It looked like Toko was enjoying her attentions, and this made the girl smile. She had always loved animals but she didn’t think she would ever keep one in her house: the apartment was too small for a dog or a cat, and she didn’t have enough money to buy food for them or to pay for medical visits. So she was content with petting stray cats on the street or simply with hugging stuffed animals instead, even if they were almost as expensive as a real animal in her opinion. “You’re right… It’s not like people can imagine it comes from the infernal world”, she admitted. Humans didn’t know anything about other worlds, so they would probably believe Toko was just an enormous dog that loved to be petted. She giggled in delight when the dog sat down, making it easier for her to caress its soft fur and reach its ears to scratch behind them. Just like a puppy… Bigger than her, sure, but still a cuddly puppy. “I don’t like seeing animals suffer either… I can understand you”, she reassured him. She couldn’t stand any kind of suffering after all, be it to animals or people, so she could easily understand why Carlos renounced to becoming a vet. Having to kill an old dog or seeing an ill cat die was surely a horrible experience. She couldn’t help laughing at the boy’s words, even if she didn’t miss Heikichi’s huff in reply. Those two seemed to get along well, luckily. “In this case… okay, I can try. Just don’t expect me to understand how it works immediately!”. She had always been quite a disaster with electronical devices, and videogames wouldn’t be an exception. She rubbed Toko’s face for the last time before patting on its head and walking to the couch where Heikichi was.
Not all places were ideal for animals to live, but if she needed something to pet Toko would always be available. Carlos wasn’t kidding when he said it was smart: it will instantly nuzzle someone who is feeling sad. “Yep, that’s the good thing. Though I did believe it was weird when I first found the little guy… well, it’s grown up a little but not that much.” he still remembered those weird times when he was starting to discover about the infernal world. It was a tough year, and not school-wise. “That’s why I’m studying to become a nurse instead. I saved this guy’s life once and gave me the feeling that I’ll be better at taking care of people.” he laughed softly for a moment. Heikichi didn’t seem to react to the comment. Maybe that hadn’t happened when he was out. “Come on, quit yapping. Where’s the disk at?” he interrupted their chatter as the TV was already turned on and showed a black screen with a warning. “Oh, it’s already inside. Hey, hand Daken the big controller! I think she can deal with it better.” Carlos replied, climbing up to the couch. As Heikichi went through a couple of menu screens, the other boy smiled at her. “Don’t worry, I’m patient enough. He’ll be starting up the game and I’ll tell you how the buttons work.” now the screen was showing a title and a bunch of characters posing. It seemed to be a cartoony fighting game. “So this stick here works to move the character, you turn it left and it moves that direction…, this button is to jump, and all of these are for hitting the other character. This one attacks in a special way that changes with the character. You have to push them out the scenario. There are more controls but first grab these okay?” he explained calmly, pointing at the buttons of a white game pad connected to what looked to a TV remote that he didn’t pay attention to. Finally, the screen showed a character grid. "Okay so the lady’s green, you’re red. I put you two in a team together." Carlos pouted “Oh, come on, I’m Player one!” "Suck it!" it seemed mostly friendly bickering, but it was still odd how Heikichi managed to argue with anyone.
Animals were different from humans and they could usually understand quite easily what kind of creature they were dealing with. Daken had never had many problems with animals, apart from a few of them that treated her suspiciously because they realized she wasn’t a normal human, but she had never got attacked by them. So she wasn’t too nervous being next to Toko, even if for sure it was one of the biggest animals she had ever seen in her life. It was taller than her, even! But once she was reassured about its opinion on her, she smiled and carefully proceeded to pet its head. “Aww, what a cutie…”, she couldn’t help muttering. Hugging that soft head would probably be an interesting experience, but for now she just went on petting Toko and rubbing behind its ears, like she would do with a normal dog. “Do your parents really believe it’s just a… stray dog? Human dogs are not so big!”. She giggled and raised her other hand too to pet the dog’s neck and its back. She almost had to stand on the tips of her feet to reach its head, it was like… trying to pet Koichi’s hair, in a way. This thought made her laugh again to herself, she was sure that the boy wouldn’t like to be compared to a dog. More like a teddy bear, in her opinion. “You sure have quite a lot of animals in here, they must adore you”. If Toko was such a good dog, there were probably no problems between it and the cat. She turned towards the couch only when she heard Heikichi’s voice. “A videogame…? I’ve never played one of those though, so I don’t think… I mean, I don’t even know how it works”, she admitted. She obviously didn’t own any games nor did she ever go to an arcade.
Heikichi had always known very well animals could feel something about people around him. It had to be both attitude and species because, while they behaved well with Koichi, he only earned growling and barking. A couple of years ago it had fed well his idea of him being a monster. He observed them as the huge dog moved its head in order to her to pet it more easily, its tail wagging and the ears flattening. “Well, they believed it was a wolf at first but it really behaves like a dog instead. A very smart dog, so they buy it. Most people do, actually.” what were people going to think instead, that it was an otherworldly creature? Only children thought that way and it worked at his advantage. The dog ended up resting its belly on the floor for easier petting. Toko sure knew hoe to earn attention. “I’ve always been very good with animals! I wanted to be a vet as a kid but then I realized that I can’t stand seeing them suffer, so I just have many pets.” he smiled. His attention was finally called by Heikichi and the girl’s response to him. “Don’t worry, this idiot hadn’t played one either until I got him into it a month ago or so. You have no idea of how bad he is, but we have fun as long as he doesn’t smash the controls.” this comment was met by a huff by the red-eyed, who proceeded to get up in order to turn on the console and pick up a few controllers. “Come on, give it a go! I’ll show you how it works.” Carlos invited her.
From what she saw in the past, she already suspected that Gnash and Heikichi didn’t get along at all, but after all she could iamgine the reason and she didn’t really feel like arguing about it - especially not with the red-eyed. Soshe simply nodded a little and showed a half smile. “He’s… creepy, yes”, was her only reply, but it was meant to partially agree with the boy’s words. As she looked at Carlos she was trying to guess his age: at first she thought he was younger than her, but after some time she started believing that maybe it was only because of his appearance. Actually, he could be her same age or maybe Koichi’s, for sure not older than that. “I don’t… think we ever saw each other, but if I’m not wrong Koichi told me about you”. Being vague on purpose, she didn’t really feel like thinking or talking about that fight, because it would remind her of Keir. That poor infernal didn’t deserve to die, in her opinion. She followed the boy inside and froze in the middle of the room at the sight of that enormous… dog? Wolf? What could it be? She had never seen such a creature before, so she took a careful step back and looked at it with scared eyes. “It’s… b-big”, she commented. That animal was taller than her, but it didn’t look hostile, luckily. “Eh? So it comes from the infernal world? And why—- I mean, how can you have it here?”. She let out a choked gasp when Toko came closer to her, but she thought it would be better not to move. It looked friendly, at least. “It’s not going to bite me, is it?”. If not, she would gladly stop resisting the urge to pet it. She loved furry animals, and that Toko looked like a soft plush.
For Heikichi, Gnash would always be a complicated subject. He knew he was an ally now, but he could’t help being hostile around him. After all, he really had given a lot of problems. Actually, Carlos was of Koichi’s age, only that genetics had made him look a couple of years younger than he was. People often found it hard to believe he was in university. “Probably yeah. We’re pretty tight.” he agreed. Of course, he was referring to his relationship with the purple-eyed. His relationship with Heikichi wasn’t bad, but it still had to improve. He didn’t know too much about Keir himself, so it was better if they didn’t talk about it. The huge dog sniffer her for a couple of seconds and seemed to be satisfied, as then it yapped happily and nuzzled its head against her. “I think he likes you! Don’t worry. He won’t bite you or anything and he absolutely loves belly rubs.” he laughed afterwards. “My parents just think it’s some kind of stray dog that is freakishly big but they let me have it. I actually found it a couple of years ago, shortly after meeting Koi. I’ve always been good with animals… I also have a cat, a hamster, two guinea pigs and a parrot. They’re all friendly but don’t try to pet the parrot.” he warned her. If she walked around the house she’d see all of them and since Carlos was good with them those animals accepted almost everyone, excepting Heikichi. "Hey, I came here to beat your ass in Smash Bros so don’t keep me waitin’." the red-eyed growled from the couch. “Face it, you may be a great warrior but you’re terrible with games!” the boy replied. "Whatever. Daken, wanna give it a go?"
If the person Heikichi wanted her to meet was part of their group it meant that she wouldn’t have to hide the fact that she wasn’t a human, which made everything much easier for everyone: she hated lying, even if it was simply pretending to be a human, and for sure faking things wasn’t the best way to start a friendship. She wondered if this boy already knew that she was Koichi’s girlfriend… probably yes, but in any case she wasn’t going to point this out. The simple thought still made her blush, even if she was slowly starting to get used to the idea of having a boyfriend. “W-well, I already know Gnash…”, she replied, but she totally agreed with him: she didn’t think she would ever manage to spend an afternoon with the purple-haired like a group of friends would do, he was way too creepy for her tastes. But she still appreciated his presence, especially considering that he had helped her a lot the previous day. She silently followed Heikichi through those unknown streets and looked at the building with curiosity, trying to guess what kind of person could live there. Once the boy appeared, she profitted by the short moment in which his attention was focused on the green infernal to observe his appearence: he looked like a friendly person, maybe younger than what she expected but for sure not younger than her. She smiled shyly - that couldn’t be helped at all! - and awkwardly gave a light shake to the other’s hand, tilting her head as if she was bowing a little. “I’m Daken. It’s… nice to meet you!”. Carlos… She had already heard that name, but when? She frowned a little while trying to dig in her memory until she realized he was the one who had fought against that white infernal, Keir, some time before. “I hope I’m not disturbing…”.
Obviously, Heikichi had been mindful enough to not invite her somewhere she’d have to hide her own nature. Maybe Carlos hadn’t met a demon before, but he was already used to a lot of weird things, so many that it even surprised him he still stuck around. And no, he didn’t know Koichi had a girlfriend yet. His sister did know but she was nice enough to keep the secret. “Gnash is an asshole to be with.” the infernal simply remarked. No, they really didn’t get along even if they fought together sometimes. Carlos didn’t seem like much of a big deal, quite average looking and having too much of a youthful appearance for his actual age even if there were traces of lazily shaved facial hair. “Oh! We saw each other before, I think? Sorry, I just know you’re Koichi’s friend but not much else.” he did seem to have recognized her name too. “Of course you’re not disturbing, make yourself at home!” he seemed quite a cheerful person at first glance. Once inside, Heikichi was scolding a huge, really huge dog in the living room. "Tell Toko to stop fucking barking at me!" he shouted at him. The dog was only around ten centimetres shorter than Heikichi himself, but it did have a funny looking face. Its thick gray fur made it look even bigger and the eyes seemed to have a light violet colour. It instantly changed its mind about the infernal and walked up to Daken in order to sniff her, wagging its tail happily. “It’s my… eh, dog. It’s kind of an infernal creature thing but we get along and it acts just like a dog.” the human boy explained. “But red-eyes doesn’t get along with animals” he added as Heikichi sat on the couch, huffing. The dog seemed to be quite smart, as it was moving slowly to avoid scaring her.
She would never dare call him an angry dog, nor even think about it: aside from the fact that she wasn’t the kind of person to insult others in any way, she knew how angry Heikichi could actually get if anyone bothered him. Now he was being nice, which was surprising but also pleasant, but he could change his mind in any moment and decide that he didn’t want to be so friendly with her; so she would do her best to keep him calm and also behave friendly too, because she really want to make him understand that he could trust her - and she wanted to trust him too. “Ah… If your friend is fine with it, I guess it’s okay for me too”. She had never played a videogame in her whole life and she didn’t think she would ever learn to play one, but the idea of playing with pets sounded more than tempting. She loved animals after all. She smiled sweetly at him, one of those smiles she usually reserved only for Koichi. She guessed he deserved one. “Yes, I really want to come with you. It will be nice to meet someone new for once… It’s not like I have any other friends”. Well, there was Gnash, but she didn’t really consider him a friend - more like a creepy stalker who could also be nice at times. She tilted her head and smiled again at him. “Shall we go, then?”. It was a pity to discard the project of going to the medieval market, but that was something that would be better to do with her boyfriend… not with Heikichi. And it was already surprising enough that he had decided to spend time with her anyway instead of simply telling her to go back home.
He had anger issues. Everybody knew it, and he did little about it because he thought his anger could counter Koichi’s lack of initiative. In a way, it did. But it also got him into trouble. He really wanted to make a small change for once and accept Daken in their life. She was a good girl after all… she wouldn’t take advantage of him or force him to do anything, but their personalities clashed too much to be friends. He still would attempt it. “Don’t worry, he’s a nice guy. He’s friends with Koichi as well and belongs to our little group. He’s got his heart in the right place.” he guessed she wouldn’t like to play videogames, but he still wanted to invite her over and hope nobody in the room would become an awkward third wheel. “Guessed so. I guess that starting with him is better than dealing with Gnash or Lucy. Specially the fuckin’ Cyclops.” he didn’t hold the infernal very dear either, it seemed. "Yeah, it’s not far from here." he agreed. He knew they had planned to go to the medieval market, but it was going to be there for a whole week. They wouldn’t miss it.
After walking for a couple of minutes, they stopped in front on a generic-looking apartments building to which Heikichi had his own key. He even made the silent gesture to let her come in first. Luckly, no stairs had to be climbed. The first door at the right. He knocked and it was soon opened by a human boy. He looked somewhat lanky, tanned, with a youthful face, round chestnut eyes and short brown hair that showed partially through a red hat. “That was fast. Come in!” he told Heikichi, who smiled and gave a quick tug of his hat before coming inside. Then the boy directed his attention to Daken. “As rude as ever he doesn’t even introduce each other…” he shook his head, but smiling, held a hand out. “I’m Carlos.”
She rolled her eyes at his defensive tone, wondering if her was actually taking her teasing seriously. “Yes, I bumped into you here and you got mad at me, remember?” She asked with a giggle and shook her head. “You really are bad with this sort of thing. Two minutes, right?” She muttered, pulling out her phone to check the time and started walking again, hoping that simply retracing his steps like this would help…and not make things any worse.
"Yeah, I remember what happened, not where it happened. Everything here looks exactly the same." Heikichi replied, holding back a frustrated scowl. He was already painfully aware of his navigation problem, he didn’t need people pointing at it. "Two minutes, yeah, more or less. If I’m close to the portal I may be able to sense it." he was mostly saying that so she’d be calm and not get frustrated with him. Maybe he was profiting by her, but he didn’t have other choice. “Thank goodness you know your way around this place.” he grunted as they walked.
…it’s not really fair to talk in who wins or not terms… -sighs- I suppose you can brawl with Heikichi whenever you want. He’s always in the mood for that.
Why not? [He tilts his head to a side, and then the other.]
Well—It’s not a fight. You should reach an agreement that can please both of you at least a little… -Was he really giving the other advice? The world has gone mad-
She quickly walked across the street and turned back towards the buildings where she knew the alley lied where she had met him. A small giggle escaped her lips and she glanced at him over her shoulder. “I was born with this color hair. It’s not nice to make fun, you know,” She said jokingly then looked forward again, turning a corner after she quickly glanced around again, bringing them to their meeting place. “Okay, so can you possibly remember how it was the you ended up here before you ran into me?” She asked, turning to him once again.
He was still looking around the buildings, trying to find references that remembered him that he had been there before. Not a clue. If he had to describe them, they looked perfectly generic, and yet she seemed to manage herself. "I was born with this hair colour too but I’m not a human, just saying’…" he replied in a somewhat defensive way but also smirking. He wasn’t being serious about that. When they stopped, he was as clueless as before. "Huh? We met here?" he mumbled, then tried turning around to the direction he was originally facing the first time he went there. No luck. "No. But I do know that I walked straight without taking turns and I noticed I was lost around… two minutes of walking before reaching this point." he hoped that was enough information.
Letting her eyes wander around the square, Daken quickly looked at everyone around her in order to find Koichi’s familiar face. She spotted him sitting on the fountain, quite far from where she was, so she hurried to walk faster in order to reach him; once she got closer, though, she noticed the choker and frowned. How weird… She couldn’t imagine him wearing that kind of accessories rather than his bandanna. When he raised his eyes, though, she understood why she was finding it so strange. For a moment she didn’t know how to react, she simply kept looking at him with eyes wide open without saying a word: there wasn’t anger or disappointment in her gaze though, simply surprise. She just didn’t expect to see the red-eyed. However, the lack of hostility in his voice eventually made her smile lightly too. “Don’t worry, I know it’s not your fault”, she reassured him. The only thing she regretted was not to be able to spend an afternoon with Koichi, but it wasn’t something they could change in any way. His following words surprised her even more though. She was expecting him to tell her to go back home, was he actually willing to spend time with her? After some seconds of hesitation she ended up nodding, pushed by curiosity more than anything else. “S-sure… What is it?”. She fidgetted with her small bag, making her many colourful bracelets ring onto each other as she looked up at him.
A curious thing about Heikichi wearing chokers at times was that it gave people many more reasons to call him an angry dog. He punched those people, and wouldn’t hesitate to punch Daken too if she mentioned it, no matter how nice he was trying to be. Obviously, the girl was surprised. He was surprised too to have even found himself doing that, but what was the harm? "I still apologize just in case." he replied. He often found himself pushed to apologize for things he had no control over, and it pissed him off. At least the girl hadn’t made an excuse to get away from him and even seemed lightly interested in his proposal. "I called to come over a friend’s house to play games. He’s got board games, videogames or you can just play with his pets but I guessed it was about time you opened up your friends circle too. He’s fine with you coming over." he made a short pause to look to a side, then say even more surprising words coming from him. “If you want to, that is. I’m not forcin’ you or anythin’.” then he stuffed his hands in his pockets, frowning a little, though he wasn’t angry.
I suppose the other didn’t share the idea… you could have talked it out somehow.
Yeah, but he won. [Not including how he was put in timeout.]
…it’s not really fair to talk in who wins or not terms… -sighs- I suppose you can brawl with Heikichi whenever you want. He’s always in the mood for that.