From the moment she nearly dropped the ring, Hephaestus’s mind had already blanked. When Vahn caught it through the air, she felt a powerful sense of relief and then, when he finally removed her glove and put it on her finger, Hephaestus felt completely overwhelmed. She had already been covering her mouth with her free hand and there were tears welling up in her eyes as she lost strength in her legs. Before she hit the ground, Vahn had caught her in his arms and held her firmly against his chest. For several minutes after that, the only thing Hephaestus could do was cry as Vahn grimaced slightly after hearing notifications in his head.
//[Hearts Desire: Hephaestus] fulfilled. Extra parameter ‘Love’ unlocked.//[Hephaestus]: Love 9,418(Eternal Love)
//Bond established with [Hephaestus]//
//Optional Quest Triggered//[Quest: Origin of Heroes]
Objective: Impregnate Hephaestus (0). Ensure a safe delivery
Rewards: 1,000,000 OP, 1x [Guardian:(Nameless)], 1x [Heroic Tale]
Failure Condition(s): Death, Hephaestus’s Death, (Nameless) Child’s Death
Penalty: 9,418 Karma (0), Lose ‘eternal flame’, Lose [Heart of the Eternal Flame]
Though Vahn was very interested in the notification and even shocked at the unexpected quest, he still couldn’t help but internally rebuke the system for its lack of tact. The atmosphere had become incredibly emotional and even Ryuu had slightly misty eyes, much less the other girls in the room…minus Fenrir. In fact, Fenrir seemed to be getting progressively more frustrated as her eyes glowed red and she was gripped her skirt and tearing small holes in it.
Unable to contain herself, Fenrir shouted, “Vahn bully Hephaestus!?” No bully, bad!” As the room was relatively silent, disregarding the sound of sobs, Fenrir’s words resonated loudly within the foyer. Hephaestus, who had been overwhelmed with emotions for the last few minutes, seemed to snap back to her sense as she looked over at the scarlet-eyed wolf-girl. Using Vahn as support, she gave him a kiss, unlike anything Vahn had experienced previously. He didn’t know if it was because of the emotions they shared, but Vahn felt like he was kissing Hephaestus for the first time and it caused an explosion in his mind as his emotions began to well up in his chest.
Since it wasn’t the first time she had seen Vahn kiss someone, Fenrir understood she had made a mistake so she trotted over to Milan and hugged her waist to hide her embarrassment. Since she was often playing with Tina, Milan was very accustomed to Fenrir’s behavior and began consoling her in the same manner as she would her own daughter. She picked up Fenrir’s body, even though they weren’t dissimilar in size and carried her into the other room with Tina trailing close behind. Along the way, she would look over toward Vahn and Hephaestus with an expression that was a mix between happiness and concern.
Ryuu wasn’t unaccustomed to Vahn’s affectionate behavior with some of the girls in the network, but it was the first time she had seen him so passionate and emotional as he gently held Hephaestus in his embrace. Even though it seemed more reserved than normal, even Ryuu could feel the tensions between them increasing and became progressively more disconcerted as an observer. She initially came here out of concern for Vahn, but now Ryuu felt like she had inadvertently stepped into an inviolable space.
The most affected the entire situation, for better or worse, was Hestia. She felt her emotions doing summersaults in her body as she was both incredibly excited for her best friend, but also terrified about the future. She knew Vahn and Hephaestus would be together, but she hadn’t expected it to happen so soon. After they got together, Hestia knew she would have a better chance at approaching Vahn as well, but that just made her more nervous. Though she hadn’t realized it previously, she was actually very reliant on the wall that was Vahn’s promise with Hephaestus.
After a few minutes, Hephaestus and Vahn finally their lips and stared into each other’s eyes. Because he had grown a bit in the last few weeks, Vahn was now at the same height as Hephaestus, which was 165cm. Since he knew his body changed depending on his mentality, Vahn felt like things had perfectly aligned so that he stood, not only spiritually, but physically on the same level as Hephaestus. At this moment, Vahn felt so many unexplainable emotions as he stared into her hazy red eyes and could feel his chest shaking anxiously even through [Will of the Emperor].
Hephaestus had the most loving expression he had ever seen on her face as she spoke, almost in a whimper, “I…I love you…so so much…Vahn.” As she spoke, Vahn could feel Hephaestus’s body shaking and didn’t know what else to do other than hold her close and comfort her. Because of their bond, not just through the eternal flame, Vahn could also feel all of Hephaestus’s emotions as well as her aura intertwined with his body. Not only was she overwhelmed by her own emotions, but she was subtly influencing him as well and their feelings continued to compound on each other.
After several more minutes, and a few short, passionate, kisses, Hephaestus remembered there were other people present and looked through glossy eyes at the goddess who was her best friend. For various reasons, Hestia had also been crying and the two locked eyes with each other as Hephaestus reached out her left hand and muttered, “Hestia…” Before parting, Hephaestus turned to Vahn and gave him another kiss while pressing her face strongly against the side of his head. She said in a low voice intended only for him, “I have to go back…I’ll clear up my schedule…please come to me tomorrow…”
Vahn felt a powerful anxiety seize his body as he held Hephaestus’s waist firmly and refused to let her got to Hestia. With a shaky voice, Vahn asked, “Why don’t we go somewhere now…I’m scared something might happen.” As he spoke, Vahn could feel Hephaestus shaking more powerfully in his arms as she groaned, “Not here…not here, I can’t…” Her words caused Vahn to suddenly recall all of the presences around them, each one belonging to a person that had shown up to comfort him. He also hadn’t expected Hephaestus to show up while he was stuck in his earlier melancholy, and now they were in a somewhat awkward situation. Imagining having to ask everyone to give them privacy…Vahn felt incredibly apologetic and knew Hephaestus was making the correct decision.
After hugging her closely for a short while longer, Vahn let go of Hephaestus and it felt like he was losing a part of himself as she walked over to Hestia’s side and the two goddesses began hugging each other. Even though he was surrounded by three people that he cared about, Vahn suddenly felt very lonely. As if she realized it, and she did through their link, Hephaestus peeked at Vahn with a sad expression on her face as if she too feared their parting. Silence reigned in the atmosphere for several seconds before Hephaestus looked toward Ryuu, who had been standing at the side like a statue for quite a while.
Since Ryuu had been paying attention to the scenes playing out, she also saw Hephaestus look over at her through hazy eyes. Though she didn’t understand immediately, when Hephaestus inclined her head slightly toward Vahn, Ryuu knew her intentions. She wasn’t able to say it herself, so Hephaestus wanted Ryuu to take Vahn away so they could both calm down. The longer they were near each other right now, the more their feelings would pile on top of each other.
Suddenly, Ryuu felt like there was a heavy pressure on her body as she mechanically walked over toward Vahn and showed, what she thought to be, an awkward smile. From Vahn’s perspective, she looked the same as normal but with her brows twitching slightly. Though he was very reluctant to leave Hephaestus right now, Vahn couldn’t imagine turning Ryuu away as she reached out her hand hesitantly toward his. With his body still shaking a bit, Vahn released a sigh through his nose before giving a legitimately awkward smile to Ryuu as he accepted her outstretched hand.
Without saying anything else, Ryuu gently guided him toward the study where Milan, Tina, and Fenrir were waiting. Hephaestus stayed back with Hestia as the two goddesses watched Vahn’s departing figure with powerful emotions in their eyes. When he had finally gone through the door, and it closed behind him, Hephaestus once again hugged Hestia very powerfully and said, “Hestia, I’m so scared, it feels like my heart is going to burst. Even though..even though…” Hephaestus was trying to comment about how it wasn’t her first time with a man, but she couldn’t consider Vahn in the same line as any god she had ever associated with.
Gently patting Hephaestus’s back, Hestia had a comforting smile on her face as her blue eyes glimmered with pond-like reflections. She whispered, “It’s okay, it’s okay…come, let’s go rest. When you calm down, everything will be better…” Afterward, Hestia led Hephaestus to one of the larger rooms located near the master bedroom where she typically slept with Vahn and Fenrir. Tonight, Hestia would leave Vahn to others as she comforted her best friend and helped console her anxious heart. Hestia was also hoping that, through giving Hephaestus courage, she would also be able to find her own.
The rest of the evening was relatively quiet even when Vahn had eaten dinner with Ryuu, Milan, Tina, and Fenrir. Even now, Vahn could feel a bit of the anxiety coming from Hephaestus and he would periodically gaze up through the roof where he could see the two auras of Hestia and Hephaestus in one of the guest rooms. The fact that she was still so close to him made Vahn feel a bit of anxiety as well, but he was doing his best to suppress his emotions with a subtle activation of [Will of the Emperor]. This also helped ease a bit of the melancholy and loneliness he had been feeling as he sat quietly on the sofa after dinner and cuddled with Tina and Fenrir.
When it finally came time to take a bath and prepare for bed, Vahn walked lazily into the men’s changing room and sat down on one of the wooden benches silently while in deep contemplation. Since there had been several people coming by to stay in the past few weeks, Fenrir had grown accustomed to taking baths with the other girls. Though they would still bathe together when it was just the three of them, Vahn primarily bathed alone these days.
Sensing a presence approaching, Vahn spoke out without looking toward the source and said, “I’m fine Ryuu…you don’t have to push yourself for me.” Hearing his words, Ryuu paused for a few seconds before continuing into the changing room regardless. Without asking permission, Ryuu stopped at Vahn’s back for a while before leaning down and loosely cradling his neck. Since it was unlike her normal behavior, Vahn released a sad sigh and said, “Am I really so pathetic…even when I feel like I need to be alone…I still get happy when someone hugs me. Even though I want to go to Hephaestus…even though I’m sad about Eva…even though…”
Though his words started off smoothly, Vahn began to get choked up toward the end because he felt like he was making excuses. Since he could see her aura and understood her affections, Vahn knew Ryuu wasn’t doing anything she didn’t want to do. The fact that she was comforting him made Vahn happy, but it also made him feel terrible at the same time. He felt so many conflicting emotions inside his heart right now and just want to relieve them somehow.
Ryuu held Vahn’s body and leaned a bit of her weight against his back as she whispered in a soothing voice, “Shhh, it’s okay Vahn…everything is going to be okay.” Then, as if she were a mother comforting a crying child, Ryuu began to rock Vahn’s body slowly from side-to-side. This made Vahn feel even happier, but it also compounded all of the negative emotions that were welling up inside him. He wanted to break away from her comforting embrace and run up the stairs to where Hephaestus was. After spending so much effort trying to complete his quest, Vahn had suddenly become impatient, almost like a powerful instinct was screaming at him that something was going to happen if he didn’t act now.
Since she could feel the shaking of Vahn’s body increasing, Ryuu felt a pang in her heart and didn’t know how to react. She was trying to comfort him, but now it seemed like she had been making the situation progressively worse. Though she thought about taking more drastic action, Ryuu was also afraid of how Vahn would react since he was acting very uncharacteristically. She just wanted to help him so, after a few seconds, Ryuu asked, “Vahn…please tell me how I can help you.”
As she had placed emphasis on his name, Vahn began to calm down since he could hear the concern in Ryuu’s voice. He wanted to desperately to shout at her to leave him alone, but Vahn knew he would resent himself if he did something so selfish. If he became the type of person that lashed out at the people showing care for him, Vahn wasn’t sure he would be able to live with himself anymore. After a short while, Vahn lowered his head and whispered, “Please don’t leave me alone…”
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘It’s over 9000!!!!’,’Desperation’,’Separation Anxiety x2′)
(A/N: Vahn is very unstable right now, remember that he just temporarily lost Eva and, while he was being comforted, also went through an emotional upheaval when he reunited with Hephaestus. His is suffering separation anxiety after being away from two of the most important people that have ever been in his life, so show the boyo a little sympathy TT___TT. Don’t worry, he gets better soon (UwU)”