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The Glitch

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Over many eons, there had been numerous timelines that repeated and recreated themselves without fail. Different universes had been created, different realities visited and destroyed, all for the sake of a punishment laid down by God himself. God’s intention had originally been for a singular timeline and event to repeat itself over and over again, and while initially it had, slips in time occurred. Things changed. Somewhere along the line, someone would make a single change—a single mistake—and the entirety of the timeline would go off the rails. God had seen it happen more than enough times for him to count, and had allowed it to happen.

Thus, there was the creation of multiple universes and different realities. Some so very similar to each other, while others varied greatly. There was never any indication of how any one universe and any one timeline within it would go about its events, but there was always one thing that connected them all; the one thing that always remained the same no matter what: failure. Tragedy. That was his son’s punishment after all, to repeat the cycle of failure, loss, and tragedy for all eternity. He held no sympathy for the fallen angel, and would allow his endless cycle to continue the creation of as many universes and realities as it took. No one defied him as Lucifer once had, and no matter the results of such an endless time loop as this, the punishment would remain.

Even at that very moment, infinite timelines were beginning to repeat themselves, with the occasional new universe or reality following along behind them. One timeline in particular appeared to be following the usual turn of events—that is to say, the original events that began this madness. God had better things to do in his realm of creation though, and wouldn’t bother to follow the events of a story he had seen more than enough times in his endless existence. Even if something were to change, it wasn’t as though it could possibly impact the timeline enough to create a new reality or universe as he had seen numerous times before.

So, God moved on to better, more important things, leaving the timeline to itself.

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Miki Makimura had seen a lot of things in her life. Or, at least she liked to think she had. There had been more than enough times in her life that she had to stand up and fight, not just for herself, but for Akira as well. In their childhood, Akira had been such a meek, nonassertive guy, and bullying was to be expected. So, Miki took it upon herself to protect him. You didn’t gain a name like “Miki the Hands” without such a reason. Admittedly, she never enjoyed the tough protector role, always having a secret wish to be the damsel in distress for once, but she liked Akira, and their friendship was worth it. So what if she had gained a reputation as some rebellious tomboy?

People, for the most part, left her alone, and Akira had usually been safe when in her presence. Still, she couldn’t have explained the absolute relief and joy she had felt the day that Akira had done a complete one-eighty and beat the crap out of Dosu-Roku and his gang, protecting her for once. Finally, she could be the happy, plucky girl that she had always wanted to be. She could have the one moment of damsel-ness that she always secretly wanted. Akira, the sweet boy he had always been, was standing up for himself and being all around cool, something she never thought she’d use to describe him.

For a good while later, she sometimes wondered what had caused such a change in Akira. The old Akira wasn’t completely gone, no. He would become flustered whenever she tried to give him a hard time. He would still play all of those dorky games with Tare when asked, and still seemed to thoroughly enjoy doing so. He just had a cool, tough exterior to go along with that dorkiness, and he wasn’t afraid to pick a fight when needed. It was an odd combination to say the least, but Miki liked it. It was almost like she actually had someone on her level to relate to (never mind the fact that Akira had far exceeded her level in the span of a day).

With everything that had happened recently, Miki should have been able to say that she was happy with her almost-relationship with Akira, but she just couldn’t. There was one glaring issue standing between them, and how Akira didn’t see it was beyond her. He was so dense sometimes! There was a relationship. To Akira, it probably looked like a relationship between himself and Miki, but Miki knew better. It was a relationship between herself, Akira, and their third wheel.

Miki wasn’t dumb, and was leagues more perceptive than her idiot of an almost-boyfriend, Akira. Ryo Asuka had a massive crush on his best friend, and Akira was so, so blind to it. Whenever Miki thought she was getting closer to Akira, one step closer to having one of them ask each other out (and it wasn’t going to be her. Nope. She was tired of being the assertive one), Akira would back away. He would back away, and somehow the reason always had something to do with Ryo. Miki’s showing off a cool pendant to Akira and joking around with him in earnest? Akira runs off because of Ryo…somehow. Walking down the street and to the park on a pseudo-date? Gotta find Ryo. It was astounding really.

At first, Miki had been admittedly jealous of Akira and Ryo’s relationship. All Ryo had to do was show up and ask for Akira, and Akira would jump at the call and follow him without question. Nevermind Miki standing right next to him, hanging out with him on their planned outing. As it continued on though, she lost interest in what little jealousy she had. It was odd to admit such a thing, but that was what happened.

Ryo had always been strange, and to that day Miki was always confused by the situation that brought him and Akira together. Despite Akira and Miki being childhood friends, Akira had obviously gone to a different school than she did before they began high school. That was how he met his best friend. According to Akira, Ryo had always been shy, but when Miki first met him, it seemed less like he was shy and more like he was antisocial and aggressive. His attitude had been frightening to those around him, resulting in him having very little friends. It probably didn’t help that he suffered similar bullying issues to Akira (though he was bullied over his pretty boy looks, not over having a nonassertive attitude), so perhaps that was where the antisocial part of him stemmed from? Miki hadn’t known him well enough back then to say for sure. Either way, Akira had befriended him out of pity (from what Miki gathered, he had practically forced his friendship onto the boy, surprisingly), and from there they quickly became attached to each other.

Over the years, Ryo had mellowed out considerably. He still had moments where everything about him just felt off, but that could have been from pure social awkwardness and his previously aggressive attitude. Whenever he was over, he avoided eye contact with Miki’s parents and tried to be as polite as possible. That was pure shyness right there, but then he would turn around and play the same dorky games with Tare that Akira did. Those three got along famously, and the dorkier side of Ryo had not been something Miki had been expecting.

It didn’t take long for Miki to figure out Ryo’s little crush. As the years went on and Ryo and Akira continued to get closer and closer, it was so painfully obvious. It explained why he only truly opened up to Akira, despite sometimes being seen around others such as Dosu-Roku and his gang. It also explained his unhidden distaste for Miki herself. While Miki had started off jealous of Ryo, she knew that he was jealous of her, too. They both liked and were close to the same guy after all, so it was natural, she supposed. Unlike Miki though, whose jealousy faded away after some realization, Ryo’s dislike of her never truly went away. He tried to be civil towards her, but avoided her whenever possible. That was it, really.

Ryo, Miki wanted to believe, was a problem, but saying such a thing felt almost wrong. She liked Akira, she really did, and while she always gave him a hard time, she did want him to be happy. As such, if she and Akira finally got together, it wouldn’t feel right. They’d get together, and Miki would never be able to shake the feeling that she was cutting Akira off from something very important to him. Would she be comfortable giving him up just to keep Ryo around, though? Conceited as it sounded, she knew she was important to Akira as well, and if he and Ryo got together, then Ryo would be cutting Akira off from something important to him. So, the three of them held together their tentative relationship of almost-boyfriend, almost-girlfriend, and romantic third wheel.

Miki really truly wanted a relationship with Akira though, and wasn’t happy with their current setup. How could she solve their dilemma, though? It wasn’t as though three people could date each other. That was taboo, wasn’t it? Then again, who ever said anything about them was normal? Miki was an aggressive, protective girl who wanted nothing more than to be protected herself; Ryo was a strange, antisocial man who felt off in every way imaginable; and Akira was part demon for crying out loud!

Yes, Miki knew Akira was a Devilman. She quickly found out after being nearly drowned by a demon herself. Akira had rescued her, despite her initial fear that he had been possessed by a demon and out to kill her. He had then been grabbed by the pretty demon with wings on her head and taken away, leaving a half-conscious Miki to worry herself half to death about his safety. The next day, everything had seemingly gone back to normal. The damage to her house was gone, and both Tare and her parents were acting as though nothing had happened. She confronted Akira about the issue, and everything had come out, Akira in near relief as he told the tale.

So yes, she knew about Akira’s fusion with a demon—a powerful demon at that!—and she accepted it. She accepted everything about him. He was her savior after all. He protected her from Dosu-Roku’s gang, and now demons themselves! The longer things went on, the cooler and stronger Akira got. The fact that she knew everything, though, felt wrong. She would look at Tare and her parents, thinking back to how they had forgotten everything from that night, and have this inherent feeling of wrongness wash over her. She supposed that she wasn’t meant to remember. From what Akira had assumed, the demons might have erased her parents’ and Tare’s memories in order to keep their existence secret. With that in mind, she really shouldn’t have remembered anything, and yet here they were.

This was where Miki met her current dilemma. Demons were threatening mankind, and Akira was humanity’s savior in the form of Devilman. Despite this, she couldn’t stop thinking about how to make their trio happier. It hadn’t ever felt like such a problem before, but now humanity’s existence was hanging in the balance and there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it. Akira fought off the demons as one himself, and Ryo had the knowledge (and weaponry) to at least assist in the fighting. What could Miki do? Sit back and look pretty at home. Yes, she wanted to be the girl with a badass boyfriend who could protect her, losing that rebellious tomboy image, but in the end she was still Miki the Hands. She refused to take anyone’s shit and dished out just as much in return.

At the rate things were going, she’d be more of a nuisance than anything if she tried to fight alongside Akira and Ryo. Protecting Ryo was already proving a handful, if the many times Akira ran out after him was any indication. Having to protect her on top of that would likely be too much, especially when she couldn’t give anything back in return like Ryo could. That being said, how could she help out without unintentionally making Akira’s life more difficult?

She had been thinking about these things since she first discovered and accepted Akira’s secret as a Devilman. As always, she kept returning to the same solution over and over again. Akira would be happier if he and Miki started a relationship. She couldn’t necessarily help on the battlefield, but Akira did still have a life outside of fighting demons. Unfortunately, if she and Akira started a relationship, Akira’s relationship with Ryo would become strained, and Miki didn’t want that. That would do the opposite of what she wanted, which was to make Akira’s life happier and easier. If she was somehow able to get Akira’s dense ass in a relationship with Ryo though, the same issue would arise.

Miki was a little bit selfish, and she accepted that about herself. She didn’t want to live a life without Akira, and she knew having him be in a relationship with Ryo with cause problems between herself and Akira. That left the third option, which was a three-way relationship: Akira gets together with both Miki and Ryo. Once again, same as always, she had to remind herself that a polygamous relationship was not normal, at least not in many peoples’ eyes. It was an uncomfortable thought, not fitting the norm, but again, none of them fit the norm in the first place. Miki the tomboy, Akira the Devilman, and Ryo, who liked guys. What was a polyamorous relationship on top of all of that? If someone tried to give them a hard time over it, all three of them could easily kick that person’s ass. Ryo wasn’t above threatening people with guns of all things either, so yeah. They could pull it off.

The issue, as always, was Ryo himself. Ryo didn’t like Miki, and Miki had never put much effort into getting along with him. If Akira was going to get with the both of them, Miki wanted to at least make a relationship work between herself and Ryo as well. She supposed it didn’t have to be that way, but she didn’t want the strain and tension that she knew would forever be between the two of them.

Thinking more about it, Miki could totally date Ryo. He was pretty, she would always freely admit that. With as much as he tried to act cold and serious, he was just as big of a socially awkward dork as Akira was, so there was some familiarity there. Really, the only issue was their sexual compatibility. Would Ryo even be interested in dating a girl? Did he only have eyes for other boys? Would he only accept Akira?

Well, only thinking about it would get her nowhere, and those two idiots she was planning on dating weren’t ever going to get anywhere on their own, so it wouldn’t hurt to try. She had her sights set on something—something that could potentially make all three of them happy—and she would try like hell to make it work out. It didn’t even take her long to figure out the first step in accomplishing her goal. She liked Akira, Ryo liked Akira, and she knew if she put in the effort, she could come to like Ryo as well. The first step in her plan was to get Ryo to like her as well. That would be tricky, if not impossible, but Miki was nothing if not persistent.

That’s where she was now, as she stood at the corner of a building, trying to eavesdrop on a conversation between Ryo and Akira. When she had showed up at first to walk home with Akira, he had told her to wait and let him speak with Ryo first. Akira was irritated it seemed, so it wasn’t surprising that he had snapped at her when she had tried to rush him. Still, it gave her time to think, and it occurred to her that she could use this moment to get closer with Ryo. She had been thinking about the three of them together for almost a week now, and was fully invested in getting along with him.

From what she could gather from the two’s hushed conversation, Ryo had tried to confront a demon by himself, only to wake up on the street alone with little recollection of what had happened. Akira was scolding (possibly making fun of) him for attempting such a thing on his own, saying that he was lucky to be alive. Miki’s face held a mischievous smile at this. Akira was irritated, and she knew Ryo would be embarrassed and ashamed at his mistake. This was a definite opportunity.

“Akira, are you done yet?” Miki interrupted, bursting around the corner to join them.

“Miki, what did I—”

“I need to borrow Ryo, so hurry up!” she interrupted Akira yet again.

“Miki, I—wait what?” Akira paused, staring at her as though she had grown a second head.

Ryo stood in front of Akira, for once not giving her suspicious or annoyed side-eyed glances. Instead, he appeared equally thrown off by her declaration, because since when did Miki ever want to talk to Ryo?

Perhaps it was the shock of it all, or perhaps Ryo was just giving her the benefit of the doubt, but she somehow got him alone. They left Akira and went to sit in a small park, Ryo stiff and firmly not looking anywhere near her. It was uncomfortable, to say the least, and Miki wasn’t sure how to fix that. Well, she was good at one thing, that was for sure, and she mine as well work off of that. Just talk him into it. Talk him into being friendlier with her. She could do that.

“Alright,” she said, trying to hold back a sigh. “So, we both like Akira.”

Start it off blunt. Just thrust him right into it.

Ryo remained quiet, stiffening even more if that was possible.

“I love him to death, but he’s a dense moron. If you and I,” she jabbed a finger at Ryo, “don’t make the first move, then nothing will ever happen between any of us.”

There was a discrete swallow from Ryo, who finally decided to look at her. The look in his eyes was wary, though irritated.

“What are you trying to get at, Miki? I’m not going to fight with you over Akira.”

“You clearly weren’t listening,” she responded. “I said you and I need to make a move. Not just you, or me, but we. Do you get what I’m saying?” She gave him a cheeky smile, hoping he wasn’t as dense as Akira was. Otherwise she was going to have her work cut out for her.

Ryo raised a questioning eyebrow at her, the irritation in his eyes never fading. “You want us to both date Akira?”

“Now you’re getting it!” Miki clapped a hand on his shoulder, the rigidity in his body never fading. “Akira’s not going to be happy with just one of us, and you know it. But, if the both of us were to go out with him, don’t you think he’d be just the happiest guy ever?”

Ryo looked away, bringing his shoulders up in an attempt to hide his face. Miki’s mischievous smile only widened at that as she pulled her hand away. He wasn’t going to admit to his crush on Akira, but she knew.

“Akira doesn’t like men,” was Ryo’s only response.

“Seriously? I said he was dense. People think guys liking other guys is weird, but they also think a relationship with three people is weird. Akira, as cool and tough as he’s gotten lately, is a goody two shoes who needs a reality check. You’re both off trying to save the world and whatnot, and yet we all have this awkward normal life going on between us. You and I,” Miki gestured between them, getting his attention again, “need to work some sense into him. You don’t like me because Akira likes me, but honestly, I don’t mind you, and if you’re up to it, we could live a happy life together with Akira. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.”

“You’re saying this like it’s that easy. You and I don’t even get along.”

Miki resisted the urge to groan. She knew he was going to be difficult. Unfortunately, getting through to Ryo was going to be leagues easier than getting through Akira’s thick skull. They needed their combined efforts to get through to that man.

You purposefully try not to get along with me! I’m open to it!” She threw her hands up in the air. “Would you even be open to trying? You and I are stuck together thanks to Akira. We don’t need to make it so hard on ourselves.”

Ryo remained silent, putting a hand to his head. Miki wasn’t sure what he was thinking at the moment, and despite what she was saying, she didn’t think he’d agree with her so easily. She was prepared to fight for his friendship.

As Miki opened her mouth to say something else, Ryo raised his head back up and gave her an uncertain look. “Alright,” he began, much to Miki’s surprise, “I can try to get along with you better. The whole dating thing though, I’m not so sure about that.”

“Right, I mean, you like Akira. I like Akira too, but I’m open to being with you. For Akira’s sake, you know,” she immediately added.

“So we wouldn’t include anyone else?”

“Akira doesn’t like anyone else like he likes us. I can tell you that much. You and I are like the two most important people in his life.” This time she finally sighed. “Besides, I want to help you guys. You’re both off risking your lives against all of these demons, and I’m stuck at home being useless. It’s so, well, cliché.” She paused, putting a finger to her chin. “Well, playing the matchmaker girlfriend is also kind of cliché, but maybe I’m just that kind of person.” Another sigh. “Whatever!” She turned to Ryo, putting her hands to his still tense shoulders. “You and me? Friends, right?”

He put a hand to one of Miki’s wrists, likely to remove the hand from his shoulder, but stopped. “I don’t think friendship works that way.”

“Well, Akira told me that’s the only way he was able to befriend you, so I’m going with it. Forced friendship!”

“And forced dating?”

“Only if you’re into that.”

Gaze firmly stuck on Miki’s hand on his shoulder, Ryo appeared to be contemplating the issue.

“Akira’s the only person I’ve ever really befriended.”

“Yeah, I kind of got that,” Miki deadpanned, grip on his shoulders tightening. “But, you have me, the expert in all things people related! You’ll be best friends with me in no time, alright? Just put some effort into it and stop being so pissy at me for liking Akira!”

Ryo agreed. Somehow Miki got him to agree with little resistance whatsoever, and needless to say, she was thrilled. This would begin what she hoped would be a beautiful relationship. Granted, she still had no idea if Ryo was solely into guys or not, but he never brought that issue up. No, it was the fact that Akira wasn’t into guys that he brought up instead, and that gave Miki hope. Akira was dense. He would be happy with Ryo, so she knew the whole “straight” issue was not actually an issue. Once she figured out if she could make a friendship between herself and Ryo work, she’d proceed onto phase two of her little plot: start a relationship with Ryo Asuka, and then get Akira Fudo to join in. Perhaps it was a bit unorthodox, but she had a feeling she could make it work. She was Miki Makimura after all, and she knew those two idiots better than they knew themselves. A three-way relationship? Piece of cake.