"Buchou means well," Kiba told Issei as they walked through the small forest behind the Occult Research Club. "She's not trying to limit your freedom or anything, but going near a church like that is risky. Devils, angels, and fallen angels have been at war for thousands of years. Even now, during a cease-fire, it isn't rare for each side to kill the other with the appropriate pretense."

"I was just helping Asia," Issei defended himself with a frown at the blond boy.

The Damn Handsome!

"Who is the enemy," Kiba pointed out, but not unkindly. "If you had actually stepped foot on church soil, then any priests would have an excuse to kill you, and there would be nothing Rias could do to get justice for you without restarting the war or putting all of us at risk. It's the perfect place to lure a new devil to kill them before they grow in power."

"I don't understand all this!" Issei rubbed his hair with frustration. "It wasn't some sort of trap! Asia wouldn't hurt a fly. She was super kind. She healed this kid in the park and didn't even complain when his mother was rude."

"Healed?" Kiba paused in his tracks. He stared at the other boy with an intensity that Issei didn't like.

Issei wasn't like that. He liked boobs!

"It was just a scrape," Issei shuffled uncomfortably under the blond's gaze. "Said it was a blessing from god- ow! Gah, I'm still getting used to that. Anyway, it's a Sacred Gear, right? Like mine?"

"Probably," Kiba said absentmindedly, seeming lost in thought with a deep frown. "But healing Sacred Gears are rare. As in 'only a few every generation' rare. For the church to bring one to Kuoh, and with the Fallen in town..." Kiba trailed off in thought, and this time, Issei's shuffling was for an entirely different reason.

Would you die for me?

A phantom pain lanced through his chest even though the wound had healed days ago.

"Anyway," Kiba shook himself out of his thoughts. "I'll tell Rias about this later. For now, you need to be aware that just because someone from the church seems nice doesn't mean they are. You only spent a bit of time with her. Asia could have been faking it, trying to get you to lower your guard."

"But... aren't nuns supposed to be nice?" Issei tried to dredge up what little he knew of Christianity.

Most of his exposure to nuns came from porn.

While Issei wasn't the brightest, even he knew porn was not reality, so he delved back to his childhood. His friend had been Christian, but most of the lessons and lectures had flown over his head in favour of playing games. He remembered some lessons about the bible and stuff, but it had never seemed important.

When would you need to use biblical knowledge in daily life if you didn't believe it?

"It is not as simple as that," Kiba explained patiently. "Not all devils are bad. There are some bad apples, and you must be careful when dealing with most pure-blood devils, but some, like Buchou, are kind. The church are not the good guys either." Something in the Knight's voice caused Issei to flinch. "They've done terrible things. Everyone knows about the crusades and witch hunts, but they've gotten away with much worse in the supernatural world that's never taught in school."

Issei was sure Asia wasn't like that. Something about the girl, a vulnerable nativity, convinced Issei that the blonde nun wouldn't hurt anyone.

But Kiba had never met her, and Issei didn't know enough about the subject to argue the point.

On top of that, Kiba was trying to help Issei, to teach him about this world he had been thrown into as he had been doing all week.

It had been Kiba who met him the day after his reincarnation. Issei had been searching desperately for proof that Yuuma had been real, and Kiba brought him to Buchou, who explained things.

Now Issei Hyoudou, one of the perverted trio, was part of the famous Occult Research Club and working on the basics of being a devil to become a High-class devil and gain a peerage.

Issei now had a viable path to becoming a Harem King!

And the other boy in the club had been the most helpful of his new companions so far. Kiba spent time guiding his fellow second year, answering his questions, and helping him try to practice with his Sacred Gear.

It had been Kiba who helped the pervert teleport to his first contract and waited outside while Issei tried, unsuccessfully, to make his first deal.

When Issei had asked why the boy was doing all this, Kiba had given that damn handsome smile, shrugged his shoulders, and said something about 'getting to know a new comrade' and a few light mumbles under his breath.

Issei appreciated the sentiment, even if he didn't know what 'weights' had to do with anything.

Issei would have also preferred it if Himejima-sempai or Buchou guided him. They had magnificent oppai. But they seemed super busy, so he didn't hold it against them.

Koneko-chan was super cute too, but she didn't seem to do much. And she was brutal in calling him out.

Despite being a Damn Handsome, Issei could grudgingly say he was coming to like Kiba.

So he followed the blond when he asked Issei if he had any free time.

Since he didn't know how to argue about Asia, Issei instead asked the question that had been bugging him for a while.

"Where are we going?"

"I'm going to introduce you to Senpai," Kiba said, restarting his walk.

"Senpai?"

"Eren Yeager. He isn't actually a student. I just call him that. It's a bit complicated," the blond gave an awkward smile. "Think of him as our club's advisor and friend. We go to him for advice, talk, or spend a relaxing afternoon."

"A devil therapist?" Issei asked, surprised such a thing existed.

"No, Eren is human. There are devil therapists, but he isn't one. He doesn't even know about the supernatural, so don't bring it up," Kiba gave Issei a look that had the pervert nodding quickly.

"If he's normal... what advice can he give?" Issei struggled to slot this new piece of information into the puzzle that was his new life.

So much was happening so fast over the last few days.

His first girlfriend was a fallen angel who killed him on their first date.

Devils were real, and he was now one.

He had power now, some sort of secret power-up like in Dragon Ball.

The church and all its members, including the cute girl he helped, might try to kill him.

And now he found out devils went to regular humans for advice?

"You'd be surprised," Kiba's smile tightened slightly. "Eren's been through a lot. Even if you don't follow what he says, he gives us a unique perspective to understanding our problems."

"I don't know," Issei hesitated. "Most of my questions are about being a devil. I don't think he can help."

"You don't have to ask him anything," Kiba said with a pat on Issei's shoulder. "Koneko doesn't. Most of the time they're together, they're just napping and not talking. As I said, he's a friend. I just figured I'd introduce you now. Better this way than if you stumble on him by accident. The last time we surprised him... well, better he knows you just in case."

"So he goes to Kuoh University?" Issei asked, starting to get curious as they neared the halfway point between the two institutions.

And jealous.

Napping with Koneko-chan! The lucky bastard!

Issei bet he was another Damn Handsome. All the people he had met these days were either beautiful or handsome.

Issei was sure being related to the supernatural made someone at least an eight on the hotness scale.

"He's old enough but isn't currently in school," Kiba hedged. "He is still learning Japanese and isn't... traditionally educated. As I said, he's had an interesting life. If you want, I'll tell you more later, but here we are."

As they turned a corner on the path through the wooded park, Issei saw where Kiba had been leading him. It was a small clearing in the dense foliage of the trees, allowing the spring sky to shine down on a bench and its occupant.

The bench was plain and boring, consisting of wooden planks held together by iron bands. The luxurious extra amenities around it highlighted the commonness of the bench.

A canopy with a flat, retractable solar panelled roof had been set up to provide shade and give power to what looked like a small heater below the bench and a... mini-fridge? Behind the setup, a few hammocks had been strung between the trees.

It looked less like a bench in a park and more like some sort of long-term camping area set up by rich people.

But the occupant on the seat held Issei's focus more than the amenities around it.

It was an older boy, sleeping with his back reclined against the bench, a cane lying across his lap.

His facial features were obscured by thick bandages wrapping around the top half of his head. Long, dark brown hair fell to his shoulder. He wasn't wearing the Kuoh uniform but regular clothes that hung lightly on a skinny frame to be healthy.

He didn't look like a Damn Handsome like Issei had feared, but like a nursing patient who escaped the institution.

"Senpai!" Kiba called to the sleeping boy as they approached. He wasn't shouting, but his voice carried, and the blind boy woke with a start, hands tightening on his cane.

"Yuuto?" Eren asked, relaxing slightly and facing their general direction. "Who's with you? I don't recognize those footsteps."

"This is Hyoudou Issei," Kiba introduced as he gestured to Eren. "Issei, this is Yeager Eren."

"Please to meet you, senpai," Issei said with a formal bow. Then he froze and stood up straight again, feeling very foolish.

"I'm not your senpai," Eren said simply, his Japanese halting and accented but understandable. Issei noted that his voice had no particular inflection, as if he had no emotions. "Call me Eren."

"Yes, sen- Eren," Issei nodded, not used to the habit of using first names right away, but Asia had been like that too, so it wasn't entirely new.

"Issei is the newest member of our club," Kiba explained lightly as he took a seat on the bench. There wasn't a lot of room left, so Issei just stood there awkwardly rather than crowd the pair, wondering what to do with himself. "I'm sure Rias' told you all about him."

"She did spend a few hours bragging about him, yes," Eren somehow made his voice even more deadpan, but Issei couldn't help but puff his chest out in pride.

"Really?" He asked, eager to know what Buchou had told the older boy about him. He hadn't gotten a lot of time to spend with his King, even if he would love to. She was seriously hot. "What did she say?"

"That you are honest, cheerful, and have a lot of potential," Eren answered with a shrug. Issei stood taller, pride filling his chest. "Also, you are a massive pervert, want a harem, and have much to learn."

Issei wilted slightly. He wasn't embarrassed about being a pervert or his dream, but to hear it put so bluntly was kind of insulting.

Though he did agree, he had a lot to learn.

"That about sums him up," Kiba nodded with a chuckle that had Issei shooting him a glare.

He took back all the good things he had thought about the blond earlier. Raijuus should explode!

"Rias also said you got hurt recently," Eren continued.

"Ah," Issei looked to Kiba for advice on what to say, not knowing what Buchou told the young man. The blond gave a shrug. "Yes. But Buchou helped me."

"Rias said as much," Eren nodded but with a frown. "I prefer to verify things than trust one side of a story. Even if it comes from friends." Kiba's polite smile widened at Eren's words, though Issei didn't know why. "But you are alright now? Happy with your situation?"

Again, his words were halting and slow, but Issei got the gist.

Would you die for me?

"Yes!" Issei declared passionately. "I am super happy. Buchou is great and so is Himejima-sempai. Koneko-chan might have small oppai and be a little mean, but she's the school mascot and super cute. Kiba's alright, I guess, for being a Damn Handsome."

There was a pause as Eren tilted his head.

"I only understood part of that," the blind boy admitted, speaking in English to Kiba. "What does 'oppai' mean? And 'kuso?'"

"Oppai means breasts," Kiba answered without a hint of shame. "'Kuso' is a swear, though not a serious one. The best translation is 'damn.' I am not surprised you didn't learn them, given your teacher. Feel free to speak English. Issei will understand you."

"Sorry," Issei said with another bow of apology. Then he was embarrassed again since Eren couldn't see it. "I answered without thinking."

It was still hard to control Language. With Asia, it was easy since she only spoke Italian to him and one or two words of Japanese. Still, Eren had been trying to talk in Issei's native tongue with some limited success, so he had responded instinctively.

"It's fine," Eren said with a sigh. "I need the practice. But I understood enough. At least you aren't being forced into anything."

"It was a surprise to be invited," Issei admitted hesitantly, wondering what was okay to say and what wasn't. "And I am still getting used to everything. It's new, confusing, and scary. But I am happy Buchou rescued me."

"Rescued?" Eren said with a tilt of his head, and Issei winced at the slip.

"Rias found him pretty hurt," Kiba hurried to explain. "He could have died if she didn't get there in time. Thankfully, she got him to a hospital in time."

"From what she told me, she felt like it was her fault," Eren pointed out. "Did she hit you with her car? That happens a lot in Japanese schools, as I understand it."

Kiba chuckled, but Issei looked confused at the pair.

Buchou had apologized that she hadn't been paying more attention to the Fallen, but Issei didn't really understand how it had been her fault. It was Yuu-... Would you die for me?... Raynare's fault.

"Buchou helps him learn Japanese by reading Light Novels and Manga to him," Kiba explained to Issei before returning to Eren. "Despite what she tells you, a real school in Japan has very little in common with those."

Issei didn't know about that.

He was now part of a school club filled with devils after becoming one after his first girlfriend killed him. That sounded like a light novel to him.

He hoped it was an ecchi harem novel or a hentai rather than in the horror genre.

"I didn't know Buchou read manga," Issei said. "What does she like?"

"A bit of everything," Kiba shrugged.

"Rias is a massive japanophile. Has been since she was a child."

It was not Eren who spoke but a feminine voice coming from behind Issei that made him jump in surprise.

Whirling around, he noticed that Souna Shitori, the student council president, had somehow managed to sneak up on him. The other two boys didn't seem surprised.

"Kaichou," Kiba greeted as he stood from the bench. Issei echoed him a moment later.

"Souna," Eren nodded at her. "You're later than usual."

"I have a new member in the council," she apologized without actually apologizing. "He needed guidance with his tasks. Yuuto, I see you are introducing Hyoudou to Eren. Good initiative. Will you two be joining the lesson?"

"I am afraid I have more to help Issei with. I just wanted to let them meet, so I will leave you two alone," Kiba said. "Come on, Issei, let's head back to the club. I'll talk to you later, Eren."

"Very well," the girl nodded. "Let Rias know we will do formal introductions between our new members at a later point once they are both settled in."

Kiba gave a polite bow and headed back to the club room.

Issei, still surprised by the sudden and unexplained appearance of the older girl, gave a hurried goodbye to Eren and a bow to Souna before hurrying to follow Kiba.

"She goes by Souna Shitori in Japan, but her real name is Sona Sitri," Kiba said once they were far away. "She's the other devil King in Kuoh, and the Student Council is her peerage. She and Buchou are childhood friends and rivals. She rules the school by day and Buchou by night."

"Are there any more devils in Kuoh?" Issei couldn't help but ask, worried now.

"A few, but none that you need to worry about," Kiba patted him on the back. "Both of them are here to gain some independence and fill out their Peerage, so the territory is pretty much theirs until they finish their studies."

"What was she doing with Eren?"

"Teaching," Kiba said with a smile. "She was the one who first met Senpai and started tutoring him in Japanese. Don't say anything about it to her, but we are all pretty sure she has a crush on him."

"That lucky bastard!" Issei shook his fist at the sky. "A beauty like that! Gah! I am so jealous."

"Don't ever say that again," Kiba cautioned, and Issei froze at the gravity in his voice. "You shouldn't be blindly jealous of people without knowing what they went through. And definitely don't say anything like that about Eren around the others."

"Sorry," Issei said softly, chastised.

"It's fine. You didn't know," the blond sighed. "It's no secret, but Eren is sick and getting worse. He only has about a year to live."

"What?" Issei asked, shocked. "Can't Buchou heal him like she did me?"

"It's not that simple," Kiba sighed regretfully. "The short answer is that neither Sona nor Rias can make him a Peerage member at the moment. Apart from Evil Pieces, we devils have very few healing abilities. We've been looking for a cure or way to heal him for over a year now, but no luck."

"Damn, that sucks," Issei cursed. He was jealous, sure, but he didn't want people to actually die. "Do you think Asia could heal him?"

"Maybe," Kiba hedged. "I actually wanted to stay longer and let you get to know each other, but I need to talk to Buchou about that, and she'll want to hear from your perspective. As I said, healing gears are very rare. And the church is extremely protective of them. A nun healing someone on behalf of a devil? That is extremely unlikely."

"She'd do it," Issei said instantly. "She's nice like that."

Kiba didn't say anything but didn't look convinced by Issei's words.

Still, the quick introduction and departure only gave the new Rook more questions about the boy on the bench.


A big thanks to my beta: Old Man of the Mountain/Darklord331

Fun fact: before writing DxD, Ishibumi wrote horror. It comes through with the sometimes much darker tones of the story despite it being ecchi fun.

Speaking of, writing Issei is fun. While I am not so much of him as a protagonist, as a character alone, he is a breath of fresh air. He is self-aware to a degree that most don't give him credit for. A considerable portion of the reason people dislike him is less because of his character and more because he is, unfortunately, trapped in a light novel that needs to keep things PG. I think the industry really missed out on a deep exploration of the harem genre, sexual dynamics, and societal examinations of how we contextualize 'love.'

Then again, Oppai makes brain go BRRRRRR.

This story is not about either of those two subjects. Like all the characters I choose to focus on, Issei will have his time in the sun. I do want to clarify that this unfortunately means other characters will not get much attention. I will only focus on specific characters unless I want this story to go on for 25 light novels. Unfortunately, Sona's peerage, some major cannon characters, and even some of Rias' peerage will have to wait for another fic if I decide to write one.

Either way, I hope you continue to join me on the bench.