The days wore on, and I slowly became used to Alicia’s presence.
During the first day after we were attacked by Xaphan, it was kind of tough on both of us, I think. She kept asking me if there was anything she could do to help out around the apartment, and I kept telling her not to worry. After that first day, she went up to me and said point blank that she wanted to be useful. There was nothing worse than not being allowed to help out according to her. After hearing her argument, I relented.
Things became easier after that.
We worked out a routine. Every morning, I would wake up early and make us breakfast. She’d wake up about half an hour after me and set the table… which was really just the kotatsu. I didn’t have enough space for an actual table. We’d walk to school after eating, get through our classes, come home, and then do homework for about an hour before finding something fun to do.
Fun generally consisted of either watching anime, old American shows that became popular in Japan, reading manga, or discussing Alicia’s favorite manga.
I learned a lot about Alicia during our time together. She loved watching anime and old American movies, playing video games, and reading manga. At her old home, she had a massive collection of various paraphernelia. Her favorite actress was Audrey Hepburn, but her favorite anime/manga was High School DxD. She could quote every line Audrey and Rias Gremory said. I didn’t know how she could like two such vastly different personality types. Then again, I didn’t get a lot of things since I had never watched much TV until now, so I don’t think it was my fault.
Outside of watching TV and reading manga, Alicia loved to explore. She hadn’t done so before we met because, well, I guess she hadn’t felt it was safe to do so. She was never clear on that point. I was merely told that it wasn’t something she’d been able to do. Now, however, she took every chance she could to get us outside and into the more crowded parts of Saitama.
Of course, this also caused a lot of trouble.
Alicia wouldn’t explore the town unless I was with her. She told me that I needed to get out more. Sadly, this wasn’t the best idea.
“Hey, Alicia, I really think it would be better if we went home,” I tried to say as Alicia pulled me along.
She looked at me from over her shoulder and frowned. “Look… I know you’re not comfortable being around people because you’re a Nephalem and all that, but I don’t think you should seclude yourself from people either. Maybe if people actually saw that you were harmless, they wouldn’t be so inclined to unjustly hate you.”
I disregarded the fact that no one would ever see me as “harmless” and focused on the other reason I wanted to leave. “That’s not it. I just think we’re drawing too much attention to ourselves.”
Alicia slowed down and looked around. We were in Cocoon City, a popular shopping mall within Saitama. It was a strangely shaped building with lots of curves to its design, and it served as both an outside and inside mall. With three-stories to its name and walkways connecting it to adjacent buildings across the street, it looked like a place that would get a lot of traffic, and indeed, there were a lot of people walking through the mall that day.
Which was the problem.
On my own, I attracted a lot of attention. People noticed me. It wasn’t just my “yankee” appearance. It was also my presence. Humans might try to act civilized, but they were still animals, and like all animals, they had a sixth sense. Just like how people could tell when they’re being watched, humans could sense danger.
My presence all but screamed danger to them.
Now here I was, walking around in a crowded mall with a bunch of people while all but verbally shouting “I’m dangerous!” at the top of my lungs, but I was also with someone.
Alicia attracted a different kind of attention than me. Every person she walked passed turned their head to stare at her. Several people stopped where they stood and gawked. One poor sap even tripped and fell into a fountain.
Needless to say, she attracted a lot of attention, and when combined with the kind of trouble that I attracted, it created unfortunate situations.
“Now that you mention it, we do seem to be getting a lot of unwanted attention, don’t we?” Alicia’s frown deepened. She seemed confused at first, but then she looked at several of the men in our vicinity, and, like a light bulb turning on, it clicked. “Ah… so that’s why they’re staring. Father always told me that men can be pigs, but I never believed him until now.”
“You can’t really blame them,” I said mildly. I wasn’t defending them, not really. I just understood where they were coming from.
My words seemed to have an affect. Alicia smiled, and her cheeks turned a mild rosy shade that complimented her complexion. “No, I guess not. Thank you.”
“Never mind.” She shook her head. “Let’s keep going.”
It was after school, and Alicia had told me that she wanted to go out for ice cream. I didn’t have the heart to say no. Of course, had I known she’d be taking me to a gigantic mall with thousands of people, I might have refused.
Oddly enough, the place we went to, Baskin Robins, didn’t turn me away, though the looks the employees sent, which reminded me of someone’s face after having rotten eggs shoved under their nose, was not pleasant. I ended up getting a hot fudge sundae with a brownie. Alicia chose cookie dough with a lot of whip cream, strawberry sauce, and sprinkles. Once we had paid for and received our ice cream, Alicia led me to a small table that seated two.
I stared at my ice cream.
“Is something wrong?” Alicia asked.
“Not really.” Shaking my head, I hesitantly grabbed the spoon. “I’m just surprised.”
Alicia’s grin said that she knew something I didn’t. “You shouldn’t be. I don’t know much about human culture, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that places like this can’t afford to be rude to their customers. If that place had denied you ice cream, and you caused a fuss, even if everyone around is afraid of you, it’ll damage their reputation, which will in turn hurt their business. They don’t want that.”
“That makes a lot of sense.” I took a bite of the ice cream. For just a moment, I felt like crying. It was easily the most wonderful thing I ever tasted.
“Father and Matilda taught me a lot about politics. While politics are different than business, every politician learns how to manipulate people into agreeing with your opinion by knowing how people think. Humans and devils aren’t much different in how we think, despite being a different species.”
“That sounds pretty machiavellian,” I said.
Alicia shrugged. “It’s also true.”
While we were enjoying our meal, several people plucked up some courage and walked up to us. A shadow appeared over our table. Then a voice said, “hey, babe. What are you doing with a yank like this?”
I looked up. Three people surrounded our table. None of them were what I would call regular teenagers. Actually, I don’t even think they were teenagers. All of them were tall, scraggly, had various piercings, and a few tattoos. Their clothing was baggy and their pants sagged to the point where I questioned how they were even staying on. One had a pompadour hair-cut, another had a mohawk, and the one in front of us looked like someone had taken a razor to his head.
Alicia ignored them; she continued eating her ice cream as if they weren’t there.
That seemed to make them angry. An angry vein pulsed on their foreheads, throbbing a deep, dark scarlet.
“Hey, bitch. I’m talking to you.” The mouthpiece, the one whose head looked like it had been decimated by razors, placed his foot on the table.
Alicia looked at the booted foot, frowned, and then glared at the man said foot was attached to. “Take your foot off the table.”
The mouthpiece smiled. “Do I have your attention now? Good. Then why don’t you ditch this piece of shit and come with us. We can show you a better time than him.”
“I doubt that,” Alicia said. “Now remove your foot.”
“Or what? Are you gonna remove it for me?”
While the mouthpiece’s two friends laughed, I was looking at Alicia. Her face had turned a rather interesting shade of red. It wasn’t the red blush I was used to seeing. It was more like an angry fire truck red. I also noticed a rather prominent vein popping out on her forehead. And then, as though something had snapped inside of her, Alicia smiled.
Alicia placed her hand on the man’s foot. I felt the smallest trace of demonic energy flowing into her arms. Then, without a word of warning, she stood up, lifted the man by his foot, and began to spin. She spun and spun and spun, and the man screamed and screamed and screamed, and then she let go.
The man went flying; he flew through the air for several meters before smashing into several tables, tumbling along the ground like a ragdoll, and eventually ramming with near bone crunching force into a wall. He didn’t get up.
“Big bro!!!” his two friends shouted as they ran over to their friend.
Alicia sat back down and began eating her ice cream again. I glanced at the people sitting at their tables all around us. They were staring at Alicia with a kind of “I have no clue what just happened, but I’m scared” look. I recognized this look because it’s one I received quite a bit. Now these gazes were being directed at the girl next to me instead of me.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
Then I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.
“Alicia?” I said.
“Yes?” Alicia asked as she continued to leisurely eat her ice cream.
“I think we should leave.”
“Why? Those people won’t bother us anymore.”
“That isn’t the problem.”
“Then what is the problem?”
“Mall security is coming this way. It looks like they’re armed.”
Alicia paused in her eating. She looked at where I was looking, saw that, indeed, there were several mall security guards headed this way, and then returned to her ice cream.
“Oh,” she said as she finished her ice cream and stood up. “Then I guess that means we should leave.”
“Yes, it does.”
I stood up as well, and together, she and I ran out of the mall. We ended up outrunning five mall security guards, two golf carts, and one police car. Needless to say, I had learned my lesson by the time we arrived home.
Never take Alicia to the mall. She caused even more trouble than I did.