Disclaimer: I don't own Highschool DxD.

You Raise Me Up-

"Hm, people don't like me much, it seems," Joshua commented, drawing a sigh from both Griselda and Gabriel. Xenovia and Irina showed their own unease by shifting a little as they walked, as if they wanted to turn away from him but couldn't quite do so without stopping escorting him to the ward room he'd use.

"Things continue to escalate," the Seraph answered after a moment and Joshua felt the shift in their surroundings. There was a spell in place, but it wasn't only that. There was a touch of divinity there. 'Is that how I never noticed her using spells?' Joshua mused. As it was, he imagined he had his Egyptian friends to thank for now being aware of it.

The new capabilities extended to more than sensing stuff in a deeper way, of course, but he hadn't quite delved into that. It felt… overwhelming, every time he so much as "looked" in the directions of those powers. Set's previous blessing had been nothing like that.

Joshua had dipped his metaphorical toes into the new blessing and what it might allow him to do, but it always felt like too much. It was probably the divinity, he supposed. He was a human, even with a System. A human that had been given too much power at once.

As it was, he only had access to two thirds of the new blessing. First of all, the one that seemed to increase his potential in skills, as far as the System was concerned, since all the max levels had been raised. Besides that, he now also seemed to have an easier time developing skills too, even if it wasn't anything drastic, it was still noticeable and that was something he could appreciate.

'I guess I'll have to really go for it one of these days,' Joshua thought, holding back a sigh. 'The game might give me a resistance or something like that. I can't just ignore these. It's too much power that I could use,' he mused.

That was a problem for future Joshua. At that very moment, he had a job to do warding and booning the Church base. They still refused to accept hexes, but that was expected, really. As it was, he could worry about his new powers and other things at some other time.

For the moment, Joshua could focus on other things for a bit. The situation with Rias and the Phenex was more or less in control. Things with Sairaorg's mother wouldn't change for the foreseeable future, for better or worse. Hexennacht was probably still licking their wounds. Khaos Brigade was strangely silent, which was concerning, but that was a problem for other people, since he wasn't directly involved with that for the moment.

Maybe it was selfish of him, but Joshua was content to take some time for himself and not worry about things.

Cheshire walking by his leg and pressing against it brought him back to the present once more.

"Everyone's on edge. If they were quietly discontent with us asking an outsider for help, they are more overt about it now," the angel continued talking then, looking sadly towards the exorcists that they passed at times. Joshua imagined she'd cast an illusion over them, not only to hide what she was saying but also to hide that she was watching them too.

"Nothing I can do, I'm guessing?" he asked. He felt the amusement of his familiars then after that. He even felt some from the gods through the Charm, but there were also a few suspicious ones and even offended ones. He almost wanted to roll his eyes.

It seemed that everything he did could rub someone the wrong way. He didn't care about pleasing all of them, but it was annoying anyway. Joshua could see how that made sense though. Gods had plenty of conflicting domains and such. Doing something that pleased one could very easily anger another.

It wasn't even that he was offering because he liked the Church very much. Sure, they had made a lot of progress from the mess that their relationship had been at the start, but still. He was just doing what had been asked of him. There were some nice people in there, like the ones escorting him, but the rest? Meh.

However, if the Church stopped fighting with itself, then that was more resources that could be used to fight Khaos Brigade and Joshua was all for that. So, if he could help solve the Civil War a little quicker, then he'd try his best. He didn't even want something that would have a drastic effect on things, but anything that would speed things up would be nice.

"Besides what you are already doing?" Gabriel asked, seeming somewhat amused. That was good, at least. Better than the depressed look, that was for sure. "We couldn't possibly ask you for more, Mr. Davis."

"Haven't I told you to call me Joshua already?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. For some reason, the angel seemed to find that response even more amusing, if the widening of her smile was anything to go by. "Also, I'm the one asking for more to do, not the other way around," he pointed out.

To that, the woman giggled behind her hand, which had Irina stumbling on her feet. One would think she never saw an angel giggling, honestly. Although, that might have been exactly what was going on. Joshua supposed his perspective might be a little skewed in that aspect. He wasn't very sure what was normal or not and his meetings with certain supernatural figures were… not quite the norm either, he was sure.

"Even then, I can't just ask more of you, Joshua," Gabriel told him. "There's no need to involve someone that's completely disconnected from this conflict."

"I could point out the several ways I'm involved, like setting up these defenses or taking care of Asia," he commented, drawing a wry smile from the angel. "I could also bring up a bunch of selfish reasons as to why I want to help, if that'd make you feel better."

"It wouldn't, but I appreciate the thought."

"I'm surrounded by stubborn people," Joshua said then, sighing. "I guess I'll have to look for a way to help without asking or being asked."

"Joshua-"

"After all, I'm a disconnected individual which you can't involve… and can't stop," he commented, as if he were just talking to himself instead of to the Seraph. To that, Gabriel gave him this exasperated look that he'd seen once or twice on women. The kind that told him he was doing something they reluctantly liked but still disapproved of. "I guess that's something else to look into," he added, this time truly talking to himself.

'Why can't I stop adding things to my plate?' he thought with a grimace.

This time the amusement of his familiars was even less appreciated than before.

[}-o-{]

His daggers clashed against Jeanne's swords.

Joshua felt like it had been forever since he'd last sparred with his sister. At least since it had been just the two of them, he was sure. There was always someone else around, be it Sairaorg's group, Rias' group, Sona's, the Fallen… They saw a lot more people than he thought visiting their place, now that he really considered it.

He decided, then and there, that it had been a good idea to set up some training with just Jeanne that day. Especially judging by the way her face lit up and how she continued to smile through the spar, even as he pushed her more and more. 'This is fun,' he thought, his familiars contently watching from the sides. Well, most of them, since Margalo had taken to cheering for both of them whole flying overhead.

"Is that all? I know you can do better," he told Jeanne, turning her smile into a smirk.

"You asked for it, old man," she replied, to which he snorted, his grin widening. A moment later, the swords she had been using disappeared, replaced by Relentless Justice that she wielded alone. Seeing that, Joshua stored the regular Holy Daggers he'd been using in favor of letting out Setan Kober and Carnwennan.

Both weapons were fairly happy to be out and about again, even if it was just for a spar. Joshua was a little surprised by that, especially in regards to the demonic blade, but he guessed a practice battle was better than no battle at all. It had been a while since he'd gone out in the field, after all.

'Not for long, however,' he mused. He'd taken a bit of a break from raiding Hexennacht, but that was for the Phoenix Spell. Now that he was somewhat free again, he could easily save some time to show those Stray Magicians that they weren't out of the woods yet.

Not until the whole organization was dealt with.

Both of his daggers very much agreed with that, as it turned out, and that made them put that much more effort in his spar, it seemed. Which was good, because Jeanne was really going all out, it turned out. It was sort of baffling that his sister could keep up with him, Joshua thought. Especially after the rather sudden growth he'd experienced.

Sure, he had wards weighing him down and draining his strength, probably more than her, but that still left other things like reflexes and such. Jeanne honestly learned at a baffling rate and he could only guess that it was due to her Hero Descendant status. 'Nobody is made equal in this world, that's for sure,' he thought wryly.

Still, he was a little too much for her, even if the difference wasn't as big as one could expect.

"I think that's enough for now," he said, causing the girl to all but drop to the ground, gasping for hair and covered in sweat. Well, she kept up with him, but she certainly had to put more effort, so that was a bit comforting. With a smile, Joshua got a water bottle for each of them out of his Storage Spell and passed one to the struggling girl.

"Thanks," she breathed out. "You are ridiculous, Joshua."

"Pretty sure most people would say the same about you, just saying."

"And you are even more ridiculous," Jeanne shot back, to which he chuckled.

"I'm just cool like that, I guess," he commented, juggling Setan Kober up and down in the air. His sister just rolled her eyes at him as she continued recovering. "You've come really far from how I found you," he added then, his smile turning a little reminiscing.

And wasn't that the truth? Jeanne had been a nervous, unsure wreck back then. She'd been too afraid that he'd leave her, that he wouldn't help her. Back then it had taken a while to convince her to practice with him and such things. Now, she took to combat like she'd been born into it, with confidence that her past self would have hardly shown. She stood tall, sure of herself, and ready to take on the world if she needed it.

"Yeah, well, you did a good job with me, I guess," she said, giving him a thankful expression. "Have I thanked you, Joshua? Because I don't even know where I'd be if not for you, but I would certainly be worse off."

Well, considering he knew exactly where she'd be, he could easily believe that. However, that wasn't how she'd meant that and he knew that too. He could appreciate the sentiment, if nothing else.

"I think you have said that once or twice," he replied, moving to stand next to her and pulling her into a one-armed hug. They both stunk of sweat, but he didn't care much for that. They'd shower shortly anyway. "You are my sister though, so there's no need for thanks."

"Idiot," she huffed, but she didn't move away or anything. He was actually pretty sure she pressed against his side instead. "You are too nice."

"I'll take that as a compliment."

[}-o-{]

"Magic is weird."

"I mean, I agree," Joshua replied with an amused smile as he leaned back against his chair. Bringing a cup of tea up to his lips to take a sip, he looked across the table at Aika.

The girl had been studying the books he gave her for a while now and with some free time, he'd offered to talk with her. She'd been very understanding when he'd told her that he was kind of busy before, but the extra time had only given her more chances to get questions to ask him. So there they were, having an impromptu lesson at the cafe while Issei worked.

"Still, this is… really interesting," the girl said, pushing her glasses up and looking at the notebook on the table, where she'd noted down all his answers. "And you are a really good teacher, by the way. No chance I can get you to teach at Kuoh?"

"Not at all," he answered, making her deflate. "My days are busy enough as is, so no, thank you. I appreciate the compliment though. Once you get your feet under you, maybe I can get you into one of my magic classes."

"That'd be great," Aika replied, smiling widely. "Are associations as big a deal as the books make them sound?"

"I mean, they are all written by people that were in organizations like that, so you gotta take that kind of stuff with a grain of salt. It is important to have someone back you up in a world like this though. For most magicians, that's magician associations. I happen to be an exception, since I didn't even know about those, but I managed to stumble into situations that offered me some support," Joshua explained, smiling slightly as he saw Aika go back to taking notes. "Most people have a harder time learning magic than I do too, so that's another pro for associations, having someone to teach you so you might progress faster."

"So, what I'm hearing is that I don't need to worry about that since I'm under your wing?" Aika asked, and he chuckled. That might have sounded a little presumptuous to most, and it probably was, but he found it funny. Besides, she didn't seem to actually be assuming anything about the situation. She was asking a question honestly, indirectly asking if he was actually backing her or just giving her a little push.

Or at least, he was pretty sure that was what was going on.

"You don't and you are," he replied with a grin. "Do try not to make my image a mess, yeah?"

"I'll try," she answered, looking entirely too amused. Seeing that expression, Joshua just rolled his eyes. "In a serious note, what does this mean for me? Do I like, work for you? Or do I need to do anything at all?"

"I mean, most would try and have you work for them, yeah. Having the power of an extra magician is what I imagine makes most take in apprentices and such. Besides, any favor they incur can count for you too and all that," Joshua mused, bringing his cup up for another sip. "I don't care for that, honestly. Just do your best to learn. I might ask you for a favor or two, but it shouldn't be anything too complicated or anything that you'd say no to, I'm sure. If you feel like I ask too much, just say so. I'm not going to kick you to the curb because you didn't listen to a request or something."

"... I get the feeling that you are really lax about this."

"I'm sure many would agree with you, but I just don't care enough," Joshua replied, shrugging. "I mean, I'm sure there's stuff that I'm missing and not understanding or just plain don't know about. I'm more of an exception than the norm in the supernatural world, I've learned, so take anything I tell you with a grain of salt."

"Except about magic."

"Except about magic," he agreed, smiling. "Magic is a lot easier than people."

"Not sure what you could need with my magic. All I read is that it's not that powerful or useful, since it's very imprecise, especially when reading the future," Aika said, looking down at her notes. Her previous good mood seemed to have vanished into thin air too. "I mean, I get where they are coming from, but these authors… They seem to mock divination or regret taking it as their main magic. Few of them seem to really like it."

"It happens," Joshua told her with a reassuring smile. "One of my main magics is really under-appreciated. It's looked down on as a worse version of another magic that I use and they couldn't be further from the truth. There's no weak or bad magic, Kiryuu. It's all about how you use them. Even if those authors aren't lying, that doesn't mean it's the full truth. Magic is a wonderful thing. If you really try, I'm sure you can do great things with any branch."

"I guess," the girl replied, a tiny smile tugging at her lips. "I want to see where I can get with this."

"Then do it," he encouraged. "I'll be right here to help you out, get you all the books you might need and I can pull strings to get you a teacher," he promised, because it didn't cost him much anyway, Issei cared about this girl and she seemed like a good kid, as far as Joshua had seen. So, what reason did he have not to try and help her, really? "Just say the word. Maybe in the future I'll benefit from this too. They might just look at me and say "Hey, that's the guy that helped Aika Kiryuu, greatest diviner in the world!". That'd be cool," he commented, drawing a snort from the girl.

"Yeah, it'd be."

[}-o-{]

"Thanks, Fuyuko," Joshua said, teleporting the cup of tea the woman brought him to the table.

"You are welcome, Joshua-sama," the woman replied with a smile before doing so with the rest of the people in the room.

"So, things seem to be going well," he commented once the servant left.

"Well enough for you to give me some spel-"

"Is this why you really asked that Joshua be at the meeting, Azazel?" Yasaka interrupted the Governor, raising an unimpressed eyebrow. In response the Fallen Angel simply grinned at her, making the woman sigh. "Of course it is."

"I mean, your report was probably the worst of the bunch, no offense," Joshua told Azazel, making the man dramatically place a hand over his chest, as if severely wounded. "But I guess I can give you a pity spell," he continued joking, drawing a quick circle on a piece of paper and then tearing the thing out to pass it to the Governor. "I expect better in the future, Azazel," he continued, mock-serious, making the man laugh out loud.

"Don't ever change, Joshua. And thanks for this. Keep it up and I might just need to start worrying about actual payment," Azazel said, drawing stares from everyone else in the room. "Oh, relax, will you, ladies? Geez," he grumbled, rolling his eyes before teleporting off without so much as a by-your-leave.

"That man is… unpleasant," Gabriel commented, drawing agreeing nods and hums from Serafall and Yasaka. "With that said, I must be off too. We can't afford to look away from our own affairs for long, I'm afraid. Again, thank you for all the help you are providing us, Joshua," the angel said, turning to look at him specially.

He was a little surprised by that, but he guessed his wards had been helping more than expected or something. He could sense them just as much as those he bound to them, but he usually didn't pay too much attention. They were the ones supposed to deal with everything, after all. He just kept the possibility of checking on them in case something drastic happened.

He wasn't sure how the Church would react to that detail, but Gabriel herself had just said that she appreciated the gesture. She'd also said that they had to deal with their own issues though, so he wasn't to interfere in those. He was fine with that. He'd mostly just left that backdoor for himself in case Khaos Brigade tried something, really.

"No problem. We have a deal, after all."

"I don't think you realize that you are doing more than our deal would entail," Gabriel said, both amused and exasperated. "Carnwennan and the Boon Magic books are valuable, for sure, but what you are doing to help us in these times? It's much more than that."

"Well, I guess I'll keep you guys in mind if I need anything."

"Which is Joshua for "I won't tell you if I need anything and you'll be forever in my debt", more or less," Serafall "translated", drawing a nod from Yasaka.

"Thanks for that, Serafall."

"You're welcome, Josh!"

He just sighed.

"With that said, I'll see you all in the next meeting, or whenever we need you to set up more defenses, Joshua," Gabriel said, smile still in place before disappearing.

"Things are almost too calm, honestly," Joshua commented then, leaning back and drinking his tea. "I'm getting worried."

"Periods of peace aren't that rare, even in the middle of conflict-filled times," Yasaka told him. "You just need to enjoy them when they come around."

"Yeah, just relax and have fun, Josh!" Serafall told him. "Besides, this is what you need, after stressing so much with the Phoenix Spell, right?"

"You are not wrong about that," he replied, taking a deep breath in and letting himself ease up. "How about you, having an easier time with these "peaceful" times?"

"Well, Khaos and the Phenex are my main concerns right now and both are going fairly well, all things considered," Serafall told him, looking at the very picture of positivity. "The Phenex are actually kind of panicking a little, I think, trying to find a way for everything to happen without them losing face."

"And you are having fun with the show, I'm sure," he commented, making the woman giggle.

"Things are going well for me too," Yasaka said when he turned towards her. "No need to keep throwing favors at me, Joshua, truly. Things are progressing much better now that I've managed to get the ball rolling, as I've told you already. I've even managed to get some more time with Kunou, if that helps you understand this."

"It does," he answered with a smile. "Speaking of the brat, where is she? She usually barges right in as soon as the meetings end."

"She said she'd be late because she was preparing a spell to show you," the Youkai leader replied, making him tilt his head with interest. He hadn't heard about any new projects. Had the sneaky lil' girl started working on something without telling him?

"This works for us too," Serafall said, making him turn towards her. "We did have something to tell you, after all."

"Oh?" he mused, looking between the two women. What could they possibly have to tell him, together at that? Something Khaos Brigade related surely would have been brought up in the meeting. Maybe some political move that the Egyptians might be interested in?... He hoped not.

'Fuck politics,' he thought, with Set agreeing at the back of his mind. Joshua frowned then, noting several deities sending him waves of amusement and excitement. 'Who even are those?' he wondered. He tried to identify them, try to pick up something from them, but he couldn't quite find out much.

"I'm all ears then," he said in the end, bringing his cup of tea to his lips and taking a sip.

"We both like you, romantically," Serafall told him bluntly, smiling innocently.

Joshua paused, gulped his tea and then blinked.

He tilted his head, re-processing that statement.

He had heard wrong, right?

"We like you, Joshua," Yasaka reaffirmed, calm and collected as if she were talking about something completely normal and reasonable.

He hadn't heard wrong.

'What?'

[} Chapter End {]

Hey guys! How's it going?

… Well, that happened.

I'll be honest, guys. Romance is one of the things in writing that I'm the least confident in. I've made some attempts in the past in other stories, and while I'm somewhat confident I did a decent job then, this is a completely different set up of characters and personalities and… Well, I just hope you guys can give advice or at least cut me some slack. I'm trying my best here.

With that said, my nervousness isn't why this was delayed so much (I swear!). Maybe you've noticed, maybe you haven't, but Joshua isn't a social butterfly. He doesn't do well in social settings of any kind. He's been getting better through this story, but this is a huge thing for him that both Yasaka and Serafall realized. Thus, both women decided to give him some time, especially since he had things on his plate that he needed to focus on and neither wanted to make things harder for him. They are old beings, after all, they can afford to wait a little bit, especially for someone that's special to them.

Of course, there's a bunch of other reasons why things have been like this. I often don't convey everything into words well, or at all, because I like not explaining everything. If I do, it feels like I'm just telling you everything, instead of having you figure out why characters do what they do, or how things happen.

I realize that this style of writing might not be for everything, or even most people, but it's how I do things.

Anyway, 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: How good, or bad, a job have I done in this aspect so far? What do you expect from this going forward?... Hopefully your expectations won't be too high.

See you.