~This cosmic dance of bursting decadence and withheld permissions twists all our arms collectively, but... if a monster truck can win—and it can—then I'll still be here tomorrow to high-five you yesterday, my friend~
The sound of an absolutely batshit insane alarm clock resounded throughout Deen's apartment.
It was a gift from his boss—who'd always send him the stupidest gifts on a whim. Every week she'd send him a new one.
A few months after he'd helped that Super Galaxy King, er, Kirika Hotsuin- fight and defeat two of the Zodiac Knights, emergencies and cases were at an all-time low.
Of course, that could've been because Alexis Tenjouin, his boss, had publicized the Soul Armour Knights, causing more to be aware of their existence and apparent invincibility.
If the Magic Council had even one knight in their ranks, then evil magicians would definitely be less willing to commit crimes if they had to go up against an unstoppable juggernaut.
Deen's pink eyes shifted to the window, staring outside.
A winter wonderland was born overnight- dozens upon dozens of layers of white blanketed the green-ish grasses and trees outside, also covering the pavement.
The world that he lived in, it's seasons seemed to shift to whatever was convenient.
Deen could hear his holo-phone going off—he was sure of it, that he knew who was ringing him. Rummaging around in the trash of the titans that he called his home, he lazily pressed "call".
"...Alexis, no." Deen grumbled in a rather incoherent manner into the speaker. "It's New Years', I'm not doing any work."
"H-However—" That pink-haired, pompous buffoon's voice echoed through the transmitter. "I want you to test out this new magic-shooting gun—"
"—Not interested." Deen sighed; why did she always want him to test everything and do everything else? ...Maybe she forgot the names of every other person employed. "Don't call me again until new years, unless you just wanna hang out or something. I wanna go see my family."
With that, Deen Lhant hung up. Rolling out of his bed, he hit the floor with a loud *THUD*. His apartment wasn't much- just the bare minimum that was essential for living; a kitchen, bathhouse, and bedroom. It was all he could really afford, anyway, especially since Alexis had her employees work on minimum wage.
He didn't really mind it. Even though it was less than idyllic for somebody who's saved various political leaders from assassinations, protected numerous innocents, and taken down dozens upon dozens of dark magicians by himself, as long as he could keep sending his paychecks to his family, he was happy.
But there was an even bigger problem at hand—
—he still didn't know how to take the Driver Belt off.
He'd called Tsuruko about it a few days ago; all she said was that her own belt was a part of her body, so she could make it vanish and reappear by mere thought alone.
It seemed to be related to that red aura Tsuruko and Kirika manifested when they were fighting, seeing as how Kirika could manifest hers on a whim. He hadn't seen Giselle fight, so she probably could do the same.
In any case....
Deen Lhant wandered through the sleet-shrouded city streets of Era; though he wasn't too surprised that children and adults of all ages were out and about- even though there was a high possibility for a terror attack.
Though, the people believed in the competency of the Council and the Wizard Saint that lived in Era.
Or maybe, they just didn't care.
Generally, citizens lived a blissful existence, ignorant of dangers; but when there really was trouble, they used the Magic Council as a scapegoat- to be fair, Alexis Tenjouin was a shitty boss and rather incompetent, with Deen doing most of the heavy work, but she couldn't be blamed for everything that went wrong.
At least, despite the constant threat of the Hellions looming upon the horizon, the people of the continent were at peace.
Seeing all these children throwing snowballs and building snowmen reminded him of his childhood with his older sister, Alicia.
Deen's father died when he was young; his father, Ashton Lhant, was presumably killed by a criminal while trying to protect a little girl from being shot.
However, suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident caused his death to be shrouded in mystery, due to the fact that all of the people involved in the incident couldn't remember anything about it- and that girl hadn't been discovered since.
Ever since then, Alicia had to take up being a parent for both of them.
When Deen decided that he wanted to follow in their father's footsteps, the two siblings had a spat, resulting in Alicia leaving.
He always wondered where she was; even ten years later, she'd never attempted to contact him.
A rather tall woman; her hair might be called a Nordic blonde with a pale visage trudged through the snowy city of Era. Her white skin and purple eyes were her characteristic.
Kirika Hotsuin, dressed in a rather inconspicuous manner, shrouding her body and her usual attire with a black trenchcoat, complained about the weather. In comparison to her own hometown, that old lady who helped her in her childhood said that winter in Era was nothing.
However, the reality was different.
Kirika then remembered that the old lady was from the mountains and made up her mind to send her a very angry letter later on.
As she had mastered her own domain, it would be easy for Kirika to raise her burning, fighting spirit to easily adjust the temperature around her. But, more than anything, Kirika Hotsuin was a fearless woman who would never forgive herself if she lost to anyone or anything, especially not cold weather in a humid subtropical city.
Kirika shivered in the white snowy scenery. "B-b-b-b-b-b-b-bh-b-bh-bh...M-min-minus fifteen degrees!? What the hell is this number my cell phone is showing!?" Kirika sneezed, and hoped nobody noticed it. Luckily nobody was looking in her direction. "Th-this isn't accurate, right? ...The thermometer broke, right!?"
Kirika herself was in supposedly in Era for afternoon tea. Even though there was a café where she usually lived, it didn't have her favourite— the strawberry shortcake in the menu.
Kirika thought if snow started falling faster, then her way to the cafe would be much harder. She should request the café to add strawberry shortcake to the menu- she was very persuasive.
While thinking of food as she walked, Kirika Hotsuin bumped into somebody. "Tch, watch your—" Kirika stopped her words before she could finish it. The person she bumped into was someone she knew.
Bounding back, Deen Lhant tumbled along the ground, landing on his ass with a *THUD!*. Rubbing his back, the man stood to his feet, murmuring "I'm sorry..." until he noticed who he was talking to.
And at that moment, he felt his body being paralyzed with a slight fear. Even though the two seemed to bond well when Deen helped her a while back, he couldn't help but be scared to incur the wrath of Kirika Hotsuin.
However, despite what he was expecting, he didn't suffer any sort of disproportionate retribution.
That graceful visage that Kirika possessed, something which could only be thought to be man-made, smiled in a lively manner at Deen. "My, my. Fancy meeting you here, Deenie."
"What kinda nickname is that?" Deen grumbled; though it did feel nice to be perhaps one of the few people that Kirika didn't actually have plans to kill. "U-Uh, Super Galaxy—"
"Did you forget already?"
"Moron." Kirika sighed, a bit disappointed. "I told you, you can call me by my name, you know."
Even though he'd gained some insight into Kirika Hotsuin's feelings and thoughts, Deen still felt a bit awkward talking to her in a friendly manner.
After all, just a few months ago she regularly went on rampages on Council grounds and killed dozens of officers.
It certainly was an odd relationship, that was for sure.
"Kirika, s-sorry about that..."
Kirika engaged Deen with her dark purple eyes; her beautiful, long, silver hair that framed that small face, and big, beautiful eyes. Nevertheless, whilst those deep eyes reflected his outline, they seemed to be staring into his soul.
"No worries." Kirika laughed with a strange smile that was more like a grin; saying that, Kirika seized Deen's arms forcefully and started to walk. "Damn if this place isn't some sort of labyrinth. How do you get around here?"
"...It's my home. ...And I've never seen you here before." Deen grew suspicious for a moment. "You are going to turn over a new leaf, right?"
Come to think of it, Deen was enthralled by those eyes since they first got to properly interact.
"Like I said, I have no intention of being a villain." Kirika Hotsuin began to pick at her ears. "However, I'm definitely not a good person. We'll just see how it goes."
In Deen's confusion, he didn't even notice that she was leading the way...
They walked a lot.
Kirika didn't do much shopping, but she would go into various boutiques to look around, heading into another whenever she got bored.
Deen's requests to take a rest at the café or a movie theater were denied, but she was in the right. It would have been boring to go to such places with the way Kirika constantly acted.
Whenever Deen asked her about what she was doing here in the first place, Kirika would simply ignore him. ...She really talked a lot; she seemed excited somehow.
Entering the supermarket, Kirika, still holding Deen like she could crush him like an ant at any second (she didn't seem to be aware of her tight grip); asking "Since I'm restocking a fridge," note how she didn't specify if it was her fridge- "I need help choosing what to take from this food library."
"Uh...Kirika, it's called a grocery store."
"Potato, poetatoe." Barging into the grocery store, Kirika Hotsuin began to wander around, grabbing anything that looked appetizing with her grubby hands.
"Two pinches of salt..." Picking up a salt shaker, Kirika stared at it as if she'd never seen something before. Turning the implement upside-down, she hammered at it with her right hand, only to watch it fall through the bottom of the basket. "...Whoa."
Deen simply applied his palm to his forehead in exasperation. "You've...never gone grocery shopping, right?"
"Nope!" Kirika cheerfully admitted such a truth to his face. "I normally just steal, so there's that."
...In the end, Deen Lhant had to pay for all the damages Kirika caused- as well as her groceries bill.
The rest of the stores that Kirika went to were fashion-oriented, but Deen was relieved that they were all for women's clothing.
Eventually, Kirika became tired from looking through four department stores in four hours; with her and Deen deciding to get something to eat, ending up in a fast food joint.
Taking off her trenchcoat once she took a seat, her wild looks drew glances from all around; though this didn't bother Kirika one bit.
To be honest, Deen still felt a bit nervous around Kirika. Even though she seemed to be changing for the better, there was a certain aura of unease about her. Steeling his nerves, he asked her something he'd been wondering all this time; "What are you doing here, anyway?"
Kirika, of course, played it off as if she'd forgotten. "No reason, really." She ate her hamburger disinterestedly. "I came here to see something interesting."
"You're sure you're not going to cause trouble?" Deen's eyes focused intently on her; of course, for her to change so quickly, it certainly was suspicious.
"Geez, geez," Kirika rolled her eyes as she took a swig of apple juice. "Quit actin' like I'm gonna cause a massacre. I told you like I told the last guys who flipped their lids at me when I blew up that preschool; my character wasn't properly established then. Besides, I thought we sorted this out last time."
What on earth is she talking about? As that sentence ran through Deen Lhant's mind, he couldn't help but find it amusing that the ex-criminal with a penchant for slicing things in half had distaste for anything alcoholic. "Look, I'm sorry. It's just...it's really damn weird for a cop to interact with a criminal without any, y'know..."
"Ohohohohoho," Kirika cackled heartily. Then again, her distinctly evil laugh and sharp shark teeth weren't really helping. "Don't sweat it. I told you, I don't feel like doing those things anymore. And let me let you in on something; there's no real point in attacking innocent people. Prey has to do something to deserve being hunted."
"...Yeah, I think I get that." Deen's eyes turned to his watch- the minute hand was only a few inches away from the hour hand, which was at twelve. New Year would ring in soon.
"I wanted to talk with you, Deenie, that's all." Kirika took another drink. She put the straw to her mouth briefly, and quickly let go; it seemed like she didn't like cold things. "Do ya understand?"
Deen answered uneasily, "Well, kind of." However, he actually felt like he knew what Kirika was talking about.
Standing up suddenly, Kirika slung her trenchcoat around her shoulders. Wandering over to Deen momentarily, she leant down. Deen's heartbeat began to rise; the closeness of the two caused his skin to turn red in embarrassment. As Kirika moved closer...
...she flicked his nose, laughing childishly. "Have a good new year~ I like you, so I'll see you again pretty soon."
Before Deen could properly register what the hell just happened, Kirika Hotsuin had vanished from sight.