292 – A Legendary Christmas Party
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Back in the Maji Toraki udon shop, a lively party was underway as trained professionals relaxed with some alcohol and good food to celebrate Christmas Eve.

While Kiri and Saji chatted with a pair of American secret agents over some karaoke and alcohol, Maji stood behind the countertop and served some drinks up to three guys.

The first was a blonde pretty boy with a lithe body. Looked a bit like Maji's Boss too, but a lot more wimpy. Not in the physical sense. Those guys had similar builds, but the blonde guy gave off an emo loner vibe. Like he was acting tough instead of John's casual 'I will literally end your existence' vibe when he got serious.

Though considering John was an extradimensional being playing at being human, that made sense.

Anyway, that was the first guy.

The second was a tall foreigner with long and silky silver hair. Enough that he could be mistaken as a woman from the back, if not for his completely chiseled body and clear V shaped torso. Though, considering how his face was slightly effeminate, it didn't help that much.

And the last was a young Japanese man with hair that had gone gray early. His skin was a bit tanned and his eyes were a steely gray color. Like the other two, his body was trained as well, honed muscles visible through his jacket.

Maji poured himself a glass of beer and then looked over at the three guys seated across from him. "So mercenaries, huh?"

The blonde guy shook his head, sipping on a mug of foamy beer. He winced at the taste and then set it down. After that, he looked at Maji and said, "Not mercenary. Soldier."

The silver-haired foreigner chuckled and took a big gulp from his beer. Looking at the blonde guy, he smirked and said, "Still a child, I see."

"Shut up, Seth." The blonde soldier glared back and said, "I'm just... used to classier stuff."

Seth chuckled again and then looked at Maji. "Excuse Claus. He's going through a phase-"

"It is *not* a-" Claus stopped talking and then just glared at Seth. After that, he went back to drinking his beer.

Maji smirked and said, "Don't worry. I know this ain't the good stuff, so I'm not offended. But a soldier used to classy alcohol..." He sipped on his beer and said, "Must've known a good bartender, eh? Or did you just make that much money to get the good stuff?"

Claus looked at Maji and then frowned. Taking a long drink from his beer, he muttered, "Both."

Seeing that he wasn't planning on saying anything else, Maji turned to the last guy. "What about you? Ex-soldier too?"

Seigi smiled and said, "No. You had it right." He took a long drink from his beer and then sighed. "I'm a mercenary for hire. Right now though, I'm just a young girl's bodyguard."

"Mm." Maji took another swig from his beer and said, "Escort jobs aren't the worst. Gotta keep some distance from your charge though." He muttered and then reached over to rub his shoulder.

Seth glanced at Claus and said, "You would know all about that, wouldn't you, Claus?"

"Shut up." Claus glared at Seth and said, "Even if you aren't a genocidal maniac now, we aren't friends."

"I'm hurt, Claus." Seth placed a hand over his chest and said, "What about our precious memories together?"

"You should have just stayed there in those memories, Seth. You should have done that and just rotted away." Claus scowled and drained his beer. After that, he waved his cup to Maji and said, "Barkeep. More."

Seth chuckled and then finished his beer as well. Looking at Maji, he said, "Some more would be good, Mister Maji."

Maji took the glasses and said, "Just call me Maji. And we're fresh outta beer, but since your friend wanted some of the good stuff..." He reached behind the counter and pulled out a bottle of red wine, along with some wine glasses. He poured out some for both Claus and Seth before setting the bottle down on the table.

"Hn." Claus took his wine and then sipped on it.

Seth shook his head.

Seigi smirked and then looked over at Maji. "So you work for John too, right?"

"Meh." Maji drained his beer and then started pouring himself a glass of wine. "Boss mostly left us to our own devices, so it's more like former employees. Though he never did say we were fired, so... technically." He paused and said, "But you guys work for Boss too?"

Claus shrugged. "Dunno. Seth just dragged me along on this job. Not a bad gig though." He sipped on his wine and then said, "Keep an eye on a girl. Beat the crap out of stalkers. Just that and we get paid a boatload of cash and free time to do whatever."

Seth sipped on his wine and looked at Claus. "Time to play Santa with the children, right?"

"Wh- H-Hey!" Claus glared at Seth and said, "Were you stalking me again?"

Seth chuckled and said, "I have to keep an eye on my subordinate. It's the least I could do after your captain left you in my care."

"Have you never heard of personal space?"

"What's that?"

"Ugh." Claus rubbed his temple and muttered, "Maybe I should have retired. Being a barkeep doesn't sound too bad now that I have to deal with this creep."

Seth tilted his head and said, "I take offense to that. All I ever wanted to do was prevent global warming from destroying the world."

"...I'm not even going to bother responding to that."

"You just did."

Claus pointedly turned around in his chair to look at the others doing karaoke.

Seth chuckled and went back to nursing on his drink.

Seigi shook his head and looked at Maji. "Sorry for bothering you guys. Takashi mentioned that we could get some good food and relax here, so we thought we'd take a look."

Maji waved his hand. "Don't worry about it, Kid. We were just gonna sit around and drink anyway."

Seigi blinked. "Kid? Heh." He shook his head. "Been a while since someone called me that."

"Then you need to get out more." Maji sipped on his wine and said, "Youth doesn't last. You don't want to wrack up a lifetime of regrets, you know?"

"Bit late for that... but I appreciate it." Seigi smiled and then went back to drinking.

Maji glanced over at the other visitors. He pointed his chin towards them and said, "So what's up with those two? Mercenaries too?"

Seigi shrugged. "Apparently they're special forces from America. COMET or something."

Claus looked over and said, "It's a stupid name."

Seth chuckled and said, "Coming from a group who called themselves Eruption, that's hilarious."

"It wasn't my idea." Claus grumbled and went back to nursing his drink.

Maji raised an eyebrow. "Eruption, eh?"

Claus groaned. "I hate you, Seth."

"A pity." Seth sipped on his wineglass and said, "I am always by your side."

"I will END you."

"You have tried."

Maji looked between Claus and Seth and the looked at Seigi.

He sighed and said, "Ignore them. They're... weird about each other."



"Cheers!" Alphy smiled and raised her glass up.

Clinks echoed through the air as Rin, Sakura, and Asako toasted their glasses with her.

It was dark now. Late Christmas Eve.

After putting on some Christmas music, the members of Prototype and Sakura were starting a small party of their own.

Cutely decorated cakes, fresh fried chicken, some wine and some sparkling juices for Rin... It was a neat and tidy party for the four of them.

At the moment, they were sitting around the dining table, each with a full glass.

Alphy giggled and sat down, sipping on her drink. "This is so much fun. Hanging around like this and just relaxing..." She smiled and said, "It's nice."

Rin nodded, sipping on a glass of sparkling wine. "It really is! Mom and I usually spend Christmas alone, so it's fun having more people around! Especially since I had to spend last Christmas by myself."

Sakura winced. "I'm sorry about that, Sweetie..."

Rin shook her head. "It's fine, Mom. You were busy and we didn't have any money... But now we do, so every Christmas can be like this! Plus!" She looked at Asako and said, "I have a big sister now to spend time with too!"

Alphy shook her head and said, "Two big sisters, Rin." She smiled and said, "I'm your Onee-chan too."

"Oh." Rin nodded. "Right. Especially whenever Aneue decides to-"

"SIS!" Asako glared at Rin, her face red.

"What?" Rin stared at Asako with wide and innocent eyes. "I wasn't going to say anything."

Asako kept glaring at Rin.

Alphy smiled.

Sakura laughed and then shook her head. Sipping on her wine, she looked between Rin and Asako and said, "Barely a couple of months and it's like you two have been sisters all your life." She smiled and said, "I'm glad. That bastard ruined my life... but it's good to see you two happy."

Asako looked at Sakura and her gaze softened. "Sakura nee-chan..."

"Nope." Sakura crossed her arms and said, "I'm stopping that right now."

"H-Huh?" Asako blinked.

Sakura shook her head and said, "Either call me Sakura or... Well, I guess calling me mom would be weird." She mumbled and said, "Just Sakura then. Or Auntie. Getting called nee-chan by my daughter's sister is weird." She paused and then said, "And that's weird too. Huh. Never thought about it like that..." She shrugged and then took another sip from her wine. Looking at Asako, she said, "Whatever the case, we're family and all we've got left. So no being strangers, got it?"

Asako smiled. "Got it, Sakura... Um, Auntie."

Sakura froze.

Asako blinked. "W-What?"

Sakura shook her head and said, "Nothing. But anyway." She looked at Alphy and said, "Thanks for being here, Alphy. And for helping me cook too. God knows those two are useless."

Rin huffed. "Hey! I can cook!"

Sakura rolled her eyes. "You've got the enthusiasm, Sweetie. But anything you touch that doesn't involve knives somehow turns into a complete disaster." She frowned and then pointed at Rin. "And no more sashimi streams."

"What? Why!?"

"Because I'm still picking up scales all over the place from the fish you descaled."

"O-Oh. W-W-Well... What about Aneue, huh?" Rin pointed at Asako and said, "She got flour all over the place when she tried baking!"

Asako flinched. "That was *one* time! And I've given up on cooking, so it won't happen ever again."

Alphy frowned. "Really?" She placed her finger over her glass and started twirling it around the rim. "But I wanted to try your cake."

Asako's face turned bright red and she instinctively reached to her back. "C-Cake?"

Rin laughed and then pointed at Asako. "Aneue's a hentai~!"

"I-I'm not!" Asako turned her head to the side. "I-I just thought... I mean... Gah, I'm not drunk enough for this shit!" She grabbed a wine bottle and uncorked it, downing it straight.

And then she started coughing. "Gah! The hell?!" She looked at the label and then said, "This is sparkling wine!"

Sakura nodded. "Of course it is. I'm not having any wine near Sweetie's reach when she could sneak a glass without us looking. And stop that, Sweetie."

Rin froze, hand halfway towards a wine bottle hidden on the side. She looked up at Sakura and said, "Just a sip?"

"No. It's illegal, and you know that Uncle Takashi would be mad about it."

"But he's not a cop anymore, so it's fine! Besides, we're just at home! And I'm almost an adult!"

Sakura grabbed the wine bottle and refilled her glass. "Almost is not the same as actually being one. Now just eat your dinner and sweets. It's getting cold."


Alphy smiled, sipping on her wine.

This was nice. The comfortable and joyous atmosphere. The tasty food. The sweet wine and the warm flush she felt in her body when she drank some.

Alphy's smile widened and then she looked at everyone. "I love you all sooooo much."

Sakura blinked. "Alphy?"

She took another sip from her wine and then held out her arms, causing a bit to splash. "I love you thiiiiiiis much. And Asako, I love you lots lots lots too! And Rin is suuuuuper cute! *hic*" Alphy blinked, surprised by her hiccup. And then she giggled again.

Asako's eyes widened. "Oh god. You're drunk already?"

"Dwunk? Wassat?" Alphy sipped on the wine again and said, "Mm. This is super tasty. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside."

Rin blinked and looked at her mom. "Um. How strong is that wine, Mom?"

Sakura frowned. "Alphy should have sparkling wine...?"

Alphy finished her drink and then tried grabbing the bottle from Asako.

"H-Hey!" Asako's eyes widened and she pulled it away. "Alphy, hold on-"



"I wanna taste too!"

Sakura blinked. "Oh my god. She's drunk off the atmosphere."

Rin gasped and the pulled out her phone. "Chance!"

"W-Wait! Dammit, Sis- Gah! A-A-Alphy! Where are you mmph?!?!?!!"

Alphy giggled and then said, "Asako tastes sweet!"

"@#[email protected]#%@$!"