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happiness is something we create

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Denji wakes up to the smell of week-old sweat and rotten meat, mixed with puke.

 

He groans, shoving off the weight clinging to his arm. He succeeds for about half a second before it’s back, tighter than before. Like some kind of leech. “I told you to take a shower yesterday, idiot. Why do you never listen to me?”

 

Power scrunches her face up and stares at him like he’s the dumb one here. “Humans are so picky about things being clean. What is the point when they just get dirty again?”

 

Denji’s about to launch into another sleep-deprived, angry rant about not smelling like shit when Power actually gets up, grumbling all the while, and stalks off to the bathroom, shedding her clothes as she goes. A moment later, he hears the sound of the shower running.

 

Power’s been surprisingly obedient, these days. He ponders on the thought before suddenly realizing—“Hey, you’re supposed to wash your clothes while you’re in there too!”

 


 

There’s about a million trash bags in the kitchen that neither he nor Power (who never gives a damn, anyways) can be bothered to take out. Denji thinks he really is a fucking hypocrite for complaining about Power’s stench when he isn’t doing much better himself, but arguing with her gives him—shit. He doesn’t know. Stability, maybe? Something like that.

 

In any case, it’s a hell of a lot better than being alone. Being alone makes him think too much about other things. Things like—Aki. Makima. He never got to go on that vacation with her, after all. He wants to feel Makima’s tits again. He misses her.

 

Denji rolls over on the couch, pressing his face into the cushions. If he tries hard enough he can pretend they’re as soft as those incredible boobs.

 

What was Aki thinking about when he killed all those people? What was he thinking about when Denji killed him? Was he thinking at all?

 

I’d like to request for the 4th division to withdraw from the mission, he’d said. Denji clenches his fists. Him and Power all excited to go hunting for the Gun Devil anyways. The money Aki left for him, like he knew he was going to die. Going on a trip to Hokkaido and laughing as Aki tried to eat his and Power’s cooking. The Gun Devil with Aki’s body.

 

You did well, Denji, Makima would say.

 

But had he?

 

“I’m hungryyy, Denji!”

 

Denji doesn’t move from his position on the couch. “Eat the leftovers in the fridge.”

 

He can literally hear her pout. “Don’t want it. I want blood.” A pause. “Can I?”

 

Her voice is soft at the end, which he wouldn’t have thought was even possible a couple months ago. He sighs, and extends an arm out tiredly. “Yeah, fine. Don’t take too much, I wanna eat before I pass out.”

 

He barely feels her teeth sinking into his arm, that’s how used to it he is. How used to being sliced up in general he is. It’s almost kind of comforting, actually.

 

“Why are you lying here, Denji?” Power asks belatedly once she’s done. “Are you trying to become a couch devil?”

 

This question is so stupid that Denji actually laughs, and gets up. “Yeah, then I’ll swallow you up when you try to sit on me.”

 

“I’ll kill you first!” She immediately makes a lunge for him and he dodges, pulling at her hair. By the time they’re done fighting Denji is lying spread-eagle on the ground, exhausted all over again, too exhausted to even think.

 

Nyako pads over and nudges at his face with a paw.

 

“She’s hungry,” Power says, helpfully. “We have no more cat food.”

 

“I’ll buy some,” Denji replies. He forces his tired muscles to move so he can stand, stretch, walk over to the door. “I’ll get sushi, too,” he adds, and the resulting cheer brings a smile to his face.

 


 

Things get better. Slowly, really slowly, but they do. He and Power take the trash bags out, get the apartment (kind of) clean. They kill some devils, small fries, hardly any casualties. Kobeni drops by from time to time, with a new car she bought using the money Aki left to her. It’s nicer than her old one, she says, though Denji can’t tell the damn difference.

 

He goes on that vacation after all, to a hot springs resort in Kyoto, though much to his chagrin Power keeps barging in at the worst possible moments. If he had a sister, this is exactly what it would be like, her messing up his date with the love of his life.

 

Still, he’s happy. Aki would be happy too, he thinks.

 

He’s just exiting the shower room when he sees Makima coming down the hall towards him. Her hair is wet and her resort-provided yukata is slightly open in the front, showing off creamy white skin. He gulps, face flushing. “M-Miss Makima! How was your, uh, bath?”

 

She smiles, that beautiful, calm, smile. A drop of water is slowly making its way down her neck, over her collarbone and towards her chest. Fuck, what Denji would give to be that water droplet.

 

“It was good, thank you. It looks like you’ve just come out of the bath yourself.”

 

“Uh, oh, yeah!” He laughs nervously, rubbing the back of his neck. “So, um, where are you headed?”

 

She chuckles, tilting her head. “Back to my room—do you want to join me?”

 

Her room——join her——Denji’s brain is just about short-circuiting with R-18 mental images when she adds, “I wanted to talk to you, so this is a good opportunity, wouldn’t you say?”

 

He barely processes the last part of her sentence. “Sure, yeah, I’ll come.”

 

Next thing he knows they’re standing outside the entrance to her room at the inn, but it’s—wrong, somehow. It’s not a sliding bamboo door like the ones all the other rooms have. It’s a familiar metal door, covered in papers, and Denji stops in his tracks. He blinks. The door is back to normal, just plain old bamboo.

 

Makima turns back to look at him, eyes questioning. “Is something wrong, Denji?”

 

“I—“ He swallows thickly. “N—“

 

Never open this door, Denji.

 

But...it was Aki’s smell at the door.

 

“…Um, actually, I’m not feeling too great right now. I think I’d better go check on Power, too, make sure she’s not messing up the place, haha.” The excuse sounds flimsy even to him as he backs up, Makima watching him with the same unreadable smile on her face, and suddenly he slams into something.

 

“Ow! What are you doing?!” Power glares at him, rubbing her forehead, and he feels so much relief that he actually pulls her into a hug. “What’s wrong with you?” She asks, but returns the hug, strong arms around his back.

 

“Nothing,” he says into the crook of her neck. “Let’s go back.”

 

“Okay." Power stretches and peers down the hallway when he releases her. “Who were you talking to?”

 

He doesn’t answer for a second, thinking about that door, and Makima’s familiar smile. He looks down the hallway again—empty.

 

“No one,” he says out loud. “Just some stupid hallucination.”

 


 

He opens the door to the smell of baked goods, and sniffs at the air eagerly. “What kinda fancy dessert did you get, Power?” He asks, pulling off his shoes and closing the door behind him as he strides into the kitchen, sniffing around for the source of the fragrance.

 

“It’s your cake, fool,” She says, shoving what is indeed a cake at him. It’s white, with strawberries and some suspicious looking brown and red bits at the top. “I put in jam bread too ‘cause you said you liked it.”

 

He doesn’t reply, just staring at the cake blankly, and Power licks her lips, looking hungrily at the dessert. “You better hurry up and eat it or I’m taking it all.”

 

That shakes him out of his reverie and he snatches the cake from her hands, ignoring the indignant "Hey!" That follows and pulling off a chunk of it with his hands. It tastes amazing; somehow the bread and jam actually make the cake sweeter instead of tasting like crap.

 

“Thanks, seriously,” he says genuinely, taking another huge bite. He dodges Power’s thieving hands and shakes his head, swallowing the piece he’d just chewed up. “Oi, this is my cake now, you can have the rest when I’m done with it.”

 

“But I bought it!” Power glowers at him, kicking a chair so hard one of the legs breaks, and plops down on the couch with a huff. Denji’s actually inclined to feel bad for her, for once.

 

“Fine, you can have half.” He doesn’t tell her he means the smaller half, which he’s dividing up now. “By the way, why’d you go buy me a cake all of a sudden? What’s the deal?”

 

“Huh?” She scrunches up her face, looking at him like one would a stupid dog, and replies, “It’s for your birthday, duh! It is all you’ve been talking about.”

 

He stops chewing mid-bite. “My birthday?” He doesn’t have a birthday. Hell, he doesn’t even know how old he actually is.

 

Power’s face is strained. Her eyes are wild, suddenly, like she’s trying to tell him something, but she doesn’t get the chance before he hears a cheerful “Bang!” And Power’s body explodes, blood and guts splattering on the wall.

 

The cake falls to the ground.

 


 

“Denji,” a familiar voice says. “Denji, wake up.”

 

He blinks, rubbing his eyes. His head is in Makima’s lap, and for an instant he feels complete bliss, and then he remembers.

 

“Po...wer?” He croaks out. He looks around wildly, not seeing any trace of familiar pink hair or red horns.

 

Makima hands him some water, wiping the tears off his face. Tears?

 

“Oh, don’t you remember, Denji?” She asks with a gentle sigh. “You killed her.”

 

“I...killed her?” His head is swimming, already his dream (was it really a dream?) is fading, and he feels dull. Numb. He drinks the water but doesn’t feel any better. “Why?”

 

“She went out of control, so you did your job as a member of the public security bureau. Not to worry, we’ll take care of the cleanup.” She pats his head. “You asked to become my dog, didn’t you? Are you saying you don’t trust me?”

 

Denji wants to say something, anything. But he doesn’t know what. He can’t remember why he feels nauseous, sick even. He can’t remember anything.

 

“Woof,” is what comes out of his mouth instead. Makima smiles.

 

“Good boy.”