, complete with an ornamented cup. He gave her a small shaky smile as he left, and once outside he took a deep breath of relief. He could finally do what he set out to do. Open a bar!
It's not easy opening a bar. You need a location and buy it through a mortgage. Only an idiot pays it all in one go, that arouses suspicion, and gets the government on your ass, wondering where all that money came from. Then you need a license for selling alcohol, plus make the place pass the healt&safty regulations. Then you need a supplier, furniture, and various other minuscule details.
Issei knew all that well. He did not spend 6 years just sightseeing around the world. He made connections, he tasted various alcoholic beverages, and fought hard to get them shipped to Japan for a fair price. But those hurdles were crossed, and now, a month into business, he was proud of himself. It wasn't crowded, he could still manage by himself, but he probably should look into getting some help. When he would be able to afford it.
The door opened while his back was turned, a click-clacking of high heels and a quiet scrape of one of the bar chairs. He did a quick 180 and greeted the newcomer with a polite smile.
"Welcome to Happy Dragon. How may I serve you?"
The woman leaned forward the slightest bit and gave him a smile while giving a look that almost seemed like she was trying to pierce him with her violet eyes
"A dirty martini to start with, handsome."
Issei kept his face in check, never dropping his smile, as he turned around. He then allowed the drop of sweat to form on his forehead.
"How the fuck did a devil wander into this place? Is it still an active territory? Is she the overseer, but took a long vacation?"
Honestly, Issei had to hand it to the woman. If he was a regular human, or even a magic sensing one, he would have needed a lot longer to peg her as a devil. But what betrayed her were three things. First, her brown hair was much too immaculate, and smelled of a scent unknown to Issei, and trust him, he smelled a lot of nice hair. Second, her skin gave off an ever so slight glow, that most humans could not see. He was once again, not most humans. One could argue he was not a human at all. And last, but certainly not least, when she leaned forward, her breasts bounced like there were ferrets hiding in her bra.
Her drink mixed, he placed it in front of her, and she took a small sip. Approving of the taste, she took out the olive and placed it seductively inside her pretty mouth, making a show of sucking her fingers clean. Issei knew what he had to do.
"So, what's a lady like you doing in a place like this?" It was incredibly cheesy, and he barely held off from cringing himself. But the line did its purpose. It got her laughing.
"My, who knew there were still people out there who use such corny lines."
"As long as it makes pretty ladies laugh, it serves its purpose." He shot her what he hoped was a daring grin. It seemed to work, but then a spark of mischief ignited in her eyes.
"I'm just pretty then?" Issei knew a trap when he saw one.
"I would try to describe what you are, Ms, but I'm just a bartender. I don't know the big words of compliments your husband must shower you with." Both pairs of eyes fell on the shiny band wrapped firmly around her ring finger.
"I suppose that is true. Tell me about yourself then, oh humble bartender. I frequent this town quite often, and yet I never saw you here before."
"You remember all the people in town then?"
"Just the cute ones." Issei pretended to be insulted.
"And here I hoped I looked dashingly handsome. You wound me, Ms..." He felt they talked enough that asking for the last name wouldn't come off as rude.
" Gremory, and it was not my intention of doing so, Mr…"
"Well then, Mr. Hyoudou, tell me a bit about yourself. Did you just move in?"
"Sorta. That I just moved back would be a more apt description. I grew up in this town, you see..."
Issei and Ms. Gremory ended up chatting all through the last shift. Issei of course did not neglect any other patrons, but he knew how female devils operated in a mundane setting. Seek out the strongest in the room and appear to befriend him, so the rest of the scrubs leave you alone. She-Devil tactics 101. He kept in shape, was pretty built, and was of what could be considered intimidating height, but he'd seen some real giants. She naturally chose him as her de facto protector.
Of course, some just did not get the message, so he used his stare on them, which mostly dissuaded people from annoying the brunette. Those rare few who needed more obvious signals were cut off for the night and escorted out.
As the shift grew to a close, so did their conversation, which after a brief (and fake) story about his childhood revolved around mundane nothingness, like how far the local high school kendo team will get in the regionals, and how the price of gas was on the rise. After paying for the drinks and a seductive walk outside, Issei was alone. If he cared to extend his senses, he could feel her opening a teleportation circle in the alley right next to the bar.
When Venelana returned home to the Gremory estate, she found her husband in one of the sitting rooms, dressed in only pants, and with a sheen of sweat covering him.
"Rough night, dear?" She asked him, mischief shining from her eyes.
"Not as bad as yours. I take it the meetings were a drag?"
"No, the meeting went well. I just decided to check on a new business that opened."
"New business? That's good. More business means more money, more jobs, more people. More people means a much wider pool for Rias to find members of her peerage. What is the business then?"
"Some strapping young man decided to open a bar. I decided to go for a drink, and he seems to know his stuff."
"A bar with a strapping bartender, you say? Maybe Rias is not ready to manage a territory yet…"
Venelana smacked her husband, even though she knew he was joking. Rias wouldn't take over for another 4 years. Who knows what may happen during that time.
"So, anything strange about the bartender?"
"He was leaking minuscule amounts of Ki. Probably a distant Youkai ancestry, he did not seem to be aware of it."
Despite it being over half a decade ago, the murder of Naberius still made people scowl. The same went for any mention of Nekomata, or Ki.
"I doubt he'll be any trouble, he seems pretty content with just running a bar. Plus, he is older than Rias. Most young devils tend to create peerage from people their age."
"You're right. I worry too much."
"Your wife is managing your harem for you, and there hasn't been any political discourse in 6 years. What do you have to worry about?"
"Well, it's been 10 years since Millicas was born, I worry whether I'll get another grandson before I hit my 666."
"Oh, you. Let's go. I know you still have enough for me, and all the drinks got me hot and bothered."
Issei bowed before the Monkey King, who looked mighty displeased to see him.
"Why are you here brat?"
"The seal… It's cracked."
"I don't imagine the Welsh Dragon enjoys his imprisonment."
"Can you re-apply the seal?"
"I can." Sun Wukong gave him a flat stare.
"I will. If you tell me what happened at Kumamoto."
"Why do you think that what you heard is not the truth?"
"Because I was the one who taught Inari the use of Ki and Chakra. I know when one of my students is lying to me."
"So you want peace of mind?"
"I want to know if the respect that I have for my pupil is deserved. He would not lie without a good reason. Not to me." Issie couldn't see the eyes of the old man in front of him. But he could hear the yearn in his voice.
"You loved him." It was not a question.
"Like a son."
One hour later Issei walked out of the palace, with a smile that gave off the feeling of relief. Telling the truth to someone who could understand felt great. With him, he also carried a note that allowed him to meet with Victorious Fighting Budda whenever he wished.
Happy Dragon just celebrated it's 1 year anniversary. Issei did some math, and although the first year ended at a loss, it was much smaller than he predicted. He might actually profit this year! With the rising popularity, and his ingenious idea of running a cafe during holidays, this just might work!
Venelana came several times during the last few months, and while a delight to converse to, Issei was worried that devils may return to the town. So he took precautions. He built himself a home outside the city, and used his various abilities to hide, or rather, make it seem like it was not there. Only a talented or a very sensitive Ki practitioner could find it. He also stocked on some special cleaning supplies that eliminated most of the supernatural scents. He made sure to douse the bar in them any time Venelana left. But maybe he did a little too good of a job eliminating the presence of devils in his establishment.
"Ahh! That was a nice drink. Yo, barboy! Another!"
Because right now he was serving sake to a fallen angel. And if his scent was right, a damn powerful one.
The man he was serving had deep purple eyes, and dark hair with golden bangs mixed in. And he was gulping down his strongest sake like it was nothing. The official one, anyway. He took to calling him 'barboy' the whole evening now, and Issei decided to ignore him. He was not a child anymore, god damn it!
"Tsk, the service here…"
More ignoring. He had mugs to clean, he can't hear who this person is calling.
"Ahh, no one allows me any fun anymore. Another round, BARTENDER."
He turned, the bottle already in hand and poured a portion in the elegant sake cup.
"No problem mister."
"I swear, the youngsters these days. Every generation has more cheek than the last one." He pretended to cry, while at the same time snatch some peanuts from the bowl in front of him.
"Nothing. Here, have more sake." He poured more in the cup, and received a grateful nod.
"So, what brings you to town, mister?"
"Bah, just checking around. My business recently came into some property in this town, and I'm deciding what to do with it." He took a long sip, and licked his lips.
"You have some good stuff here. Not the best, but I'm pleasantly surprised." Issei shouldn't have said anything. But. Damn it, his dragon pride reared its ugly head.
He urged the fallen closer, and whispered like he was revealing a big secret.
"I may or may not have something better, but only for those who can afford it."
Azazel flashed him a knowing smile, and a second later a black credit card. Issei reached into a special compartment underneath the bar, and pulled out a clay jar.
"Straight from Kyoto. A real pain to get." And he wasn't kidding. He used a false identity, to buy it from another false identity, who got it from an intermediary. He was not risking anyone from there finding out he returned.
He poured the fallen a cup, and Azazel took his time tasting it. And he was amazed.
"Kiddo, I have a feeling this is the start of a wonderful friendship."
Issei smiled on the outside. Inside he was screaming.
There it is. The start of True Bartender Dragon. I hope it can reach and surpass the original, and I hope you all lovely readers of the DxD fandom enjoyed it as well. If you want to see my uploading schedule, you can check my profile. This story will also be crossposted on Ao3. Alright, I think that's about it. READ. REVIEW. Let me know what YOU think, and we'll read each other next time. NPGamer out.