Chapter 2: NetherProm Night
"Come on girls, I need my dress immediately," Raspberyl cheered, looking up to the towering followers walking into class before the sun rose. "But we have to clean the bath-wait!" the girls suddenly spurted. "Someone asked you to the NetherProm?!"
"Yes indeedy!" Raspberyl grinned. "Prepare yourselves! I'm going to be taken by none other than Mao!"
"Mao actually asked you? I'm impressed by his progress," Asuka noted. "I knew you two would hit it off one day, especially since you're childhood friends. It's destiny."
"He was so tsundere about it but so sweet at the same time. I think I'll call it sweetdere," Raspberyl said. The three began to leave the school grounds, her assistants naturally following her side by side. "So how did he ask? Did he just come up to you?" Kyoko wondered. "Or invited you behind the school for a secret confession? Perhaps he left you a secret message in the last place you'd expect to show how much he knows you."
"Well, he did ask pretty secretively, in his lab," the number one badass stated. "It was like a mental game where I had to answer the right way. He's totally shy about it. I think he would have skipped out on the entire thing if I had said no."
"Geoffrey!" Mao called out, leaving his bedroom. The gray-skinned butler rose from the tiled grounds of the castle floor, bowing in servitude. "Yes young master?"
"I'm going to the NetherProm. I need a suit. To the Rosen Queen 'Special Prom Edition for Males'!" Mao declared, grabbing his red coat and wrapping it around his shoulders. Geoffrey stepped closely behind him. This NetherProm was the only thing he could allow for Mao. Every demon attended, even Overlords. To say the least, it wouldn't deter him from the path of malevolence. The butler wouldn't have to soil his hands tonight.
Heading down the street, Mao found himself in front of the Rosen Queen "Special Prom Edition for Males", right across the street from the Rosen Prinny, "Prom Edition" store. The prinnies seemed to be strangely excited but Mao couldn't recall a prom where Prinnies attended as guests. They were always slaves serving drinks and being used as fireworks. "Prinnies go the NetherProm?"
"No young master," Geoffrey reassured. "Prinnies actually go to their own Prinny Prom. Blue Prinnies ask Pink Prinnies. Those who cannot obtain a date are captured and forced to enslavement at the regular NetherProm. It's more of a game of survival than a romantic conquest."
"I see, makes sense."
With that confirmed, Mao entered the coolly aired store. A familiar, feminine voice could be heard squealing from the back as soon as he was completely in. "That looks so cute on you!" Sapphire cheered, watching Almaz model his tuxedo for the big night. "I see you got a date," Mao said. "I'm surprised."
"Oh, Lord Mao! You're here?" Almaz asked.
"So the princess is taking you?"
"Um…since I'm the guy, shouldn't I be taking her? It just sounds pitiful the way you put it…" Sapphire completely ignored that. There was something more interesting than Mao's insults towards her Fake Hero. "Mao, why are you here though? Is it possible….that you have a date?"
"Yes, I do. I'm going with Raspberyl."
"Really Lord Mao? I knew you two were childhood friends and rivals in an eternal struggle for your ideology but-"
"She asked me!" Mao snapped. "Don't get any weird ideas into your head."
"Yeah…but you agreed right? So you want to go with her," Almaz said, slipping into the changing room. Mao sucked his teeth. He didn't properly think this conversation through. "Yeah, but she's offering me a reward to take her. A Watermelon Prize!"
"What's that?" the blue haired boy asked, slipping back into his white clothing.
"I…don't know," Mao stated. "But she's my childhood accomplice! She would know what I like! I'm positive it's a tool of some sort or possibly the best tasting watermelon in the Netherworlds. Or perhaps! Perhaps it's a watermelon so delicious it'll bend the wills of those stupid homeroom representatives so I can finally embezzle all of the club funding!"
"I'm sure Raspberyl isn't the kind of girl who's desperate enough to bribe her friends into taking her to a dance," Sapphire defended. "She must really like you Mao and you must really li-"
"Hold your tongue! Don't say another word!" Mao commanded, swinging his arm to emphasize the order. "Geoffrey! Let's pick out my suit. We promised her a good time so I need an appealing suit. Look in the Bishounen section under Gothic but not Gothic Lolita! My mother did that to me as a baby and my memories are still trying to burn themselves!"
"I've already chosen the perfect outfit," the butler informed, revealing the black coat, white shirt and red bow. "It matches all your measurements and compliments your hair and eyes."
"Once again Geoffrey, you are unnaturally efficient. To even get my body measurements, you exceed regular servant capabilities," Mao remarked.
"Wait! He has your body measurements and you didn't know?!" Almaz panicked. "Is Geoffrey….a pervert?!"
"I liked to buy this," Mao said, opening his wallet at the counter.
"He's ignoring what I said…probably repressing the very thoughts already."
As Mao tucked the outfit away in his closet, Raspberyl, Kyoko, and Asuka extended their time at the Rosen Queen "Prom Edition" due to one pinked hair demon's indecisiveness. Turning her waist left and right, Raspberyl could hardly find any of the outfits suitable. "None of these are working. Why can't I choose?"
"This is the first time I've seen you so flustered," Kyoko commented as she held the rejected dresses Raspberyl tossed into her arms.
"Here, I've bought you some soda. Please relax," Asuka kindly suggested.
"Yeah. Mao'd probably make fun of me if he saw me like this," Raspberyl said. "Well, we'll let fate decide. Fate always lends a helping hand in love."
She dashed towards the dresses that matched her size where a large assortment of dresses surrounded her. She closed her eyes and pointed with one finger. To the surprise of her companions, she began to spin. She span faster and faster. The store clerk walked by and quickly stepped back into the shadows. "And….STOP!" Raspberyl shouted out excitedly. Staring at the results of her game, she sighed. "My finger is pointing between two dresses! Fate must be an Honor Student! Wait a minute…tailor!"
"Yes miss?" an elderly catsaber asked.
"Can you take the top of that dress and put it on the bottom of the other?"
"Yes but the cost would have to match both dresses I'm afraid."
"I'll do it. I have plenty of money to spend."
With the purchase confirmed and Raspberyl's credit card clearing through, she was able to purchase the hybrid outfit. It suited her perfectly. A black ribbon around her neck with a black strapless dress that poofed out at the bottom pleased her to no ends. The dark armbands and high heels were perks to the design but later at home she realized she could put her upside down skull on the torso. "This is perfect!" she cheered as she placed it in its own space of her closet. "I hope Mao likes it. Then again I hope he wears something decent too. I don't want to do the whole Beauty and the Beast thing."
Time was the only obstacle to cross. As much as she fought the temptation, she did not accompany Mao for any of his sidequests or level grindings as usual. The two communicated through waves and casual greetings. Late night though, even away from Geoffrey's peeping eyes, Mao snuck out of his house to do enigmatic deeds. Raspberyl spent her time polishing her horns and painting them a dark seated black. Nails and hair were groomed and properly handled at salons with her friends beside her. Even a tail waxing was necessary along with wing dusting. "It's hard to be so cute," she would happily boast.
And finally the legendary night arrived. Raspberyl prepared Mao's Watermelon Prize and Mao prepared himself for the upcoming evening. Geoffrey knocked on his master's door, pondering the child's current status. "Young master, are you ready?"
The doors swung open. "Yes Geoffrey," Mao said, already dressed and cleaned up. "So…what do you think?"
"Good. Well, let's go. I have to pick up Raspberyl."
"Indeed. We'll take the Prinny-powered wagon."
"No Geoffrey. I've managed to hire a chauffer for the evening. You stay here and watch over the place."
"This…is unusual," Geoffrey nervously muttered. Nothing Mao did was ever kept secret from him. How could this be as well? When did the young master hire a chauffer? "See ya later Geoffrey. Don't touch my PS3! My character is only at level 2300 on Bigaea 2!"
"I assure you I will restrain myself."
"Good." Closing the doors behind him, Mao walked down the steps of his castle and into the back seat of his pitch black carriage. "Dood!" the prinnies cried out at the end of the carriage. "How can we expect to pull a carriage out of pure marble dood?!"
"I reincarnated you seventeen times and trained you to level 5000! Do it!" Mao shouted.
Raspberyl waited patiently, pacing to and fro in the living room of her house. "Tonight's the big night," she whispered. "I hope he didn't forget. How could he with that 1.8 million EQ anyway?"
Her little chuckled managed to pass some time but her eyes couldn't keep away from the clock. Pleads of mercy and agony then echoed in front of her house. Peeking through the window, she could see Mao stepping out of the carriage. "No way!"
Walking up the stairs to her excessively clean house, he cleared his throat before ringing the doorbell. "Mao!" she happily greeted.
"R-raspberyl!" she nervously replied. His eyes quickly went to hers. He couldn't believe how entranced he was. Like some magnetic force, he it was so distracting he didn't even try to think of a logical, scientific explanation for it. "Mao…what do you think?"
"I…it looks good on you," he blushed.
"You…really mean that?!" she blurted out. "The dress and everything?"
"Yes, yes. Beautiful! Stop making me say it so much!" Mao fussed, walking down the steps ahead of her. Raspberly found it impossible to wipe away her smile. Opening the door for her, Mao followed after helping her. "This is pretty extravagant," she said, observing the velvet decorations and soft carpeting."
"I promised you a fun night right?"
"Yes you do and so far you're beating all expectations Mao. You look rather handsome I'd say."
"Enough of your blabbering. Rider, take off! To the NetherProm!"
"Aye aye dood!"
The ride lasted quite a few minutes, a period that same to go on forever between the two. While Mao nervously kept to his window, Raspberyl kept to him. She knew he tapped his fingers when he was nervous. She knew she also found it cute. "Mao."
"What is it?"
"Are you nervous Mr. Number One Honor Student?"
"Shut up! Who would be nervous? This dance has been around for eons! I've studied to its very core. It holds no surprises for me."
"You're so loud when you're nervous? And you're blushing too!"
"Did you invite me just to make fun of me?!"
"Okay, okay," Raspberyl chuckled. "I'm sorry. I'll stop."
As soon as she said that, the carriage stopped. Mao looked out the window to see the sky piercing castle across the stone bridge glittering with lights. A prinny came to hold open their door as the two got out. Mao opened his hand, feeling Raspberyl's soft grip in his palm and between his fingers. "Thank you Mao."
He had planned to let go but it was for naught. Raspberyl quickly made her move and slithered her arm around his, keeping herself tied to him. "Escort me properly," she grinned. Truly this was a sight to see. The demons from the academy looked in awe as their leader walked into the dance room with Raspberyl at his side. Kyoko and Asuka ran up to the two as soon as they caught sight of them. "My lady, I see Mao came through," Asuka sincerely said.
"Of course. I'm efficient in nearly everything," Mao boasted.
"Yep. He even got us a carriage drawn by suffering prinnies!" Raspberyl warmly revealed. "And he said I was beautiful."
"Wow, that's really up the scale for you Mao. I never expected that from you," Kyoko smiled.
"Don't expect and don't be surprised! I was talking about just the dress!" he fussed.
"Come on Mao; let's go meet Sapphire and Almaz!"
"Sure." She knew how to handle him. Kyoko and Asuka clearly would have bothered him with their comments. She knew Mao, who hid it well from everyone else, was shy about this. "Oh, you made it," Almaz waved. "Wow Raspberyl, you look amazing."
"Why thank you but I'm afraid my sweet escort had even sweeter words for me than that!"
"Will you be quiet about that?!" Mao growled.
"I have to brag Mao. It makes this night better," she said. "And that was part of deal."
"You look so adorable!!" Sapphire squealed, already hugging the petite demon in her arms. Almaz tried his best to unlock the princess's arms from the slowly dying demon but only Mao's efforts could completely free her. "Thanks," Raspberyl said, rubbing her throat.
The lights suddenly snapped off. A spotlight flashed on top of the staircase, revealing Mr. Champloo in a tuxedo with mike in hand. "A lovely evening such as this is a culinary blend of perfected potential with ingredients that are hard to find. Throw your own toppings on but the foundation is never ruined. Add the right recipe to make it unforgettable, to make others want to copy. That is potency of the NetherProm. Boom!"
Strangely, he was applauded and the lights flickered back on. Music began to play and the dance floor was enveloped. "Come on Mao! Let's dance!" she cheered.
"Are you out of your mind? I…I can't do that."
"What? You can't dance?" she asked. "Don't worry. I'll take care of you."
"Raspberyl, that's ridiculous."
"You don't trust me?"
"It's not that, it's-"
"Come on!" she cheered, pulling him by the wrist. The crowd around them became lost in the music, dancing and stepping in rhythm. "Dance with me. It won't kill you."
Without warning, she began to shake her small hips and tail. Mao stood quietly, in shock at her sudden and smooth movements. Her arms and legs moved almost like an ocean's wave with her body. His eyes were glued to the hair passing by her face at most times. "Come on, it's weird if only one person dances," she said, holding his hands.
She began to swing them to the left and to the right. The furrowed brows and small droplets of sweat told her he wasn't completely comfortable like this. "Hmm…well, I'm not going to force you if it's that bothersome. Though," she slyly muttered. "I thought you studied this NetherProm for eons. Who knew even your research had a flaw in it? What's worst than incomplete research?"
"Incomplete? My research is hardly ever incomplete," he defended. "I just…I'm not use to moving like that. It's weird."
"It's not weird when I do it is it?"
"I understand Mao. I won't force you to if you can't. You can sit down if you want and drink some punch."
"Like I want to drink that tainted punch and sit down," he said as he began to snap his fingers. Almaz sipped from a cup of punch and spat it out immediately. It was tainted. He began to feel a little dizzy. Mao started to dance more and more, snapping his fingers and swinging his arms. His feet would sometimes move but it hardly ever matched anything else he did. Raspberyl tried her best to hold her laughter but when he began to move his neck like a crippled mummy she couldn't resist. "Mao…Mao! You look so funny!"
"What?! You're the one telling me to dance and then you laugh!"
"I didn't think it'd be that bad!" she said, bursting into laughter. She actually had to hold her sides.
"I'm not dancing anymore then. I'm not staying here to look stupid," he coldly muttered, leaving the crowd and Raspberyl behind. "Mao, wait."
Pulling up a seat, he found himself next to a drunken Baciel with only a bowtie around his neck. He quickly decided to find another empty seat where he crossed his arms and glared at the other guests. "This whole NetherProm is stupid. How do they expect everybody to know how to dance like that?!"
The music constantly changed and he could even see the DJ Prinny moving to the music. "I should have studied more into it…"
"At least you tried," Raspberyl said, sitting down next to him. She handed him a cup. "Want some punch? Don't worry; I got Kyoko to add some antidote to it. Almaz got sick earlier so it was easy to determine the poison."
Mao took the cup and drank it all down in one go.
"Listen Mao, I'm sorry about laughing at you like that. It wasn't very badass of me," she said.
"I knew I'd looked stupid dancing like some monkey."
"Yeah but…you have to admit, later you'll look back and laugh at this. And to say the very least, at least you tried. It meant a lot to me."
"I didn't….do it for you. I want my Watermelon Prize so don't you forget."
"I won't. If you want, we could just talk with Almaz while he recovers. We don't have to dance," she offered. Mao lowered his head. The music then began to slow. A beautiful succubus in a red dress sat down atop the staircase and began to sing. It was a love song. One even Mao could recognize.
Far beyond what she expected, Raspberyl felt Mao pulling her into the crowd this time. "Mao, you-" Before she could finish, he placed his hand on her back. She could only watch as his hand clamped into hers. Her face and hair were nearly the same color. Mao's however matched his eyes. "I…I can't dance the other way because I only know the formal dances," he explained. "I can dance like this with no problem."
"Mao," she muttered, looking up at the shied away boy she asked to join her this evening. As gently as possible, she placed her feet on top of his. "You're really full of surprises."
"Yeah, you too."
Flowing calmly in the sea of guests, the two hearts of the couple rapidly throbbed as their small bodies warmed with more than just the physical closeness. Slowly, Raspberyl leaned her head onto his chest. The touched of her smooth horn and hair caught his attention more than anything. "Sorry."
"Like that would bother me," Mao said, snapping his head away from her. A chuckled came into her throat before she finally closed her eyes and nuzzled into his chest. The dance was beyond words, beyond sound, beyond the world's reach. Looking around to see if anyone was watching, Mao could see the coast was clear. He lowered his head until he felt the pink bundle of hair against his cheeks.
"Gah! My…my cheek was cold!"
"Just that one cheek?" she serenely hummed. "It's okay."
He returned to his place atop her head, closing his eyes as well. The song felt as if it would never end but Mao secretly wished it wouldn't. It wasn't long until he could feel Raspberyl's chest pressing against his own, her heartbeat caressing his own. "Mao," she said, raising her head up.
He looked into her eyes, wanting to turn back.
"This night has been wonderful. I know it's barely started and we haven't even had the dinner yet but…this alone makes it perfect."
"Y-yes, just as planned. I never fail."
"You sure did keep up your end of the bargain," she giggled. "This was fun, just because it was with you."
How could he respond? Nothing was popping into his head except compliments for her but what would she say? What was she saying? He found it difficult to determine what to do next. "You're…the same way."
"I'm not repeating it."
"I heard you the first time," she smiled, placing another hand on his shoulder. "It's nice to see you opening up to me after all these years."
"Perhaps I should give you your Watermelon Prize now."
"You have a watermelon with you right now?!"
"Yep." With a warm sweetness on her glowing face, Raspberyl gazed straight into his eyes and leaned forward. Her soft lips lightly pressed against his. The warmth between them heightened. She could feel her tail move and he could feel his even his ears respond. Against everything he said, he embraced it. He wrapped his arms around her, feeling her wings flap in excitement above them. He held her small body against his and carefully caressed her hair. Strangely, he found that her lips tasted much like watermelon.
"Watermelon lipstick," she smiled, looking back at the outsmarted Mao. "Never expected that did you Number One Honor Student?"
"You truly do go all out," he happily said. "But strawberry is more romantic."
"Just enjoy yourself."
"Should we stop those two?" Almaz asked, completely recovered from the poisoned punch. "They're the only ones left dancing. Everyone is eating dinner already."
"No," Sapphire said. "These moments are what any prom should be for."
And quietly, the two demons danced, the song playing endlessly in their world no longer connected to the NetherProm. The singer stopped but they didn't stop hearing it, didn't stop dancing until they felt like it and didn't stop holding each other to the very end. If anyone were to ask Mao what happened, he'd have to reluctantly admit it. There truly was no way to lie about that evening and maybe he didn't want to.
Author's Note: If it interests you, the song I listened to while imagining the dance scene was Nocturnal by Ali Project. I don't like a lot of their music except for the Orchestrated songs which I love. Unfortunately I don't speak Japanese so the song might be extremely violent and angsty for all I know. Oh well, at least it sounds beautiful. Hope you enjoyed the story and please review!