Kobeni had been partnered with Violence Fiend for a while now. He was friendly and kind, and even took her out for food after many missions together. They talked and would laugh together, and Kobeni felt like they were growing really close.
“Ah, hey Violence…” Kobeni said one day. “Would, um… Would it be okay if I saw your face under that mask?”
“Well, my body gives off poison, so it's not safe for humans to be around me unless I’m wearing this mask.”
“Ah. Right. Sorry.” Kobeni said. She remembered him saying that before, when she had asked him something similar.
“Don’t apologize, it’s alright.” Violence said, shrugging. “It doesn’t bother me. I don’t mind wearing a mask as long as it keeps innocent people safe. I’m a fiend about Peace and Love, remember?” He made a peace sign.
Kobeni giggled. “Right.”
The wording of Violence’s answer didn’t leave Kobeni’s head. He didn’t seem to mind the idea of showing Kobeni his face. He only said that it wouldn’t be safe for her.
An idea popped into her head, and so when she had free time, she asked around at the Bureau Office if she could borrow a certain item.
“Ah, hey, Violence! Is it okay if I see your face now?” Kobeni asked, after she finally worked up the nerve to ask him again.
“I told you before, Kobeni,” He answered gently, “It’s not safe for you!”
“Ah, no! I-it’ll be okay! I have a gas mask! See!” She quickly held up the mask, but nearly dropped it. After a bit of fumbling she regained her grip on it and then properly held it up for him to see.
Violence just stared. Kobeni started sweating nervously.
“...Alright.” Violence finally said.
“Ah!” Kobeni smiled, and quickly slipped her mask on. “Okay! I’m ready!”
“Hold on.” Violence closed the distance between them, and gently reached out to her head. He checked her mask — the straps, how tight it was, and made sure she could properly see and breathe — and only then did he sit down beside her.
Violence removed his hood, and then gripped his mask. “Alright. Ready?”
“Ready!” Kobeni nodded.
So Violence pulled off his plague doctor mask, revealing a man’s face with slicked back hair and two sets of blank, white eyes.
“Ah!” Kobeni said.
Violence turned his head, and closed both pairs of eyes. “Sorry…”
“Huh?” Kobeni tilted her head, confused. She was always the one saying sorry. She rarely heard others say it to her. What was there for Violence to be sorry for?
Violence blindly reached out, taking her hand gently and squeezing comfortingly. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I should have warned you. I’m sorry.”
“Ah!” Kobeni exclaimed in realization, and then awkwardly giggled at her reflexive use of that word once again. “Sorry, it’s a force of habit! You didn’t do anything wrong! I’m not scared! I was just… surprised. All fiends look so different, I had no idea what to expect.”
Violence opened his eyes again and turned back to face her. “You’re not scared of me?”
Kobeni shook her head, for once feeling confident and at ease. It felt nice.
And then the guilt hit her again. “...Wait, should I be?”
A Devil’s power increased the more humans feared it. Should she be afraid of him? Was she hurting him by not being afraid? Offending him? Angering him?
“No, no!” Violence cried. “I— I’m glad.”
His lips curled, and it was the first time Kobeni saw him smile.
“Good, then.” Kobeni said, her heart fluttering upon seeing him with a smile. After a life of anxiety and fear, it was so odd that for once the fluttering sensation felt enjoyable.
Violence leaned in and hugged her, and Kobeni just froze and blinked for a few moments. And then she awkwardly wrapped her arms around him, and hugged the Fiend back. He was gentle and felt warm, so she allowed herself to melt into the embrace and relax.
And it was in that moment, that it finally hit her. He cared about her, and they were friends.