Chapter 1098: Acceptance

Laying back with his hands behind his head, Vahn was enjoying the peaceful afterglow of his time together with Gray and Artoria as the two girls used his biceps as pillows. He could feel their warm breath tickling his face and neck as their own bodies were still awash in a long, seemingly never-ending climax. Fortunately, it was only a gentle and persistent amount of pleasure as, nearing the four-hour mark, Gray’s body was no longer able to keep up with her own excitement, causing her insides to become somewhat dry and on the verge of chaffing. Though Artoria could have kept going for much longer, due to the nature of her body converting his mana into everything she needed to continue functioning, he decided it would have been ‘unfair’ to Gray if he suddenly left her alone this far into things…

As they used his arms as a pillow, Artoria and Gray could see each other’s faces across Vahn’s body, a mutual understanding now present as the looked into each others’ eyes. Though things had started off relatively slow and tame, that only lasted until the first time Gray ‘squirted’ under Vahn’s precision attacks. After that, Gray was made to lay atop Artoria’s body and, even though the latter refused to kiss her lips until the very end, it didn’t stop the two from becoming intimately familiar with each other’s bodies as time passed. Gray ended up peppering her distant Ancestor with kisses around her neck and chest as Vahn would slightly adjust their bodies and guide them to greater heights. By the time the seemingly endless session had come to an end, they had swapped positions several times but, in each instance, Gray and Artoria were almost always able to see the other person’s face. They were able to see how the other person reacted which, in their case, was almost like looking into a trick mirror. This greatly amplified their experience and, though it didn’t necessarily bring them as close as Vahn intended, both girls now had a greater understanding and appreciation for each other than before…

With the trembling in their bodies slowly ebbing, Vahn looked toward Gray with a smile, asking, “Are you feeling better…?” Since Gray had been pushing herself before they started, Vahn wanted her to be able to reflect on how she currently felt compared to then. Her reaction hadn’t been as extreme as other docile girls, but her switch had certainly been flipped early on. Vahn almost felt like he had been bullying Artoria a bit as, for the first hour or so, Gray kept trying to kiss her lips with little to no success. She seemed to equate kissing to be even more intimate than having sex, causing Vahn to spend the better half of their time together giving Artoria plenty of deep and passionate kisses. The fact she didn’t resist his attempts made it clear that she, at the very least, had already started to truly accept him into her heart…

In response to Vahn’s question, Gray released a hot sigh as she began to slowly move her hand around his chest, answering, “It was…far beyond my expectations. I never knew an orgasm could go on for so long…it almost feels like what I had experienced in the past wasn’t even sex…haaaaa…” Even if it might be awkward to talk about past sexual experiences, especially while her body was still awash in a persistent afterglow, Gray felt a lot more comfortable around Vahn right now. She didn’t feel as if he would judge her for anything, almost like she could pour herself out before him without having to worry about him disdaining her in the slightest. As if to emphasize this point, Vahn issued a lighthearted chuckle before saying, “I would almost feel bad for your past partners if not for the fact they had given you some strange ideas…Gray, never let people pressure you one-sidedly in the pursuit of their own desires…” To punctuate his words, Vahn kissed the top of Gray’s head, causing her to feel fluttery and mildly apologetic…

As if Vahn was playing the part of an impromptu therapist, Gray curled herself up at his side before explaining, “I was younger and felt a little lonely back then…there was a boy, a fellow student who had helped me a lot in the past. I always knew he liked me so….after we both managed to survive a dangerous mission, things just got out of control. I think things would have gone better if we took things slowly, but I underestimated his affections, misconstruing love with ‘obsession’…we haven’t talked much in the last few years and I’ve only had been with two other men since then…” Though she almost went into details about her other partners as well, Gray felt it would be unfair to them since Vahn might behave differently if he knew the truth.

Since Gray’s past lovers were inconsequential, unless they ended up coming after him in the future, Vahn didn’t mind how open she was being. If he was the kind of person that only accepted virgins as women worthy of love, more than half of his relationships would have never worked. After all, Nobu, Artoria, Lakshmibai, and even Scáthach were all ‘experienced’ women. Though Artoria hadn’t given birth herself, all four women actually had former spouses, lovers, and even children. If he ever tried to pass judgment against them, when he himself had slept with dozens of women, siring numerous children in the process, he would have been a massive hypocrite…

Understanding that Gray had been laying herself bare before him, Vahn pulled both her and Artoria closer to him, gently embracing the two girls as he whispered, “The past is important, but only when we use it to build a better future…there is nothing wrong with seeking happiness…” Though he knew these types of words were a bit ‘unfair’ against the two, Vahn had no qualms about making good on his promise of trying to help them find happiness. He could tell they both had a lot of deeply rooted issues but, with upwards of sixty years to prepare for Angra Mainyu, he had plenty of time to help them work through it.

Getting dressed and moving on from the atmosphere that had been built up was always one of the more awkward moments as, at times, it was very difficult to leave behind the security and warmth of a post-sex room. After calming down, Gray had started acting bashfully once again and, even though Vahn didn’t gawk as she was getting dressed, she had nearly fallen over after trying to slip on her panties. She was still a bit unstable on her feet and, even though Vahn had helped wipe down her body and provided a change of clothes for her, Gray was still struggling a bit. Fortunately, Artoria had quickly moved to prevent her fall, giving Vahn the urge to give her a thumbs-up. She might not be aware of the role she now played in Gray’s life, but Vahn was very aware of Artoria’s significance from Gray’s perspective…

Though he didn’t know all that much about Gray, Vahn could tell that she was a woman who had been starved for ‘meaningful’ interactions with other humans. Based on how she interacted with Lord El-Melloi II and Flat, two of the people she was closest to, it was easy to imagine she didn’t have many people she could talk to outside of ‘work’. Vahn even suspected that most of Gray’s past ‘experiences’ had been with the few men she was close to in her life as, with her personality, it was highly unlikely she would trust a stranger. Though this wasn’t inherently a bad thing, the fact that Gray was starved for affection meant most of her relationships would be toxic. She didn’t know how to ‘take’ from people, so she could only give herself to whoever she decided to let into her heart. It was plain to see that Gray had a service-oriented mentality that meant, even if the other party was truly fond of her, they would inadvertently take advantage of her nature without showing great care…

It was because of reasons like this that Vahn felt antagonistic towards Lord El-Melloi II as, no matter how he looked at it, the middle-aged Magus was the primary reason why Gray had never grown past her trauma. Because of his own trauma, Lord El-Melloi II forced Gray into a situation where it became ‘normal’ for her to hide her face away and isolate herself from others. At the same time, due to her need for affection and meaningful human interaction, Gray had likely spent the years following Lord El-Melloi II’s ‘rescuing’ of her trying to pay him back for a debt she never owed. Since he had his own trauma to deal with, Lord El-Melloi II likely allowed Gray to do whatever she wanted, reinforcing an inherently negative behavior until it became second-nature to her. He could even see guilt in Lord El-Melloi II’s eyes whenever he looked towards Gray, hinting that something ‘more’ had happened between them at some point, something Vahn imagined would cause him to blow his top when he finally learned the truth…

When Gray had finally finished getting dressed, she calmed down enough that a small smile adorned her face as she said, “All of this has helped me make up my mind…I will follow Lord El-Melloi II and Rin back to London. When she finishes closing out her accounts and wrapping up her duties, I will return with Rin and Sakura to help you prepare for the emergence of Angra Mainyu…is that okay?” Though she actually wanted to stay with Vahn and Artoria starting now, Gray felt she still owed a debt to the Mentor she had served under for the last twelve years. She was actually a little afraid that he would be angry at her for ‘betraying’ him but, taking Vahn’s and Artoria’s words to heart, Gray felt like she needed to seek her own happiness instead of waiting for it to find her…

Since this was within his expectations, Vahn nodded his head in understanding before causing Gray to fluster when he suddenly hugged her. For well over a minute, he just held her in his arms without kissing or allowing his hands to wander. Her body began to gradually relax as a result, the tension slowly draining away until she had become almost completely calm. It was only at this point that Vahn softly stated, ‘If that is what you want, Gray…we will always be here for you…” Vahn made sure to say ‘we’ as, in the future, he intended to have Gray open up to most of the Servants and people who would be working under the banner of his organization. He didn’t want her to start dedicating herself to him as, even if he treated her well, this would only be another toxic relationship. Vahn wanted Gray to be able to grow as a person through interacting with other powerful women, to the point that she could confidently interact with others instead of hiding herself away from the world…

In response to Vahn’s words, Gray just uttered a silent ‘Nn’ as she rested her head against his chest and listened to his steady heartbeat. She had never been simply ‘held’ like this before, even when she was just a little girl, so Gray was enjoying the moment as much as she could. Vahn’s body was extremely warm and, with their difference in size, it felt like he could easily protect her from anything that would try to harm her. This made Gray just want to stay wrapped in his embrace without having to worry about anything else but, like all good things, Vahn’s arms began to slack before he released her waist. This caused Gray to feel that the room was somewhat cold, even though it was a rather steamy 31 degrees Celcius after their long session of lovemaking…

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After separating from Gray and Artoria, who both went to inform everyone outside that it was his birthday, Vahn made the rounds to visit Nobunaga and Lakshmibai. He had been able to sense that both girls were waiting rather patiently and, not wanting to disappoint, Vahn made sure to spend plenty of time with both of them before preparing to return to the outside world. Nobunaga had been somewhat annoyed with him after everything that had happened recently so Vahn had to tend to her quite a bit before she was satisfied. As for Lakshmibai, she was an easy girl to deal with since she would quickly get drunk off the pleasure before completely immersing herself into things. Her stamina was a bit lacking, as she pushed herself quite a bit, but Vahn felt like she would become a monster in the bedroom when she gained a bit more experience…

By the time Vahn had left the Sub-Space Orb, only two and a half hours had passed in the real world, meaning it wasn’t even time for lunch. This didn’t mean the kitchen was empty, however, as Vahn could sense Circe happily moving about while Rin and Sakura seemed to be baking a cake for him. This brought a smile to his face while, at his side, Nobunaga stretched her now matured body before giving him a surprise kiss on the cheek and saying, “If that girl wants to do anything ‘special’ for your birthday, you had better not leave me out. I’m still pissed off that you ended the war without even relying on me so don’t expect me to just sit by as you galavant around with other women. You can’t get rid of me so easily after the crap you’ve pulled…”

Though Nobunaga had originally been prepared to return to the Throne of Heroes after the Holy Grail War had come to an end, that sentiment had changed with the passage of time. Even before the matter of Angra Mainyu had been brought to light, she had been intending to talk with Vahn about joining him on his ‘mission’ to essentially conquer the world. Since she hadn’t been able to help him much during the war itself, Nobunaga wanted to at least prove her worth by helping him achieve his dreams in the present. At the same time, though she would never admit it, Nobunaga felt melancholic whenever she thought about not only separating from him, but forgetting their time together. After experiencing his memories and getting to know Vahn’s nature, Nobunaga simply couldn’t let him go so easily…

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Watching Nobunaga disappear into motes of magical light, Vahn couldn’t prevent himself from smiling as, even with troublesome matters like Akasha and Alaya, he knew he lived a blessed life. Setting aside his inhibitions and just moving forward was a very fulfilling way to live and, though there were bound to be issues later on, Vahn accepted that he would simply have to deal with them when the time came. He had no idea how many years it would take him to return home as, even with sixty years to prepare, Vahn couldn’t even guarantee he would be able to contend against Angra Mainyu and his forces…

The difference between introductory Tier 4 and peak Tier 4 was a massive gulf that could take decades to attain while reaching Tier 5 was something he couldn’t even comprehend fully. Going even further beyond that, reaching the peak of Tier 5, seemed like a distant goal that could take him centuries, even if he made a concerted effort to reach it. Since this wasn’t even a fraction of the power he would need to link the Records, Vahn knew the journey ahead was far too long to hold himself back the entire time. The primary difference between the Nasuverse and Danmachi was that, regardless of the number of women he ended up sleeping with, Vahn never intended to have any committed relationships. The matter with Rin and Sakura was a bit of an exception, but the rest of Vahn’s relationships would be in an ‘open’ state, even if he never directly clarified that. If any of the women, including his Servants, decided they no longer desired a physical relationship with him, Vahn wouldn’t pressure them into it.

Though this ‘awareness’ made him feel a little scummy, Vahn intended to make any woman he was with fully aware of the fact he had a family waiting for him in a world impossibly far away. He wouldn’t mind staying with them for even hundreds of years, but there would inevitably come a time when he would need to leave this world. Though he was already beginning to think about linking this Record as well, it was important to Vahn that they knew what they were getting into. Even if he one day ended up marrying or impregnating some of the girls, that would be predicated on the fact that it was something they genuinely wanted. So long as they understood that his main priority was always becoming strong enough to one day return home, Vahn was quickly opening up to the idea of having a second life within the Nasuverse. If he had to spend hundreds of years passing through various timelines, it would be exceptionally lonely if he didn’t have emotional anchors, plural, to keep him grounded…

With that in mind, it wasn’t long before Vahn found himself in the rather lively kitchen where Circe was actually cooking ‘normally’ while Rin guided Sakura, complete with a frilly apron, through the process of mixing cake batter. Seeing that the latter now had her hair done up in tiny pigtails, each tied with small ribbons, Vahn couldn’t help smile affectionately as he leaned against the frame of the door. Though Sakura might not be his own flesh and blood, seeing the girl seriously stirring up a bowl of cake batter, even though she was making a mess in the process, warmed his heart a great deal. When she finally noticed his presence and shouted, “Otou-sama, you can’t peek…!”, Vahn felt like he had taken critical damage as he laughed in a light-hearted manner before waving as he left them to their own devices…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Sex can be therapeutic, so long as that isn’t the intent from the start xD…’,’For real though, Lord El-Melloi II is a bit of a c***’,’Vahn might be good at taming women, but he is a big softy when it comes to children…’)

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