Disclaimer: I don't own Highschool DxD.

Follow Your Heart and Nothing Else

Joshua had been upgrading, re-setting and generally going over the defenses of Kuoh for a while already. After all, part of his life was there now with Jeanne and Asia going to school there and him having his cafe in the town. So, much like he did with his own home and the Hunter's House, he kept the defenses as good as he could make them. A bigger place stretched things a lot more though, so it was expected for Kuoh's defenses to be a little weaker, at the least.

Which is why he tried to pay special attention to them.

That's how, one day, he'd noticed something odd. Not really something that was detected by his wards, but it was still weird. Like looking at a wall that had a little paper figure of the same color stuck to it from a distance, he supposed now that he had more information. It was like there was something there but also not. So, it piqued his curiosity a little bit.

He'd almost thought it was nothing, or if it was something, then it might just be irrelevant. Joshua had still gone for it though, because if nothing else, it made for a fun challenge. Thus, he'd added more and more spells in place to try and discern what that might be.

And finally, he had his answer.

He wasn't sure how to deal with his situation now though.

"So, when are the scary devils coming for me nya~?" Kuroka asked from across the table, where he'd shackled her, the same place where Kalawarna had been contained before. The little "nya" was faked, he knew, from his first interaction with her as much as what he was picking up now that she was fully under his senses and spells. She was trying to act calm, but she was worried, afraid.

Not as much as he thought she would or should be, but still.

"I haven't called yet," he answered with a shrug, trying to decide what to do. Calling Serafall and Sirzechs was an option. He owed Kuroka nothing, and while he enjoyed spending time and training with Koneko and… almost could consider her a friend, maybe, possibly… The point was that just because he got along with her sister didn't mean he had to cut Kuroka any slack.

She was part of Khaos Brigade, after all.

That was the huge problem for Joshua, in the end. He could care less for her crimes in devil society. If he remembered the details of her background and Koneko's somewhat right, she'd been more or less justified. He'd have done the same had Jeanne been in danger as he recalled Kuroka's sister being.

Joining Khaos Brigade was another thing entirely, however. No matter how much the source material tried to paint Vali's team in a semi-good light or something of the sort, Joshua wasn't seeing it. You don't join madmen and monsters like fucking Khaos Brigade being good. He'd seen enough of their shit to know that.

There was no excuse to do something like that unless you were an absolute moron or you had no other choice.

Now, was any of those the case with Kuroka though?

"Nya~ You are scary~," she said, and he flexed his spells to shut her up, because that speech thing was annoying him to no end. Maybe it was supposed to be cute, or make him lower his guard, or something. Hell, maybe it was supposed to actually annoy him. In that case, it was working.

"I'd be very careful," he told her calmly, giving her a bored look. "Make a single mistake, and I will be calling the devils. I have some contacts that I can call on."

"The wee little Satan sisters it is then nya~?"

"I was thinking more Serafall Leviathan and Sirzechs Lucifer themselves," he answered, and she stiffened ever so slightly. "Surprised? Did you think you'd have somewhat of a chance if you had to deal with Rias because of your sister?"

She flinched at that, if it was because he was right or just because he knew about Koneko, Joshua wasn't sure, but it didn't really matter. Now she knew that she was screwed, because he was sure that she could tell he was 100% truthful there. He was closer to the Satans – at least in Serafall's case – than he was Rias and Sona, so there was no point in not going to her with this mess. He was sure she wouldn't be too mad at him…

Maybe he could have some snacks ready to bribe her with though, just in case.

"Now that we are on the same page," he continued then, leaning back against his seat as he considered what to do. He had some idea, but Kuroka's situation was… complicated, at best. "Why did you join Khaos Brigade? And I don't think I have to tell you to be truthful, do I?"

She didn't answer immediately. To his slight surprise, she didn't even look like she was thinking over her answer. Instead, she seemed to have her attention taken by something else, blinking and tilting her head to one side. She remained like that for a long moment, to the point when Joshua started considering threatening her again.

"... Huh…" she mumbled, almost inaudible for him. "I see…" she continued, confusing the hell out of Joshua. "I didn't have many options, as one of the most wanted criminals of the Underworld," she answered finally, and he found himself surprised by how direct that answer was. "Eventually, Khaos Brigade found me and… Well, they offered shelter in exchange for some work. So, I took their offer."

She wasn't lying, as far as he could tell. Joshua then looked to the side, towards Cheshire, and his familiar gave him a nod. It was then that he noticed that Kuroka had looked in Cheshire's direction before. Nothing had happened, however, everything felt fine through the bond. His familiar was still regarding their new "guest" with suspicion and all.

"What, exactly, did you do for them?" he asked then, turning back towards Kuroka.

"Do you want a list in chronological or alphabetical order?" she asked back, raising an eyebrow. Her expression was calm, none of that fake playfulness she'd displayed before. There was no fear either. She seemed calm, collected… Weird. Or, at least, out of character from what he knew of her.

"Chronological will work," he answered. Maybe he could get something out of this besides just one less enemy, albeit a dangerous one. Any people that Khaos Brigade could not have in their numbers was a win in Joshua's books, but one as strong as Kuroka? He'd really lucked out.

Now, if this was going where he thought it was going…

And then Kuroka started talking and Joshua made a notebook appear in front of him and started taking notes.

[}-o-{]

[Serafall Leviathan]

"Are you sure? Absolutely sure?" she asked, narrowing her eyes at Joshua. For once, she didn't dare be playful about things, because this was serious. Not only in regards to the mess this could cause in the Underworld, but also on several other fronts.

She'd expected a number of things when Joshua called her that day. She hadn't dared hope much, but maybe he'd called for a friendly meeting. They'd had some of those. Maybe he'd called for a small favor that would be a nice excuse to spend time with him. Maybe he'd called for a not so small favor too, which she wouldn't have had much problem at least listening to.

A frightened part of her considered that maybe he'd called with another emergency like what had happened with the Fallen.

Instead, Joshua had called her to tell her that he'd caught one of the most wanted criminals of her people. Not only that, but Kuroka was also one of the most troublesome ones too, since Serafall was well aware that there was something fishy going on there. All the Satans were, but they couldn't very well search too deeply or they risked angering the Pillar Houses.

And now, Joshua was forcing their hand on the matter. Not only because he'd caught Kuroka, but also because he was vouching for the woman. He'd made Serafall hear the woman's story, told her that the nekoshou was cooperating and had given him a lot of information about Khaos Brigade…

Which would make Serafall have to open a whole can of worms that she'd have rather not.

On a different note entirely, although no less important if anyone asked her, she also wasn't happy with the way Kuroka was looking at Joshua.

At all.

"You are not just doing this because she's making eyes at you, right?" Serafall asked, eyes still narrowed. She knew that Joshua was taking her words as a joke, but they were anything but. Sometimes her playful act/self worked against her, unfortunately.

"Believe me, Serafall, she has as much of a chance with me as I have with Gabriel right now," Joshua commented with a deadpan expression.

Serafall, meanwhile, could only think that the statement was very obviously not as reassuring as the man thought it was. Especially after some of the comments she'd heard the angel make during meetings in regards to Khaos Brigade. Seriously, as if Yasaka wasn't enough. At least she knew that little Rias and Kuisha had next to no chance of getting anywhere.

Small mercies and all that.

Serafall sighed.

"If it makes you feel better," he said, smiling wryly. "I can try and make things easier for you. I don't know how, but I'm sure you can think of something."

Well, there was that, she supposed. She could think of several things he could do to help her smooth things over. For one, there was his Phoenix project. Once that was completed, Serafall was sure they could get the Phenex House to bend over backwards in order not to lose almost the entirety of their worth in the supernatural world as a whole. That was some major power to hold, and that was saying something coming from her.

Then there was the pull he was starting to get around other circles. Heaven, the Church, House of Water, the Egyptian Pantheon, half the Youkai Faction… All of them were big names and Serafall could very easily use that kind of power. Hell, she wouldn't even need most of that to make Kuroka's case not that much of a problem to deal with.

And then there were some of the other strings Joshua was unknowing starting to extend around. If she hadn't known better, Serafall would have thought he was really good at politics. But she did, which meant that she also knew Joshua was quickly becoming a political powerhouse with the power of being nice.

It was both impressive and annoying, if Serafall was honest.

"And you are sure that the information is good?"

"No?" Joshua answered, raising an eyebrow. "I told you that I wanted everyone to look it over and see if it was before doing anything with her," he added then, blinking. "Weren't you listening?"

She might have been a little distracted by the look Kuroka was sending him, but she was pretty sure she'd been paying attention. Then again, the nekoshou had been very intense a moment after they'd gotten talking about the situation and… Ah, Kuroka had realized how important Joshua really was, huh? Right, she'd forgotten how annoying Senjutsu truly was when it was used by a master. Yasaka was a lot less annoying than she could be, and she was more or less the only person that could truly be on that level.

Until Kuroka, that is.

Serafall sighed. How many times did that make?

"Guess we can bring it up with the Fallen, Heaven and the Youkai," she decided then, deflating a little. Her eye twitched at the way Kuroka's tails excitedly started waving around as she looked between Joshua and her. She really wasn't liking this woman.

Why couldn't she have been an actual, heinous criminal?

"I'll keep an eye on this one in the meantime. Not like she can do much under my strongest spells," Joshua reassured her, which didn't really mean much. Serafall was sure that the woman wasn't really thinking about escaping or killing anyone at the moment. If anything, she was more worried about her because she thought she wanted to be there.

"Nya~ Will you punish me if I'm a bad gir-?" the nekoshou started before the magic around the place twisted and she was sent face first into the ground. Serafall tried not to let on how much that pleased her.

"Yes. Yes, I will," Joshua replied with an unamused expression. Serafall knew she liked him for a reason. He was smart enough not to get involved with a hussy like th- "As if I'd fall for that act."

Ah, he was just being oblivious as usual.

Well, at least that worked in Serafall's favor, for once.

[}-o-{]

[Agnes Waterhouse]

"Huh, well… I can say this is a surprise," Davis said, looking over the files she had passed him that day after his class was over and she called him to her office. She watched him intently, trying to discern if following Báthory's idea had been a good decision or not. She'd kind of very reluctantly agreed that the other woman might be right, but doing anything together with her felt like a mistake.

"So, what do you think?" she asked in the end, when she was reasonably sure that he wasn't annoyed by their actions.

"You are really giving me all this?" Davis asked, evidently having reached the page with their loot of the Hexennacht base. Agnes was particularly happy with that part, actually. Their findings had been very good, even if she was sure that Báthory had stolen som- "What'd I even do with half of this stuff. Hell, most of it, really."

Agnes blinked.

"How about we do this? You take everything," he said and she all but choked on air itself. Was he for real or was this-? "If there's anything on wards, hexes or boons. I'll take it… Oh, and foci for those too, I guess. Anything else you can have, honestly."

"..." Agnes wanted to say something to that as she watched the man continue reading, flipping over the pages of treasures like they were inconsequential. Instead, all she could do was stare, unable to comprehend what was happening. She looked to the side to see an equally as baffled Báthory.

"Actually, you have anything on Astrology? Divination?" he asked and she narrowed her eyes. That didn't seem to be anywhere close to his usual delvings. "I found a potential magician that's interested in that, so I want to provide them with some material to get started."

A person scouted by Davis himself? Now, Agnes was no genius but surely that could only lead to someone remarkable, even if their talent were lacking. Being under the wing of a powerful magician was the dream of many young students. With Davis? An actually caring teacher? Many experienced magicians would give an arm to be in the shoes of whoever this person was.

"We can sort through our findings for what you would be interested in."

"Thank you," Davis said, as if she were doing him a favor by taking a great deal of their Hexennacht loot. Was the man for real or was it all an act? Agnes sometimes wondered. "Honestly, why'd they even need all that money and treasure for anyway?"

To pay for services they couldn't provide for themselves. Magicians from other associations – other strays in this particular case – mostly, but sometimes one needed a particularly specific power set from a pantheon or such. On top of that, money could always be used for something. And the mere fact that one had a lot of it could mean influence by itself.

Evidently, Joshua Davis cared very little, if at all, for money, however.

'Good to know, I guess,' Agnes thought, holding back a grimace. 'Even if it makes my job harder.'

"Well, this was definitely a good idea for repaying me, I can tell you that," the man said then, looking up from the files. She resolutely ignored the smug look Báthory was giving her from the side and instead focused on the man. "Anything I can do to make you keep going?" he asked then.

This time, both Agnes and Báthory had to hold back their reactions. As it was, a single base was very little in the face of all she'd gotten from other associations in order for them to attend Davis' classes, nevermind her own students in said lectures. Now that he was giving her the majority of the loot though?

This was more like her paying only the interest without actually getting rid of the debt.

"Nothing of the sort, Joshua," Agnes told him, forcing a calm smile on her face. "This was just the initial payment, we are nowhere near done just yet."

"That's great to hear," the man told her, grinning widely. "You can go ahead and just skip this whole meeting thing if you want. I'm sure you have more important things to do than report to me," he added then, looking back at the file before placing it back on her desk instead of taking it. "I appreciate the effort though."

"You won't be taking it to see that everything's there?"

"Nah, I trust you," he said, with that same easygoing expression of his, as if this were nothing. Or as if they were close friends or something. "If that's all?"

"It is, have a nice day."

"Have a nice day yourself, both of you," he said, giving a nod to both her and Báthory.

Then the two women watched him leave.

"The most frustrating part about this is that we can't actually try to scam him off of some things," Báthory groaned then, to which Agnes snorted. Indeed, her less than good comrade would have loved to have that chance.

Unfortunately for her, Davis might be a trusting person, but he was also decidedly not an idiot. If they tried taking anything, he'd have picked up on something immediately. Whether through his spells or his senses, which were both quite perceptive.

On top of that…

Both Agnes and Báthory stiffened as they felt a presence wash over them, as if a reminder to behave.

As if they needed Nephthys to tell them that crossing Davis was a bad idea.

[}-o-{]

[Yasaka]

"I miss when your hair was longer," Kunou commented and she had to hold back a giggle at the sight of her daughter and Joshua. Apparently, the young one had felt especially clingy that day, because she was sitting on the man's shoulders, idly playing with his hair. "Can't you-?"

"No," Joshua denied before Kunou could even finish the question, making the girl pout. "You know I cut it because it was annoying. I prefer short hair. Much easier to deal with."

"Hm, I guess," Kunou mumbled, clearly not convinced. "But if you let-"

"No," Joshua interrupted again, making the girl whine.

Yasaka simply watched, taking a sip from her drink as she looked at them. Occasionally, she'd look down at her paperwork, dealing with this or that issue. Things had started looking up, fortunately, once she got the ball rolling with Joshua's help. There was still much to do, but she tried to refrain from commenting on that.

Joshua would have continued on his efforts to help her and she couldn't have that. Not because the potential misunderstanding bothered her or anything, far from it, but there were other issues on that. For one, she wanted to deal with her problems by herself and it wasn't a huge pain to do so, especially after the initial part was more or less done with, as was the case now.

On top of that, Yasaka herself wasn't quite sure how to deal with the misunderstanding in terms of how it affected her. Because even if she knew it wasn't the case and it was just Joshua being nice, there was the little voice at the back of her mind telling her that 'maybe, just maybe, he was doing it on purpose' and it was… Distracting, and annoying, she had to admit.

Moreover, she also didn't want Joshua thinking too much on "the misunderstanding" else he put even more distance between them in his mind to make up for that. She couldn't have that. Yasaka was doing just fine with the slow, ever so slow progress she was making.

It was a deliberate thing, however, just like she and Serafall had agreed.

'Soon though,' she thought.

"Dad, can you-?" Kunou asked, making Yasaka's heart do a little flip at the call and how Joshua responded immediately, not even needing the full question. The man lifted her daughter's cup with a caring smile that the girl couldn't see but still mirrored.

It was scenes like that which made the wait more difficult than it needed to be.

Not that Yasaka was complaining.

"So, things are going well then?" Joshua asked her, looking up from what he was working on. She was fairly sure that it was the Phoenix project again. Some of those notes looked familiar, at least, from what she'd picked up during their shared times as they worked on their things in that room.

"They are," she told him. Not really lying, but not really telling him the whole truth. Yasaka knew, picking up on it through Senjutsu, that Joshua knew she was hiding something. He didn't press her though, and she appreciated that.

She didn't need a knight in shining armor, after all. She just needed someone to share her life with, someone to stand beside her. Or, in this case, someone to sit with and spend a quiet afternoon together as they dealt with their things.

"If you say so," Joshua replied with a shake of his head and a smile, confirming her suspicions, even if there was no need. "Just tell me if something important comes up, ok?" he asked her and she smiled her best smile at him, because she appreciated the thought behind it.

"I will. I'm not quite that stubborn, you know?"

"I mean, you are Kunou's mother," he pointed out.

"And you are her father," she shot back, quite glad that she could hide how much she enjoyed saying that. It'd be quite childish, since she did so about as much as Kunou herself enjoyed saying that kind of thing herself.

"I guess I walked into that one," Joshua commented with a chuckle. 'If only he could be her actual father,' Yasaka thought with no small amount of bitterness, but that didn't matter. Every day, it became less important, because Joshua had never seemed to care about that, taking to his new role swiftly and without a problem. Kunou herself seemed to have jumped on the idea too.

Yasaka, in the meantime, had taken longer to grow used to him basically being Kunuo's adopted father, which she supposed was understandable. Soon though, she would stop caring about the "adopted" part of the equation and that moment couldn't come soon enough, as far as she was concerned. Although, she wouldn't mind changing it for a "step", but that was for further into the future, hopefully.

As it was, she just had to wait a little longer. Then, things could finally move, at the very least, the smallest bit faster. For one, because Joshua was a complex person, socially speaking. He dealt with family, allies and work relationships much easier than he did friends. Romance seemed to be on a whole other league of its own, so Yasaka knew that needed to be tackled carefully.

On top of that, the man had a lot on his plate at the moment, so she didn't want to hinder him. Once he freed himself a little though, things would be different. And Yasaka could be patient, there was no risk on that front, after all. Not even with that new nekoshou that he'd mentioned before.

Truly, Serafall worried too much.

[} Chapter End {]

Hey guys! How's it going?

I'm… actually mostly fine with this chapter. Sure, I have some doubts all over the place, but maybe I'm growing more confident. That would be nice.

Regardless, I hope you enjoyed the chapter.

As always, if you can't wait until next week for next chapter, there's up to three new chapters in my Pa tre on:

P a treon . com (slash) AdrianKing

Discord Link: discord .gg/UTDransjJZ

Random Question: Do you live in a big city? A smaller town? Most of the time I live in a big city, but my parents do so in a big-ish town/small city, and I do spend a good deal of time back there with time on breaks and such.

See you.