"Oh you have got to be kidding me," Creza seethed between her teeth, standing in the front doorway glaring through her glasses at the young man who stood on her doorstep. "If you want a woman to play Mummy with you highly I suggest waiting until you're older." She prepared to shut the door but he stuck his foot in just in time.
"I'm telling you that you are my mother," he insisted for what felt like the hundreth time, shoving a letter in her face.
"I KNOW WHAT IT SAYS AND I'M TELLING YOU IT'S A LIE!" Cereza roared, bending down to make full eye-contact with the bespectacled youth. He said nothing and stood defiant, stoic even. She looked and saw that he must've ridden his bicycle to her residence and likely had no way of returning to wherever the hell he came from. Sighing in exasperation she ushered the boy inside. He was wearing a school uniform and had a rather light duffel bag as well. She snatched the letter and read it over again:
Dear Whoever this May Concern,
I am unable to care for this child as my own and sign over my complete parental rights. I am too young and the world is too dangerous for the both of us. He needs a more loving and nurturing parent than I could ever possibly give him.
"Who the hell would write such a saccharine letter?" she mused out loud.
"You, clearly," the boy shot back, taking his shoes off at the door.
"Who was that, Cereza?" Jeanne's voice rang from the kitchen.
"Some boy claiming that I'm his mummy," Cereza drawled as she rubbed her temples.
"WHAT?!" came a shriek that nearly shook the house. Jeanne stormed out of the kitchen in a flurry of red and white to stand in front of them, arms crossed. She bent down and took a closer look at the boy that had shown up out of nowhere. The boy didn't flinch and instead laughed at the woman's dramatic serious expression. A few moments of silence passed.
"Um...Cereza, the creature looks just like you..." she looked up slowly.
"Are you bloody sure?" She put her face down until she and the boy's were side by side. "Chin up, boy," she chided. The boy obeyed. Jeanne took a step back and raised her eyebrows, completely dumbfounded.
"Cereza...." her voice trailed off, "this boy is definitely your son."
"BUT HOW?!" the witch groaned, nearly spilling her tea.
"Oh come now Cereza, you're no virgin. PLEASE do not make me explain conception," Jeanne carefully balanced her cup and saucer, one leg delicately crossed over the other. She had taken the news far better than her camp sexy friend. The boy sat quietly, taking small sips of his tea. He hadn't said a word since he had gotten there, hoping that this woman who he was 99% sure was his mother would finally accept the news.
"I was sealed away 400 years ago and walked around for at least 20 more, I think I would remember being pregnant," she spat, peering over at the black-haired lad.
"You didn't remember a lot of things for a long time," Jeanne reminded her, "You were, as I remember, 'running on instinct' the entire period. Who's to say you didn't get knocked up during those years?" Cereza rolled her eyes and slunk down deeper into her patio chair, sighing dejectedly.
"Well who the fuck is your father then?" she turned to the boy who still hadn't spoken.
"I was wondering if you could tell me because I have no idea myself," he set his cup on the table and turned to face her. Several names went through her head and then several more. The silence slowly became more awkward as she sat there counting on her fingers and mouthing the names of various people she had slept with.
"You know what, I haven't the foggiest idea who could've fathered you," she clasped her hands together, "All I know is that if you're really my son you probably have some ties to the supernatural and if that's the case I could possibly narrow it down to 2 men, maybe."
"You don't mean---" Jeanne began. Cereza grimaced and nodded. "Cereza, you didn't," her voice was full of warning.
"Who?" the young man was suddenly curious.
"Dante and Virgil, Sons of fucking Sparda," the witch spoke those words with serine and horrified conviction and took off her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose. The boy looked back and forth between the two women, very much so amused by the information that had gathered but tried not to laugh and continued to look perfectly serious. If she really was his mother it would explain oh so much...
Chapter 2: It's in the Blood
A doctor's visit goes about as well as you'd expect!
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It took little convincing on the child's part and Cereza was determined to rest the case of the child's matronage. After a visit to the doctor's they had to wait two days for the results to come in. While she was determined to stay in denial, Jeanne was already treating him like part of the family.
"Now this is where you'll be staying," she directed him to a smartly furnished room, fit for a student. "Dinner will be on at 6. Feel free to walk around. Nothing will harm you here." He nodded in response. "Speaking of which, what was your name?" Before he could respond, there came a loud crash with the name "CEREEEZAAAAAAA!!" being roared.
"Oh dear, that's probably Luka," Jeanne muttered looking back through the doorway, "I hope he didn't break anything valuable."
Downstairs was chaotic. A distressed young man with a scarf was on his knees clinging to Cereza's leg.
"PLEASE TELL ME IT'S NOT TRUE!" he wailed. Cereza pulled out one of her guns and shot at him, just barely grazing his hair. He yelped and lept back onto the floor.
"Now now Cheshire, we don't know if he's my son yet," she tossed her weapon in the air and it vanished, "But what you will do is behave yourself and act appropriately. This sniveling does not suit you," she turned around to see the boy coming down the stairs. "Speak of the devil," she added for emphasis. She motioned for him to come over and stand next to her.
"What did you say your name was?" she asked, crossing her arms.
"HE LOOKS JUST LIKE YOU!" Luka interjected, knife-handing in the direction of the boy.
"Uncanny isn't it?"the boy replied, "The more time I spend around her it seems like everyone thinks she is my mom." He looked at the tall dark haired bespectacled woman who did not return his gaze. This was not going to go smoothly.
Two Days Later
They sat in the doctor's office smartly dressed. Side by side they already looked like mother and son; their outfits seeming to coordinate. When the doctor called them back she had them sit down in the examination room. Cereza clutched her handbag, anxious for the news. The doctor sat across from them, results in hand. She crossed one leg over the other and fixed them with a glare. The two leaned forward expectantly.
"Is this a joke to you?" she questioned.
"What do you mean?" Cereza was indignant.
"A maternity test? Really? How could you not know that's your son? I mean look at him!" she pointed at the youth.
"YOU'RE LYING!" the witch leaped forward and snatched the envelope from the other woman. She ripped it open and read the contents. After a few re-reads she had only one response: she promptly fainted. The doctor and the boy exchanged glances.
"Is she always this theatric?" she asked. The boy shrugged, thanked the woman and wordlessly picked his mother off the floor, her arm over his shoulder. He stole a glance at the paper and the print was a bit hard to read, but there is was: 99% match. He had found his mother at last.
Once they were outside, she had gained some composure.
"99 PERCENT MATCH ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!" Bayo punched and invisible punching bag.
"Oh come on, it's not like I asked to be here, you got knocked up!" the boy was trying to reason with her and was looking ten times more dignified.
"Me, a mother? What kind of joke is this!? I only like the making process of children, NOT RAISING THEM!" by this point she had straightened up and was walking normally. "I'm going to call you Joker from now on, I don't care what the hell the government says." Joker nodded in agreement. The name suited him in probably the worst way imaginable but hey, he got a mom out of the deal. Even if that mom thought he was a joke.
"Maybe next time you'll use protection?" he offered. Bayo promptly hit him backside his head with her handbag to shut him up.
"Shut up," she ordered. Then as if an afterthought she straightened his hair, "Look at me," they both paused on the sidewalk as she straightened out his jacket. "No son of mine is going to be running around looking a fright. Let's go, Joker."
This chapter is actually the re-write since I lost the original. It was WAY better than what I have now and I'm sorry it's not as good.
Chapter 3: Not So Wicked Inheritance
Maternity parties always have cake and gifts.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
I am thou.
Thou art I.
Thou hast acquired a new vow.
Joker awoke in the Velvet Room again. After almost a year of it being destroyed it was available again. This time, however, it was empty. His cell door was open, and all the other cells were vacant. What was the meaning of this? Suddenly the room vanished and he was back in his own bedroom. It was mostly dark and the moon was not visible. He was not mistaken, he heard the voice again. He had acquired a new vow. But what? What vow? The Velvet Room was completely vacant. Maybe the vision is temporary. That section of his life was over now.
The morning arrived soon enough and he was dressed and downstairs for breakfast. He'd still have to go to school after all and while having his mother around was great, the new school semester was not one to wait. In the kitchen there was Jeanne again, flipping pancakes in a sharp red dress suit and apron.
"Good morning," she sing-songed while he set the table. He returned the greeting and began working on a pot of coffee.
"Jeanne, are you married to mom?" he asked out of curiosity. Jeanne didn't seem to mind the question and answered as simply as possible.
"Cereza and I had talked about marriage off and on for ages. Frankly she's too free-spirited and I'm too steady so it would never work," she was matter-of-fact about it, "We settled for domestic partnership," she turned around with a plate stacked with pancakes and set them on the table.
"Where is she anyway?" he inquired, his eyes searching the room. He tried using his Third Eye but brought up nothing.
"She probably went out slaughtering angels again," the white-haired woman crossed her arms and sighed, "Just like her." Suddenly, the front door burst open and a flash of red barreled through its opening followed by Cereza strutting after. The lump of red on the floor stood up and straightened up to reveal a white haired man in a red coat.
"Goddammit woman, you ripped this thing again!" he yelled.
"If you had come quietly you wouldn't have that problem," Cereza shot back, pushing up her glasses. This time she was wearing a grey blouse and black skirt, looking like the boss she was. "I usually have an easier time getting you back home," she muttered absentmindedly. She spotted Joker and Jeanne watching from the kitchen table and without missing a beat broke out in the the most chipper attitude. "Good morning Jeanne!" she rushed over and hugged the other woman, pecking her on the cheek. "And how's my son doing today?" she turned to Joker, arms still wrapped around Jeanne.
"I slept alright," he responded with a grin.
"And what am I? Chopped liver?" Dante had strolled into the kitchen and fell into a chair at the table, clearly exasperated at the modelesque figures that were still embracing in front of them.
"Coffee?" Joker offered. Dante held out a cup in thanks.
"So, your mom here tells me you're my son," he straightened up in his chair.
"Aht aht! I said there is a possibility that he's your son," Cereza corrected and sat down at the table next to Dante with Jeanne taking the place next to her. The Son of Sparda looked Joker over with scrutiny.
"He's still young. I didn't come into my powers for about 5 years," it seemed that Dante was more ready to accept parenthood than Cereza was.
"We haven't even taken the test yet!" Cereza hissed disapprovingly, "Heaven forbid I'm actually right about this."
"Either way it would be no surprise, you slept with both brothers," Jeanne quipped before taking a sip of coffee.
"At the same time I might add," Dante added. Joker's eyes grew wide and he shot a look at his mother who was across the round table.
Joker excused himself from the table to go to school.
"Wait, I'm taking you," Cereza stood up, bag in hand, "We're driving."
In the car the awkward silence continued. Joker wasn't sure how to react. Was it okay to laugh about his mother's sexual exploits? Dante was actually pretty funny. It would be interesting if he was his father. IF.
"So...you were pretty wild in the past, weren't you?" he finally broke the silence.
"I...had a LOT of fun but can't remember all of it," she admitted, glancing at him briefly, "That...time resulted in your birth it seems..." her voice trailed off as she made a turn, "I'm sorry," she added finally. They drove on longer in silence. Joker felt himself choke up a little but swallowed his feelings. "Here we are," she announced. Students were still filing in.
"Thanks, mom," he finally croaked. Cereza hit him with her clutch again.
"Don't be so sappy, you'll make me cry!" she wailed, "Out with you!" She shooed him out of the car and watched him saunter into the schoolyard. Did he have some pep in his step?
Joker arrived to what seemed to be a "Welcome Home Son" party. It was every bit as cheesy as he might have imagined; except for the part where he received twin pistols called 'Siul a Run' and a knife.
"I had Rodin whip something up for you," Cereza beamed, "Use them well."
"B-but..." he began.
"Oh, I know you have some supernatural powers. I could tell just by looking at you that you've inherited something. What that is depends on your patronage. Cake?" she offered a plate of the most tantalizing cake he had ever laid eyes on. He gladly took the plate and began cutting pieces off with the knife and eating it. Jeanne grimaced.
"Absolutely barbaric," she clucked her tongue in disapproval.
"You didn't give me a fork!" Joker protested.
"I'm pretty sure he is just like his father," Bayo was completely nonchalant, "You won't be doing that outside the house, got it?" she pointed at him warningly. He nodded with a mouthful of cake. "I got Dante to take a DNA test for us. I'm honestly unsure if he's your father. I have reasons to doubt that."
"You've got 3 days Cereza and you two were frequent sweethearts," Jeanne patted Cereza's head affectionately, stroking her hair. The grey-eyed woman still looked uncertain. Joker took the seat next to her and laid his head on her shoulder.
"It'll be alright mom. I'm fine with having to mothers," he said seriously, "It's probably for the best anyway." This time Jeanne bopped him on the head with what looked like a detailed history book, with affection of course.
"I suppose I could step up to a parenting role. It helps that you're mostly grown," she was trying to be serious but she cracked a modest smile, "I don't mind having a son."
This chapter is incomplete and will be added to later.
23:11- I've updated the chapter to completion. I had to change the chapter summary. Paternity test will conclude next chapter!
Chapter 4: Sons of Fathers
The results are in folks! And it's just as disappointing as you'd imagine.
Of course the 3 days went by like clockwork and the results came in. Joker, Bayonetta, and Dante were all sitting in the doctor's office waiting for the results. Joker couldn't pretend to be surprised at the fact that Dante was in fact his father. With this knowledge though there was little doubt they'd be anything resembling an actual family unit. There were too many differences to be had.
And then there was Uncle Virgil.
Virgil looked exactly like Dante, but had twice the dignity. He was actually waiting for them when they got home, along with Jeanne who was grading papers at the breakfast table.
"So the news--" she began without looking up.
"Exactly what we all suspected," Cereza finished, collapsing into the chair next to her friend. She didn't speak a word to Virgil who seemed amused at her lack of recognition.
"I'm a dad now," Dante was resigned to his fate. He opted to lean against the counter and crossed his arms. Joker opted to sit between Cereza and Jeanne.
"That's the most unfortunate news I've ever heard," Virgil finally spoke without looking up, "I give to you my condolences."
"Condolences? Really?" Jeanne put down her pen and took off her glasses.
"His son looks nothing like him and has no powers, is this really something to be happy about?" Virgil was extremely matter-of-fact about it. Joker bristled but said nothing.
"Is having an asshole son really something to be proud of?" Dante countered. It wasn't a very good counter but...
"Your mother must be oh so proud of you, Virgil," she spat icily as she stood up slowly placing her hands on his shoulders as she stood behind him, "Now is that any way to speak of your nephew as he's right in the room with you?" Virgil stiffened under her grasp and attempted to leave, but Cereza kept him pinned to his chair. "Now I know that none of us here have squeaky clean lineages or perfect children and therefore we all should be biting our tongues; but Virgil you always have something to say, no matter how useless."
"And how's Nero's mother?" she whispered in his ear. That was the last straw. Virgil leaped out of his chair whipped around to face her, sword materializing in hand.
"Aht aht aht, not in this house!" Jeanne roared, pulling out her pistols.
"Stand down V," Dante barked, not moving from his post, "You'll scuff the furniture." Up until now he hadn't said anything and was holding back. He made eye contact with Joker and nodded. Virgil put his sword away but Jeanne didn't put away her guns. Cereza stood and crossed her arms, slowly walking towards the man in the blue coat until their faces were inches from each other.
"You have no idea what my son is capable of," she said pointedly, "And as for your spawn I can only imagine he's Sparda's one trick pony." Virgil was incensed at the suggestion, but before he could react, he was cut off. "Make your peace and get out," she ordered. In an instant Virgil left.
"Went straight for the jugular didn't you?" Dante laughed as he sat in Virgil's vacant chair.
"I've dealt with demons higher than him," Cereza sighed and took her place right next to her son who was still taking in everything that had transpired.
"Your uncle has some issues," Jeanne explained, pistols now gone, "One of them being he can't let go of his sibling rivalry." She sat back down and continued to grade papers.
"He's always been like that," Dante poured himself a cup of coffee.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Joker asked.
"Did you see how your mother handled him? She's godly when it comes to diplomacy," then he added, "Unlike my brother I'm not insecure about my offspring. I'm confident you'll come into your own eventually."
"You've got Umbra Witch and Demon blood running through you," Cereza stated, tracing the top of her teacup. Joker nearly spat out his coffee.
"Demon blood?" he choked, eyes wide in surprise
"Son of Sparda, half demon, half human," Dante tousled the boy's hair, "You'll learn more later."
It shall become the wings of rebellion that breaketh thy chains of captivity.
With the power of the Sun and Moon and Star Personas you have obtained the winds of blessing that shall lead to freedom and new power.
"We meet again Joker," Arsene's voice rumbled.
Chapter 5: Family History
The family background is...complicated. The Tree continues to twist.
Arsene had returned. If he returned that meant that god had started yet another game with mankind. And once again, he was a Persona user. Joker sat at his desk, determined to make the most of his study time. He had formed bonds with 3 Arcana at once, so he could rest easy for a moment. After another 20 minutes passed he could no longer contain his restlessness. He went downstairs to see if Jeanne was baking anything. Instead he found the woman grading yet another stack of papers.
"I thought you were studying?" she asked without looking up.
"I've given up for now," he replied truthfully, "Instead I wanted to ask you some things."
"Sure sure," she motioned for him to sit at the table, "First put on some coffee and treats and I'll answer your questions." When he had done so she put down her pen and crossed her legs. "What do you want to know?"
"You're not a normal human are you?" he asked point-blank.
"Perceptive. Your mother and I are the last in a long line of Umbra Witches. We've been around for a while," Jeanne began pouring herself some coffee, "Our job is to provide balance between the three realms: Paradiso, Inferno, and Purgatorio." Joker couldn't pretend to be shocked. After all, he fought back an actual god just last semester and entered a metaverse of human subconscious; was this really so weird? "You're handling this well. Good, you're definitely the son of your mother," Jeanne's praise of his composure felt unearned. He hadn't even shown her his powers yet.
"What about my father?" he added.
"Ah, good old Dante," Jeanne chuckled as she rubbed her forehead with her hand, "Your father is a half-human offspring of a high demon known as Sparda. He sided with humanity, settled down, and raised a family before disappearing a while back. His twin brother is just like him only far less empathetic towards humanity. Virgil is also better with his finances." So his old man was bad with money and was part demon. He vaguely wondered what his cousin Nero was like, but the consensus was that he was ill-mannered and irritating to be around.
"What else would you like to know?" the witch took off her glasses and set them on the table, "I can answer a few more before I get dinner ready."
"How do Umbra Witches keep the balance?" he inquired.
"We kill angels," Jeanne explained, "The easiest way I can put it is that Heaven and Hell are both greedy for souls. Us killing angels keeps them from overrunning the earth and snatching souls to Paradiso."
"I thought most people wanted to go to Paradiso?" he was confused, "Isn't it better than Inferno?"
"It's complicated," came his response. The answer disturbed him because up until then he had never quite thought about life after death. "It's also not as bad as you think," Jeanne added as an anecdote, "The afterlife for decent humans is a place of respite." Joker sighed in relief.
"I take it I won't be meeting my grandparents anytime soon?" he offered, changing the subject.
"Well...Sparda is...somewhere. Very elusive type, being a demon and all. And Balder, Cereza's father is--"
"Fucking unbelievable," Cereza's voice echoed from the front room. It took moments before she glided into the kitchen and sank into the chair next to Jeanne.
"What is it now?" Jeanne asked without looking up.
"The convent doesn't want me coming back!"
"You don't even live there!" the white haired woman set down her pen and glared at the other woman in exasperation.
"My vows from back then should still be in effect!"
"Mom..." Joker started, "Maybe you should get a career change."
"For what?! I'm overqualified for everything!" she threw her hands up in the air. Jeanne continued to glare at her in disbelief.
"Everything? Seriously, Cereza I swear you have something against teaching! I told you to quit being a stupid bitch and apply for that opening at my school!" Apparently Cereza hated to actual work, even though she was brilliant at it. So my mother is a brilliant and powerful but insufferably lazy witch and my father is a brilliant but lazy son of a demon. Joker was putting the pieces together and things started making more sense.
"My parents are powerful but lazy people..." he didn't realize what he was saying out loud and was suddenly mortified that his mom had heard.
"Correction, you father is the lazy one. Always in debt, barely clean, disrespectful---"
"And you bedded him anyway," Jeanne pointed out. Cereza shut up instantly and got red in the cheeks. Joker wanted to ask about Nero but decided that he'd asked enough for the day.