Disclaimer: I don't own Highschool DxD.

-To More Than I Can Be

He stared at the two.

First, he looked at Yasaka, who seemed about as calm as one could be. He tried to read her through his Life Sense, but he knew it was useless. She was a master of Senjutsu, after all. There was no way he'd read anything but what she wanted.

Serafall wasn't much better, sitting there like a happy child waiting for… something. She wasn't a master of life energy usage, but she was no doubt good enough to hide from his senses whatever she wanted to. There was no way he'd get anything from her, or Yasaka.

His senses, his spells, they were all useless at reading them. Maybe if he'd been home but… He'd never really had a reason to have something to read them with. So, he'd have to do this the hard way, thinking about it.

Unfortunately… he didn't even know what to do here.

They meant it though, what they were saying. Joshua believed that much even if he didn't understand why or how it had all come to be. Were it anyone else, he might have thought it was a joke, or a trick, or something else. He trusted Yasaka and Serafall though. They were friends and close ones at that. They knew how he was, maybe even better than he knew himself.

So… there was no way they'd say something like that, without meaning it.

He wanted to believe that, at least.

Hence his internal panic at that moment, because he didn't know what to do. How was he supposed to answer that? What was he supposed to say? What was he supposed to feel?

Because he was fairly sure that the unending confusion and nerves he was feeling wasn't how it was supposed to go.

"Joshua," Yasaka said, snapping him out of spiraling thoughts, if only by scaring him even more. Did they want an answer right the- "Joshua, breathe," she told him softly and he let out a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding. "Relax."

"Everything's fine, Josh," Serafall joined in, her smile widening a little. "We know you aren't… used to this kind of thing," she said and he almost wanted to laugh at that. If that wasn't an understatement, then he didn't know what was. "Take your time, there's no rush."

Joshua opened his mouth to say something then, maybe a thank you, or a question, or… a number of things, but his mind was such a mess all of a sudden that he just ended up saying nothing and closing his mouth again. How had things gone from nice and calm to… whatever the fuck all that was? It was safe to say that he hadn't seen that coming.

In hindsight though, as he tried to process things… maybe he shouldn't have been so surprised, he supposed. Looking back at things, both of them had acted strangely at times. In a way that he now could guess pointed in this direction. He'd just never realized what it was, at all. Or maybe it was more accurate that he hadn't thought it was possible, thinking it all wishful thinking and misunderstandings.

In his defense… Romance had never been a thing that was prominent in his mind. At times he'd wonder if he would ever meet someone to spend his life with, or even share a temporary relationship. Maybe he'd think like that about certain people at times, especially the two in front of him but… It had always been just idle thoughts at best, however. A daydream and a fantasy, something for the future that was unlikely to happen or something that just wouldn't happen at all.

A soothing feeling washed over him, foreign but calming. Joshua knew where it came from immediately. The Charm and his connection to the Egyptian Pantheon. He appreciated the nudge, because he felt like he was a wreck, but this was personal and private, so…

'Leave, please,' he thought and, surprisingly, the deities listened. Some seemed to grumble and protest, but all of them left in the end. For that alone, he was grateful, at least.

"I… don't know how to feel… What to say…" he managed to mumble eventually, finding the words even if they weren't what he'd have liked to say and likely weren't what the two women wanted to hear. He was a mess though, and he was a-

"Joshua, we understand," Yasaka reassured him, making him deflate both because he felt useless and because he was relieved to hear that. "It's one of the reasons we waited. We didn't want to overwhelm you when you had things to focus on, things to worry about."

"We also didn't want to wait forever though, so… sorry if we were a little impatient," Serafall continued and it took Joshua less than a second to realize that they were working together on this. Not a surprise, considering how they had approached things but still…

'I need to think,' he realized, because he was letting the emotions get him and he needed to cool down his brain else he let things get worse. 'So, think,' he urged himself…

And so he did. He pushed aside the emotions and tried to be more factual, using the same process he would a spell. Process the information, the meaning and how to move forward.

They liked him, he was working with the assumption that they actually did. They were working on this together too. That, together with the world he was in connected to a dot that… confused him even more. 'See the facts,' he told himself. Because he'd have thought someone liking him improbable before, so what was a little more, right?

They liked him… and they wanted to be with him… both?

'And I thought the world already didn't make sense,' Joshua thought to himself.

"Why would you even-?" he started asking, before his eyes widened and he leaned back a little. The looks on both women's faces was plenty scary, he wasn't ashamed to admit.

"I do hope you weren't going to ask why we like you, Joshua," Yasaka said, making him gulp. He was suddenly very aware that these two were insanely strong, something that strangely enough didn't come up much in his mind. "I do believe you know what most of my reasons are, but I'll add some you might not be aware of," the youkai continued after a moment, relaxing a little, much to Joshua's relief.

Indeed, he could think of maybe one Kunou-shaped reason, but surely-

"On top of how good you are with and to Kunou, I do like you for other reasons too. For one, you aren't a coward." Well, Joshua didn't need to be a genius to get where that one came from. "And you are not only a good father, but a good man in general. It's refreshing, for one, to have someone that doesn't really care who I am. I can't tell you how much I enjoy the times when we just get to spend time together, without having to worry about politics or what's proper. I know I seem to always be in control, but the outside and the inside are different at times, Joshua, you should know. So thank you, for giving me a respite from the things I have to live with, and even helping me in regards to them."

Now, that was possibly one of the most emotional moments he'd seen from Yasaka, Joshua realized easily. Sure, he'd seen her show some things at times. Sadness and joy, but this was different. This was more raw and it was ironic, because her face and voice didn't show much, still mostly calm and as if she were stating the most natural of facts, but her eyes were suddenly a lot more expressive than they'd ever been.

"And I do believe it's my turn now," Serafall took over with a bright smile, her tone joking. That is, before she deflated a little where she sat and her expression took a much softer look. "I know I'm not an easy person to deal with, you know? But you didn't just put up with me. You seemed fine with it, you seem to even like me being me and that's… that's important to me, Joshua, very much."

Serafall looked downright shy. Was the world going mad?

"Yasaka and I share a lot of our reasons for liking you, but I wanted to add that, because it really does mean a lot to me. Especially that you decide to play along at times and… Well, most of my friends are like me. We are weird and we know it. So, it's nice to know someone that's more… down to earth that won't look down on us – on me – as we are, I guess," Serafall explained, a soft smile on her face that was really pulling at his heartstrings. That just wasn't fair.

How was he supposed to think clearly when they were doing this to him?

'What do I do with this information?' he asked himself then, gulping and trying not to let a knot form in his throat. He needed to stay calm. Yasaka and Serafall were waiting patiently, but he didn't want to leave them there forever. How long had passed? How long would they wa-? 'No, think.'

"... I like you too," he said then, confused and nervous, but confident in that, if nothing else. Of course he liked them. How could he not like them, honestly? They were gorgeous, but more than that they were incredible women, both of them.

How was he supposed to not like Yasaka, when she was such a rock in his life, offering him support through the rough patches that he'd gone through since he met her. She'd helped him overcome some things that he'd struggled with for a while. It was her that pushed him to recover from his losses, more than time or anyone else. She'd given him someone to open up to and someone to soothe some of the pain that he'd carried with him.

How was he supposed to not like Serafall, when she was such a ray of sunshine, bringing some joy to otherwise somewhat dull or sad days wherever she went. She might have been weird for some people, but he enjoyed that about her. She was a constant source of positivism that he simply didn't have a lot of in his life. Things were always happier with her around, and that was something that Joshua could very easily appreciate.

"I like you too." he repeated, a smile forming on his face. His nerves were there too, but… But he trusted these two women. He trusted them with a lot of things so… What was a little more, right? At least that simple response seemed to be good enough for both of them, if their responding smiles were anything to go by. Trying to pull himself together, he went to speak again. "I'll admit though… I have no idea what I should do, or say so… I mean…"

He took a deep breath in. ''Relax, don't overthink,' he thought to himself, sighing. He desperately wanted to take a sip from his tea, but it felt wrong, to be so casual about this. He needed to take this seriously and do something. Both Yasaka and Serafall deserved that much, at the very least.

He looked between them, and thought about how they'd approached this. Furthermore, he thought back to some of the interactions he'd witnessed between the two and that now gained a whole new meaning. He thought of some of the things they'd said and done…

"You've been thinking this over for a while," he commented, not a question but a statement.

"We have, yeah," Serafall replied, still all smiles as she nodded for emphasis.

"We are sorry if that bothers you in any way, but… We had to make some things clear between the two of us," Yasaka continued and it was kind of intimidating that they were so… in sync, as it were.

"And after that, we both agreed that it was better to wait, so…" Serafall finished, trailing off. He got the idea though, sort of. It still sounded like absolute madness when he tried to go over it, but denying things would make even less sense.

"So… I mean… I don't want to misunderstand anything," he mumbled, gulping again and running his fingers through his hair. Neither of those actions calmed his beating heart nor his nerves. "But you two-?"

"Like you," Serafall finished for him, making him swallow a nervous chuckle.

"What I meant to say is-"

"And we want to be with you," Yasaka interrupted this time, actually answering the question he'd been going for.

"At the same time, yes," Serafall added.

"That… ok…" Joshua muttered, leaning back a little.

He pictured that, or tried to. He couldn't quite fit the pieces in his mind, but that was because he wasn't from this world. He came from a world where the kind of thing they were talking about was… unconventional at best, at least in most places, from what he knew. In their cultures though, it might not be, if he remembered right.

So, he took a moment to work around that issue, thinking about it in a different way. Did he want to be with Serafall? Yes, of course. Did he want to be with Yasaka? Yes, of course. He had doubts though, fears and insecurities. Probably the same or at least related to the ones that had stopped him from realizing what was happening around him.

And yet…

"I'd like that too," he said then, a nervous smile appearing on his face as he saw Serafall positively beam and Yasaka smile wider. "I… You need to know that I don't know what I'm doing right now and I'm definitely not going to know what I'm doing in the future, so-"

"We know that, Josh," Serafall told him, bouncing where she sat like an excited child.

"We know what we are getting into. Don't worry," Yasaka added kindly.

Joshua's smile widened a little bit.

"I guess, if you really want to put up with me, I'll enjoy it until you realize I'm a mess," he commented before flinching as he felt something hit his head. Leaning down, he looked at Serafall's "magic staff" and the glare on her face… And on Yasaka's face.

"None of that," the Satan told him, all but pouting.

"I'm sorry, I just… Sorry. That was stupid."

"We know you have your insecurities, Joshua," Yasaka told him kindly, her glare receding for a moment. "But we've both chosen you, so, if nothing else, let that give you some confidence, will you?"

"I'll try," he answered, because that was as much as he could say at the moment in regards to that. "So, since you are the ones with a plan and all, what comes n-"

"Now," Serafall interrupted, making him turn towards her with a half-smile. Now with his mind slightly – very slightly – less scrambled, he almost expected that of her. "You are going to take me on a date, mister, because Yasaka's been insufferably smug about you two going on dates all the time."

"Dates? We haven't-"

He stopped himself and thought about that. Slowly, all the outings with Kunou came to mind. Did those count as dates? Kunou was there, but then again, people could bring their kids to dates… right? He wasn't too sure, but maybe that logic worked somehow?

"Stop being so childish, Serafall. You've been on dates with him too, on your own," the youkai woman pointed out and Joshua's brain screeched to a halt again before he blinked. 'I mean, we have gone to the cafe together alone a few times but… I mean… That's…'

He sighed.

"Just now realized, didn't you?" Yasaka asked, to which he gave her a defeated look and then brought his cup of tea to his lips. He needed something nice, warm and relaxing or he might just lose his mind. Besides, at least it looked like things were finally a little less… serious? Maybe?

Still, what was the world coming to when this kind of thing could happen to him?

"Silly Josh," Serafall said patronizingly then, hopping to stand next to him and patting his head.

"I feel like a fool," he mumbled.

"But you are a hot fool, so that's fine, right?" Serafall commented, making him choke on his tea. Well, that was one way to shock him, he supposed. When was the last time someone had called him that, if ever? Well, Kuroka threw comments like that at times, but she was just…

Well, Joshua thought she was just joking, at least.

"Serafall, don't mess with him," Yasaka told the other woman, drawing a pout from the Satan. "He's still processing things, don't you see? At least wait for a bit."

"Fine~"

"I'd have been much more grateful without that "wait for a bit", you know?" he commented, drawing giggles from both of them. Yeah, silly him, he supposed. Joshua sighed then, drinking some more tea. He was suddenly feeling very tired on top of being overwhelmed. His hand moved up to his chest, grabbing his locket and rubbing his thumb over it. "I guess I agreed too quickly, huh?"

"We'll make sure you don't regret it, Josh. I promise," Serafall told him happily, walking behind him and hugging him from behind. Surprisingly – or maybe not – that did make him feel better, more relaxed. This was happening, yes, and it was scary… But he was in good hands, he knew. There were very few that he'd trust more than these two and none that weren't family.

Speaking of.

"Kunou is going to be overjoyed," Joshua commented, drawing an even bigger smile from Yasaka and a chuckle from Serafall. Everyone knew that the girl wanted him to get with her mother and have a proper family. He'd thought that was just a dream before, of course, and had done his best not to give her too much hope without crushing her hopes either…

Evidently, he shouldn't have worried so much.

"Oh, you noticed that but didn't notice us?" Serafall asked, more amused than accusing. "Honestly, I was starting to wonder if you were aromantic or something. Because you are definitely not asexual, I did notice that much," she commented, making him tense up.

So, maybe he wasn't as discreet as he thought he was with his glances… In his defense, how was one supposed to not look at her or Yasaka? That was just impossible unless you were actually asexual… maybe even then. That was just unfair.

"So," he mumbled, gulping as he let go of the locket. Better to change the subject. "About that date?"

[}-o-{]

"This is… surprisingly normal," Joshua commented, taking in the place Serafall had decided would be where their first official date would take place. It was… a cozy restaurant. He wasn't very sure where they were, but people spoke English, so there was that.

It wasn't a 5 star place, he knew that much, but it wasn't a cheap one either. It was just… a nice place. Seemed to be run by a family with some employees and the menu seemed pretty family recipe-ish. All in all, it was warm, somewhat unassuming establishment.

"I found this place some time ago," Serafall told him, smiling softly in a way very unlike her. "I know I'm kind of… weird at times, but I can like normal things too."

"I know that," he replied with a smile of his own. Then that smile turned into an embarrassed grimace as he brought a hand up and scratched his forehead. 'Am I really doing this?' he thought.

"Josh? Something the matter?" Serafall asked, looking a little concerned all of a sudden. "Maybe I should have waited a bit? I was a little excited by you did just go through that whole thing and I might-"

"Serafall," he interrupted, making her mouth click shut. He smiled then, a little amused. At least it was good to know that he wasn't the only nervous one. Sure, it was a little weird to see her, who was always so in control of herself in her own unique way, be like that too. "I'm just going to do something really embarrassing and stupid… And I might cringe to death."

"Yes?" she urged him, suddenly very interested, which didn't help him feel better.

"I made a promise some time ago, so now I gotta keep it, I guess," he added, gulping down his doubts and nervousness. Better to get it over with, he decided. Bringing his hand up, he flicked his fingers a bit, pulling out something from a Storage Spell. "Here," he mumbled, his focus being in not letting his hand tremble nor becoming an embarrassed mess.

Serafall, for her part, stared at the objects in his hand, her eyes widening slightly. Slowly, agonizingly so, the woman moved her own hands to take the offered gifts and bring them towards her. She didn't say anything after that, simply bringing the flowers to her face and breathing in their scent.

'Well, she's not laughing at me, so that's good?' he thought to himself, leaning back on his chair and feeling his face heat up. He felt like an idiot, but at least Serafall seemed to be fine with it? Having her say something would help, that was for sure. As it was, his mind continued torturing him with guesses.

"This is a very specific flower to give," Serafall mumbled, holding them with one hand while she softly caressed a petal with a finger of the other. She almost looked like she was afraid to break them or something. "Can I ask why?"

"Irises mean faith, courage, valor, hope and wisdom," he commented as calmly as he could, looking away. "Yellow ones imply passion," he added, choking a bit on that as he tried not to shut down. "But also joy and happiness… I thought they fit well enough. Hope for something good and joy and happiness… because that's what you make me think about. What you bring me… mean for me, I guess" he managed to say without stuttering or anything.

He brought a hand up to rub his locket once more, trying to calm down.

"I love them," Serafall told him, positively beaming as she continued holding the flowers in front of her. "Thank you, Josh."

"I'm just glad you liked it," he replied with an awkward smile. 'I guess you were right, mom,' he thought to himself, feeling a little more confident. Maybe he was just overthinking it. "Now, you know this place better than I do, any suggestions?"

"Of cou-"

"That aren't there some diabetes-inducing desserts?" he interrupted, making the Satan deflate and pout at him.

"Fine, ruin my fun…" she grumbled. "Meanie."

Joshua just laughed.

"Also," he continued, drawing a curious look from Serafall. "Can I call you Sera? It's a little awkward to call you Serafall when you call me Josh, for some reason," he commented. For whatever reason, that seemed to be the perfect thing to say, because the woman was all smiles immediately afterwards.

"Sure you can!"

Joshua smiled back at her then, feeling a little more confident. Maybe he could do this, after all. Now he just needed to-

"Something the matter?" he asked, looking as Serafall stood up from her seat and walked around the table towards him. Before he could say anything else she leaned down and his brain stopped working for a moment as he felt her soft lips on his.

"That," she said, standing straight once more and looking like a happy camper as she skipped back to her seat. "Is because of the flowers."

"... Glad you liked them," he mumbled, a little stunned. Then again, he should have known to expect the unexpected with Serafall. On that note, maybe he should have expected her to grab the collar of his shirt and pull him in for another kiss.

"And that's for the time I had to wait."

This time, Joshua simply remained silent, at a loss for words.

[}-o-{]

"We could have gone somewhere, you know?" Joshua asked, feeling a little awkward sitting there where he was. They were just outside his house, on the back part facing Asia's garden. The girl herself was inside. Asia had easily agreed when he'd asked her if he could have the house to himself that night, simply having dinner a little earlier and going to her bedroom. She'd simply smiled and told him that she'd use the time to study some of the plant books he'd gotten her.

Kuroka and the Fallen had simply been ordered away and they were under especially watchful wards that he'd added that same day, just in case. They'd been a little unnerved by the sudden extra security, but Joshua didn't much care for that. Yasaka had wanted them to have a quiet night at home.

So, in light of that, Joshua had done his best to give her what she'd asked for.

They'd had a nice dinner that he'd prepared himself, pushing the limits of his Cooking skill. Other than that, they'd just talked. It was normal. The usual thing, basically. Not at all different from how meals were when they went out with Kunou, unlike the date with Serafall, which had been a sort of more intimate affair than how they usually were.

'I really had been going on dates with Yasaka all that time, huh?' he wondered as he sat next to Yasaka.

"We could have, but I didn't feel like going anywhere. I like just spending time with you, Joshua," the youkai woman told him, with that smile that made his insides twist and turn. "Besides, I wanted to focus just on the two of us. I have to say… I'm very glad that we can spend time like this now. It's not much different from what we usually did but-"

"It's different enough," he finished for her, receiving a smile in response. "Yeah, I think I get what you mean," he added, bringing a hand up to his locket and rubbing it with his thumb. It was the same as usual and some might call that boring… but Joshua appreciated that. He didn't know what Yasaka liked about it, but what he enjoyed was that it brought up the peace that the woman symbolized in his mind. That calm and comforting feeling was what he enjoyed about it, especially that night.

Now, he just needed to give her the flowers before he lost his nerve. Good thing that he at least knew it could go well. So, gathering his courage, he noticed Yasaka looking at him very intently. Too intently, actually, which…

"Serafall told you," Joshua said. He was guessing, of course. There was no way he could actually read Yasaka, but still…

"Yes, she did," she acknowledged with a kind smile as if nothing were wrong.

"Well, there goes that, I guess," he commented, making the flowers appear. He'd thought he'd wait until the end of the date this time, change things up a little. If she'd been waiting though, maybe he should have done it sooner. "I know they aren't the normal thing to give but…"

"But they have meaning," she finished for him, looking at the gift he'd brought for her. "And I like them. I have to ask though, is that because of my eyes? Because that's sweet," she commented, her amber eyes not moving away from the flowers. He could get where the comment came from, considering the petals of this one were yellow but progressively more brown towards the edges, giving them an amber look, like Yasaka's eyes.

"Brown irises symbolize security, stability and warmth," Joshua told her, a soft smile on his face as he passed them to her. "I don't think I have to explain, do I?"

"No, you don't," she answered, taking the flowers and looking at them. "This means more than what you are saying, don't they?"

"They do, and maybe I'll tell you one day," he told her, his hand back on his locket. "I'd like to keep that to myself, if it's all the same to you."

"I've had to wait for you before, Joshua. I can wait a bit more for this," she told him. "I'm just happy we can be together like this… truly so now," she added, looking at him and there was something in her eyes that stopped him from answering. Silenced, he could only watch as the woman slowly approached him.

Even expecting it, the kiss was a surprise, slow and tender where Serafall's had been fast and full of emotion. Joshua supposed that fit them, in its own way. As she pulled back with a smile, he was sure that he was mirroring her expression.

There was silence then, but as he looked at her, he held onto his locket still.

"Someone's going to love you some day, Joshua," he remembered his mother telling him. "It'll happen, and it'll change your life. You might not be the best with words or gestures, but let them know, alright? Maybe you can do what your father did for me to do so. He got me these iris flowers, red ones. Romantic passion and love, they mean. It was a whole silly gesture at the time, but very sweet.'

He was brought back to the present when Yasaka leaned forward again, placing a hand on his chest.

"No, I don't think I'm done with just that," she said, her voice low as she reached forward and kissed him again. Carefully but firmly, Joshua was pushed back until he was lying on the floor instead of sitting, with Yasaka on top of him.

[} Chapter End {]

Hey guys! How's it going?

This chapter was painful to write. Even right now, a day before posting it, I just want to delete it all and go back to the last chapter and change the ending. Alas, I can't do that.

Now, romance isn't my strong suit, I've said it a bunch of times already. It's just not something I'm good at, either in real life or in writing. So, I have a hard time with it. For the most part, I think I've managed to do a decent job in other stories of mine.

This one though? Oh God, please kill me.

And somehow my muse decided to write a whole chapter, longer than usual, dedicated entirely to this.

Ugh…

Anyway, I hope I didn't do as terrible a job as I think and that you enjoyed the chapter…

Ugh…

Announcement: I started another story by the name of "Kingdom Fables". It's a "story" where I'll post several different projects which I'm working on with other people (just Arclight from my Discord server right now but that might change), just to get them out there and try to get opinions on them, so even if you don't like what's there, chances are that a new project will pop up later and you might like that one better than the others. So, please, give it a try and tell us what you think.

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: Can you kill me, please?

See you.