Disclaimer: I don't own Highschool DxD.

It's a New Dawn, It's a New Day

Kunou frowned in concentration, a bead of sweat forming on her forehead. Her nose wrinkled slightly as the drop fell over it and to the side, but she didn't let it stop her. Sitting next to her, Joshua watched attentively, at her, at the circle that formed over her hands and, lastly, at the results of her magic. It was a simple light illusion. It wouldn't even offer actual lighting, since it was just for show, a display instead of real light.

Kunou wasn't using a physical circle though, and that made all the difference. This was the result of her efforts so far. She'd had to memorize the entire circle, shape it with her magic and then maintain it without losing focus enough for it to dispel.

And she was doing great.

A smile formed on Joshua's face, but he didn't speak. He simply continued watching as the illusion fluctuated sometimes, but never actually fell apart even for a second. Sometimes, some colors would become more prominent, but it kept a steady shiny white for the most part. It didn't move though, which was quite the improvement from her previous attempt.

That had been a disaster because the little thing kept getting away from her. Figuratively and literally speaking. The spot of lighting would continue making dashes to the sides, forward, backwards, up and down, with Kunou having no control over it. It'd been quite amusing, even if it'd frustrated the little girl to no end.

She'd swiftly dealt with the problem, it seemed, which filled Joshua with pride.

God, was that what being a parent felt like? He wondered if he'd ever given his own father or mother that feeling. He doubted it, but then again, he had had his moments, back when he was younger and hadn't quite become the absolute mess after highschool was over. He hadn't been great, but he had been decently good at some things, he liked to think.

Kunou wasn't great either, even if he'd never tell her that. She was good though, and that meant about the same thing for him. Joshua was just happy to see her succeeding. He vowed to himself that he'd help her succeed in whatever she set her mind on.

As the light finally went out, he found himself about to see the reason for that promise.

Kunou beamed, turning towards him with what he could have sworn there were stars in her eyes. It was almost painful to see her like that, looking at him, almost begging him for approval. When he returned her smile, trying to put into an expression how pleased he was with her results and how proud he was of her progress, her grin widened.

"It went much better, didn't it, dad?" she asked then, bouncing where she sat, unable to contain her excitement.

"It did," he agreed, only slightly unsure of how to best express how he felt at that moment. Instead, he went for the usual and placed his hand on her head. "You did great."

She giggled giddily as her smile shifted into something a bit more shy, but not less pleased.

"Considering I didn't hear servants screaming or something, I'd say it's quite the improvement," a voice commented from behind them.

"Mooom!" Kunou whined, deflating.

"I mean, I think I saw Fuyuko looking at the thing warily when she came to deliver our tea," Joshua joined in, getting another protest from the little girl. "But she'll get there. She'll be putting up shows for everyone in no time, I'm sure," he added, giving the girl a smile and completely ignoring the annoyed pout she was sending his way.

"And I can't wait for that to happen," Yasaka said, smiling proudly at her daughter, who let out another pleased giggle despite her best attempts to remain angry at them. "Any projects you are working on besides this?" She asked, which was normal and innocent enough.

The look Joshua caught the leader sending him told him otherwise.

"I'm just trying to work my way up from the light just now," Kunou told her, somewhat unsure. It wasn't very impressive, when told like that, but she'd taken quite the step by using the magic without a physical circle. "And we are almost done with Project Strategy. Soon we'll be playing with it on breaks," she added, looking forward to that, which Joshua found a little strange. Even if he'd played the game when he was younger, he didn't think most children would be that excited about it.

"The household wards are coming along," Joshua commented first, as if those were the most important. "The chicken wards are… troublesome, as usual."

At that, Kunou tried and failed to hold back a laugh. That was what he'd been calling the Phoenix Ward project so far, so that people didn't actually know what that was all about. Kunou had been a little annoyed that he wasn't telling her what they were for, but she found the name hilarious enough to let the issue drop.

"As for the other one… There were some hiccups, but I got the information I wanted," he continued, doing his best not to grimace. Most Khaos members had crumbled quite quickly. Some, however, had put up some fight, compared to the previous group. So much so that Joshua had actually needed to put some weight behind his threat.

The Captain had been especially stubborn. So much so that Joshua learned what happened when the Weakening ward was taken just a little too far. At first, her insults and threats had started getting quieter and quieter and then it became obvious what the effects were. She got too weak to breath and he had the suspicion that her own heart was giving out.

She'd talked quite freely when he resetted the ward to give her a chance to speak.

"Now I just need to put it to use, I guess," Joshua added, which he'd already started doing.

Unfortunately, the members he caught didn't have all that much information regarding other bases. That made some sense, Joshua guessed. Each group only knew about their own base, so that if someone did exactly what Joshua had done, it wouldn't be quite so disastrous.

They did know quite a bit about the general area of Khaos territory, as it were. As it turned out, most of it was outside other factions', unlike that particular base. The organization was mostly taking over neutral ground and delving into occupied space when they planned attacks or had a specific objective inside said territory or regarding the faction in question. That was good, Joshua didn't want to step on too many toes, if he could help it.

He would, if he had to, but he'd prefer not to.

"Dad?" Kunou called, snapping him from his thoughts.

"Yeah?"

"Can we finish Project Strategy?" the girl asked. Pleaded, more like, and he could see that she was truly tired from her previous exercise.

"Well, I don't know about finishing, but we can work on it some more and see," he answered, storing most of the stuff he was working on before pulling out the necessary stuff for the project. It had been a simple enough one, really. He could have had it ready in a day or two if he really wanted. The point was doing it with Kunou, really, not to just get the spell to work. "So, have you thought about how we'll do that piece?" he asked, making Kunou frown.

Without her knowing, Joshua traded a smile with Yasaka.

"So, you haven't decided on that one yet?" the leader asked, taking a seat.

"Not really," he answered, absently looking as Kunou pulled a blank piece of paper and started drawing on it. "We kinda skipped that to decide everything else, since it was kinda being difficult."

"You mean Kunou couldn't decide how to do it?" Yasaka pointed out and he chuckled. Instead of saying anything, he just nodded. The leader smiled fondly at her child, who would have protested the accusation if not for the fact that she seemed very focused on what she was drawing.

"How about this?" said child suggested, thrusting the sheet on his face. Considering the drawing, he tilted his head and narrowed his eyes. Actually…

"Looks pretty good… Yeah, we can do it like that. I like it better than the original concept, really," Joshua admitted, giving Kunou a proud smile as she beamed at him. "Good job."

"See? I told you I'd come up with something better than just a soldier on top of a tower, dad," she boasted. He'd give her that though, she'd been completely right.

"True," he agreed, planting a hand on top of Kunou's head as they both picked up their tea cups and took a sip. "Now, we just need to do the actual work," Joshua added then.

Kunou, for her part, groaned.

As for Yasaka, she simply hid her mouth with her hand and giggled at her daughter.

[}-o-{]

"Honestly, I can't believe you made me do all that work for this," Joshua commented, giving Margalo an unimpressed expression. Regardless of his thoughts on the matter, the bird simply gave him a determined chirp, unlike her usually cheerful personality.

At that moment, the little bird was standing on a sword. More specifically a holy sword that was made to heat up when magic was channeled through it. The original version coated itself in flames, but that… Well, that was a bit much for what was supposed to be just training.

'It's interesting, how they focus on a single element's resistance,' Joshua noted to himself. Cheshire had gone for electricity. Nagini for heat and Morag for cold. And now, Margalo was following on the serpent's path, it seemed.

Although, he'd caught the snake giving Jeanne some glances whenever she was making the swords for resistance training.

'Maybe I should train on those myself. I haven't been giving that side much contemplation, besides Poison Resistance,' he mused. Morag's bites had never quite become a triviality. After all, the more she bit stuff, the more her Venomous Bite skill improved, which meant that no matter what, Joshua would never quite pull away.

There was a string of chirping that he could almost swear was curses coming from Margalo then and there. Chuckling to himself, he looked at the bird. He'd had to make a specific Restorative Ward for her training, since she insisted on going further than she was supposed to. On top of that, she was also trying to get a skill that allowed her to use magic, besides Agility, that is.

She wanted something offensive though. Apparently, she hadn't appreciated being the only one to be left out of the raid. Joshua would freely admit, he probably wouldn't take her even if she did get something to fight with. She was much more fragile than the other three. Morag was too, but the spider had her ways to keep herself safe, using traps and stealth. Margalo couldn't really do that when she was flying. Especially if it was in an enclosed space.

If the environment allowed though, Joshua supposed he could make an exception. Cheshire would go with her though, just in case. Call him paranoid or helicopter parent, but he'd known that bird since she'd been barely a hatchling, and he'd be damned if something happened to her on his watch. 'God, was I always such a parent, or is this Kunou's fault?' he wondered in the privacy of his mind.

"No luck making your singing attack?" he asked, watching as the little magical swift deflated. "Have you tried… Not making an attack?" he was pretty sure the look Margalo gave him wasn't a happy one. A hunch of his, as it were. "I'm not trying to discourage you from fighting or anything. But maybe approaching it from another angle will help? You are a nice bird, Margalo, I'm not surprised that attacking doesn't come naturally to you."

She chirped something that sounded like a half-hearted complaint.

"So, I was thinking. Agility was easy enough, right? So making something else that isn't really for attacking might be doable. And from there, you can try to look for a way to turn that into something for offense," he explained calmly. "Or it could help you with the process of making another skill that can actually be used for attack."

The bird gave that a long moment of thought before chirping something that sounded affirmative to him. Joshua nodded, and then watched get try for a bit before his eyes moved to the side. Everyone was training, and that everyone now included a group of friends he'd offered to have over so they could use his training wards.

Having Rias's peerage over was… not what he'd expected. Joshua had half thought that it would be a bit of a mess. He knew they weren't the most stable of people, after all. Evidently, he'd either gotten the wrong impression or the show hadn't quite shown their characters well enough.

Akeno, for example, had her trigger regarding her Fallen side, but that was about it. Granted, she still seemed to have Joshua in her shitlist somewhere, because she was always cold towards him. Cold, but not insultingly so. Hell, at that very moment, the half-Fallen was training with Cheshire to use lightning. Just for that and how well she got with the rest of his little family, he could forgive her attitude towards him.

'Not like I don't understand having a touchy subject,' Joshua mused, his hand moving towards his locket.

"Is that important?" someone asked from his side and he turned to look at Koneko. "You always touch it from time to time."

"A family heirloom, you could call it. It was my father's and his father's before him."

"And his father's before him?" the girl asked with that flat tone of hers. Jeanne said it made her nervous, like it was unnatural. As for Joshua… Well, he got where his sister was coming from, sure, but he also found that… calming, in a way. When people were too emotional in any way, it overwhelmed him, if he was honest.

"No, it was his mother's before that. She was the one that got it, actually. Or so I was told," Joshua explained with a chuckle.

"She knows you are trying to protect her," Koneko said, almost out of nowhere, her yellow eyes fixed on Margalo as the bird continued training. "She wants to protect you too."

"I know that," Joshua admitted with an uneasy smile. "I guess it's just how I am. I want to protect everyone."

"And save everyone," the reincarnated Nekoshou added.

'I think Khaos Brigade would disagree with that,' Joshua thought to himself, almost grimacing as he once again remembered what he'd likely done to all the members he'd got. Even if it was indirect, it felt pretty direct for him.

"I guess," he replied instead of voicing his thoughts.

"Margalo too," Koneko added and Joshua laughed, his eyes finding the subject that the white-haired girl had likely been referring to before. Jeanne, who was currently sparring with Kiba. The two had taken to doing that every time the Gremory group visited to train. With their similar skill sets, they could help push each other to go a little further with their swords. "You really care about them all."

"I do," he agreed easily, truly not knowing where that had come from.

Koneko simply hummed then and Joshua was left wondering what was going through her mind. He'd have thought she felt something in his bond with his familiars, like Yasaka and Kunou had commented on some time ago. However, he also knew that she didn't like to use that particular talent of hers… to put it mildly.

"Rias is very grateful," The girl continued then, and Joshua found himself looking at the redhead, who was training with Nagini, actually. Or, maybe it was better to say that the Gremory heiress was training while under the watch of the serpent. His snake familiar had taken a rather surprising interest in the girl.

'Maybe the Power of Destruction appeals to her, considering the chaotic nature of Nagini's eyes?' Joshua reasoned. He wanted to study that power, if he was honest, but he already had his hands full trying to work on a bunch of different projects. So much so that he barely had time for the things he was working on, nevermind something new.

"Well, I've told you guys that you can come whenever, just call ahead of time," Joshua commented, even if he knew they wouldn't take him up on that offer. After all, he'd already had that talk with the leader of the group.

Rias had explained it to him, but he honestly thought it was stupid. Apparently, they couldn't use his help too much to get better if there wasn't a direct tie to them. The devil nobles would accuse the Gremory's of indirectly helping her, even if they actually weren't doing that. They were either a paranoid bunch or they were trying really hard to screw Rias or her family over.

Honestly, if he hadn't met some of the good devils around, Joshua would have given the faction the same treatment he gave the Church. 'All factions have their bad apples… or maybe the good ones are the special ones?' he thought to himself.

"We would…" Koneko replied simply and he thought that would be it. Until she found something else to bring up randomly. However, it seemed that the surprise was that she'd follow that thread. "Being here… it's nice."

"Ah… Well, I'm glad," Joshua said, unsure of what else to… Well, say.

"It's peaceful here and nobody expects anything. You are friendly and so is the rest," Koneko continued, looking away at everyone else training instead of at Joshua. "At school, there's always someone watching, someone to put an act for, or someone to hide ourselves from. Here… We can do whatever."

"Well, you can come here to do whatever too, if you want to. No need to just come for training," Joshua told her then, a slightly nervous smile on his face. "I could always use more friends."

Koneko hummed something then. A moment later, she sighed resignedly and he gave her a smile. That was the sign that the break was over and she needed to go back to training. As she stood up though, she paused for a second.

"The spider feels… weird."

And with that, she left.

'I wonder if that means what I think it means,' Joshua mused to himself as he turned to look at where his arachnid familiar was weaving yet another artistic web. She was inching towards making her webs into magic circles though and if he was honest, Joshua was looking forward to her starting to cast magic with them. It'd be quite the sight to beyond, he was sure.

"Guess I should go back to training," he mumbled to himself. Pausing, he considered something. Then he took off the jacket he was wearing and after that came the rest of his upper clothes until he was shirtless. The cold hit his skin before he was even done, but that was the idea.

[Skill Unlocked: Cold Resistance]

[}-o-{]

"You are being mean, Joshua," Kunou accused, eyes narrowed and with her pout in place. She was careful not to call him "dad" since Fuyuko was leaving them their tea cups. Although, judging by the way the yuki-onna's lips twitched into a smirk, he was fairly sure that the cat was already out of the bag, at least with the youkai servants.

"No idea what you are talking about," he replied, doing his best to keep his expression neutral. "Knight to E7," he added then. Both of them looked as the horse riding warrior moved its mount towards the aforementioned tile on the board. Once there, the knight pulled out its sword and pointed it at Kunou's king, who seemed to inch back, afraid. "And check."

"Joshuaaaa!" The girl whined, making him chuckle. "Stop being mean!"

"I'm sure you'll get better with time, Kunou," he reassured after getting his laughter under control.

"Joshua-sama?" Fuyuko said then, drawing his attention towards her. It wasn't often that she talked directly to him, really. More often than not she was just a helping hand, throwing comments here and there when she was around. However, actually calling for him was a strange occurrence. "There's someone here to talk to you."

"Oh?" He blinked.

"They said they are a representative of the House of Water association," the yuki-onna offered as a means of explanation, even if it didn't help all that much. "They also said they'd have contacted you directly or at your home, but they didn't have the information to do so."

Joshua took both statements in as he blinked. The first was easy enough. He might have not paid too much attention to the other magicians when they'd all been around to help Yasaka, but he remembered someone from the House of Water taking the time to talk to him. 'Elias, was it?' He wondered idly.

The second was important though, because he was sure that anyone could find out where he lived if they put enough effort into it. Or, at least they'd get a way to contact him. The Church hadn't had any problems getting his phone number, after all. So, the House of Water had probably purposely not looked that up.

Strange, but not bad, he supposed.

Joshua had to wonder why though. Was it so that the youkai were aware that they were contacting him? Was that some political play he wasn't understanding there? It was a distinct possibility, and he'd work with the assumption that it was until proven otherwise.

Alternatively, it could just be that they hadn't wanted to strike him as strange. The Church had left him a little unnerved with all the information they had on him. Was that it? Some attempt at making him feel more comfortable? If that was the case, he could appreciate it.

'Oh, right, I gotta answer and all that,' he realized after a moment.

"Um, sure? Where do I have to go?" Joshua asked, unsure of what to do from there. "Ah, should I take them home instead of meeting them here?"

"Yasaka-sama said you can use one of the meeting rooms here," Fuyuko informed him. "Now, if you'd follow me?"

"Ok, just… Take some time to think over your move, I guess," Joshua said, turning to Kunou, who had been following the conversation like one would a tennis match. "And if I take too long, you can study for a bit or do homework. No lazing around, ok?"

"Ok, I'm not a child," Kunou protested, crossing her arms and pouting, which really didn't help her argument. Showing much more restraint than the giggling Fuyuko, he simply smiled at the girl and patted her head.

"Of course," he replied, standing up and following the youkai servant out of the room. From there, they made their way through several halls until they finally reached a small room with a table and a few seats. There he found a woman waiting, wearing old style clothes. 'Reminds me of the Harry Potter wizarding world outfits from the movies. Then again… were those not actually old style and I just don't know fashion at all?' He thought idly to himself as he moved to sit across the woman.

"Joshua Davis, I assume?" The woman asked, after the Fuyuko left and the silence in the room had stretched a bit. Joshua hadn't quite broken it because he didn't know what to even start with, but also because he was trying to get a read on the woman. Only thing he got was that she had a very good poker face, really.

"You'd assume right. And you are?" He replied, tilting his head a little.

"Elizabeth Brown, I'm here to represent the House of Water," the now named Elizabeth answered, nodding at him. "I'm also here to ask something from you in the name of the association."

'So, they want something out of me,' Joshua summarized, raising an eyebrow. He really didn't like that roundabout way of saying stuff, but she'd left it simple enough that he couldn't really get annoyed.

"What do you want and what's in it for me?" He asked, maybe more bluntly than he needed to, going directly to the point. If the woman was surprised by that, she didn't show it in any way. Points to her just for that, Joshua supposed.

"We'd like for you to teach a class for our members," She said, which was…

'What?'

[} Chapter End {]

Hey guys! How's it going?

A rather calm chapter after a handful of plot progressing ones, but it can't all be back to back raids and attacks and such. At least, not in my stories… Unless my characters decide to, because let's be real, I've got no idea what they'll do most of the time.

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: Joshua and Kunou's Project Strategy should be obvious enough to guess. What other projects do you think they have?

See you.