It was a nice, pleasant day. A perfect day for a vacation, and that was exactly what I was having. I was having a nice pleasant vacation in Delsneyland. Delsneyland had opened only a few years ago so it was still fresh for a lot of people, including me. At the moment, I was just loitering outside of the main entrance as I watched all of the excited kids. It was funny, even though there weren't any rides or attractions out here, the kids were having the times of their lives as they joyously waited for their parents to finish buying the tickets that would let them in the happiest place on Earth, or Tokyo at least. I let out a little laugh.
However, my thoughts were interrupted by the person that had gone to get me my ticket as well as hers. It seems I'd get to have fun before those kids. Ihihi.
"Battler! What are you doing just loitering around here? You should've waited in line with me!"
This cheeky person is Beato. She and I have been going out for a while, that is, she's my girlfriend. I don't want to give off the wrong impression though as I actually do like her a lot.
"I would've gotten the tickets myself," I said, offering a meager excuse. "But it was your turn to do the boring stuff, and I thought it was pointless if we bo~th had to wait in line. Besides, you were able to take care of it right? Ihihi."
"Tch. Your logic is as idiotic as always," said Beato. "I got the tickets but we would already be in the park by now if I didn't have to get you from here."
Beato was genuinely annoyed.
"Heh. Sorry Beato. If I had known it was going to take this long, I would've waited with you."
Beato was satisfied with this. "Fine then, in deference to the fact that you took me here today, I'll let this slide. But then tell me, what were you doing just standing around here?"
"I was just thinking."
"You were thinking?" said Beato, as if it was such an impossible thing.
The way she said that kind of pissed me off. Beato was an undeniably rude person. However, it did make her a lot more colorful and somehow fun to be around with. Maybe I'm just a masochist for this kind of girl.
"Yeah. Like how awesome it would be if I had found a gigantic cache of gold and could rent out this park for a day. I'd bring all of my relatives here and it would be really fun."
Beato cackled at my childish wish. "Ahaha. Battler, even if you worked A LOT harder then you might be able to rent out a 1 m2 part of the park. I'm not sure you could fit all of your relatives in it though. You really should've studied more in high school." She continued to cackle. That will teach me to tell her stuff like this in the future.
"Well what about you then Beato?" I said, redirecting the conversation. "Won't people mistake you for a cast member with those clothes?"
Beato immediately stopped cackling. "Muu- Do you really think so?" She seemed sad.
Gah! It's useless! My weakness for those with two X chromosomes is such a liability. I should still be indignant over how she so cruelly stamped over my little dream but…
"Ihihihi. It was just a joke. You look cute."
Beato was wearing a rather peculiar outfit for this part of Japan. She was wearing a dark jacket covering a white shirt as well as a purple tie. Her hair was tied up into a bun and there was even a rose on it. Her lower half consisted of a red skirt that would've exposed most of her legs if it wasn't for the knee-high socks with alternating colors that she was wearing. It was very zettai ryouiki? Very modern I guess? Definitely something you'd typically only see in anime and manga, and only recently as well. It's useless. It's all useless. This outfit actually really fitted her somehow; she looked cute even though I knew it was very out of place here. It fits her better than some Victorian-era dress would anyway. That would be an interesting sight to see though. Ihihi.
She suddenly cackled again. "Great! I knew you'd like it. Now, here you go."
Beato handed me my Delsneyland ticket. I took it, but what was with that sudden change? I shouldn't be surprised though, Beato was always a very manipulative and conniving person. It was difficult to tell what she was thinking a lot of the time. It made things interesting though, that's for sure.
While I was musing over this, Beato had grabbed my arm and cheerfully brought me with her towards the entrance. It looks like she was excited to start the day. It was going to be an interesting day, especially with something I had planned. That something made me both a little nervous but very excited as well.
Before we knew it, we were inside the park. It didn't take long for us to show our tickets and gain entrance. Inside, we were immediately greeted by a fantastic sight. The buildings around us were themed but I wasn't able to tell what they were replicating. But the more amazing sight was the Victorian-style conservatory roof that shielded the area. It was rather awe-inspiring and it also seemed to serve the dual purpose of shielding tourists from the weather in this part of Japan. Apparently this area was called the World Marketplace.
Beato didn't seem to care at all. She was intently looking at the guide map we had picked up at the entrance and was busily looking over the available attractions.
"A HAUNTED MANSION!" shouted Beato. "There's a Haunted Mansion ride!"
Beato had gotten really excited. Anywhere else, Beato probably would've gotten a bunch of stares for that excited exclamation but since we were in Delsneyland, a bunch of kids were constantly making similar exclamations for a variety of attractions, and so it wasn't out of the ordinary. Of course, Beato isn't a kid so it was different but it reminded me of how innocent Beato truly was in-between her abusive demeanors.
"Oh, that's right. Beato, you really enjoy that kind of supernatural stuff. Just like a middle school girl. Ihihihi."
"Muu- Well, it's just a hobby…"
"Ihihihi. Collecting stamps, that's a hobby. Reading manga, that's a hobby. Your interest in the supernatural, that borders on being an obsession. But don't worry, I think it's cu~te."
Beato puffed up her cheeks. She was a little embarrassed at my teasing. "Ignoring that, I still want to go on that ride."
"That's fine. We can go after we've looked around here for a while."
Beato had other intentions. She immediately blocked my path by forcing her arm outward and hitting the wall to my left. I looked at her questioningly, what's going on? She gave me a highly menacing look in return.
"I want to go on that ride now."
Jeeze. What happened to that cute Beato who was embarrassed about her supernatural hobbies? She must've been more obsessed than I thought. I relented.
"Hehe. Fine, fine. If you won't be satisfied until we go on that ride, then I guess we should go on it immediately."
"Fufufu. How nice of you to see it my way. It will be fun right? Don't worry."
I wore a defeated smile as I followed her lead. There was really nothing a guy could do when faced against a girl like this except accept his defeat and surrender. Usually I would fight tooth and nail for my side but Beato seemed really excited, how could I say no to that?
Oh well, it seems we were moving to the 'Fantastic Land' area of the amusement park, something like that anyway. I wasn't particularly familiar with the map of the park but, amazingly enough, Beato had instantly familiarized herself with it using the visitor's guide, something I'm probably not capable of. I think I now understand that one quote about women doing things twice as good as men and for it to come easily to them. Beato, in her enthusiasm to get to a silly ride, was proof of that.
Before I knew it, we had reached the attraction. It was styled after a western mansion and was adorned with pillars and even a steeple. It was exactly how I'd imagine a haunted mansion to look, save that it looked a little too well-kept. Regardless, I was in awe and apparently I wasn't the only one.
"How nice, how nice," said Beato. "It is a perfect place to house wandering souls that are unable to depart into the next world, a nice little purgatory. It's very convincing right? …Battler?"
"Hm?" I was still in a little daydream but quickly regained my senses. "Yeah, it's very convincing but I'd imagine a haunted mansion to be a little more dilapidated."
"Kukikiki. But if it was like that, how would the spirits be able to invite any humans, right?"
"You're right, that makes sense. You should definitely work for this attraction, I'm sure they'd be happy to have you. Ihihihi."
"And you should definitely clean the toilets here, I'm sure they'd be happy to have you," said Beato before she began cackling.
Even though she had just said that really abusive thing, I still found myself laughing along with her. As a couple, the two of us really enjoyed teasing each other. I'm sure a lot of people would think that our relationship is troubled, or maybe even disturbed. But to me, it was a lot of fun and I knew Beato felt the same way. They say that sometimes when a girl likes a guy, she teases him a lot but is able to get over it once she confesses, but it seems neither Beato nor I have ever gotten over this teasing phase.
Once Beato and I finished laughing, I started making conversation. "Did you know that my grandfather owns a mansion on an island?"
"That's right; the Ushiromiya family is rich isn't it? Although I wouldn't be able to tell from your shabby appearance, fufu, but don't tell your father I said that."
"Ha! The old bastard wouldn't care about something like that."
"I always do find your family very interesting. But about that mansion, is there any interesting history behind it? A curse maybe?" asked Beato, her eyes sparkling hopefully. It was a shame to have to betray her expectations.
"Sorry, nope. It's just a regular mansion on a little-known island. It would probably make a good setting for something, but there's nothing weird at all. No spirits or curses, nothing supernatural about it at all. It's just a place that my family goes to once a year for a family conference."
"A mansion on a little-known island? There has to be a weird history to that place. Bring me with you the next time you go there, I'll definitely uncover something. Fufu."
If things went the way I hoped they would today, then I would be obligated to bring her there during the next family conference. I was getting nervous just thinking about what I had planned, but for now…
"For now, we have a real haunted mansion to visit don't we?" I said, pointing towards the attraction.
Beato agreed and quickly pulled me into this replica of a mansion. It was dark inside but I was still able to make out a lot of butlers and maids, along with other visitors. There was one butler in particular though, I wasn't sure, but was he wearing a monocle? He seemed to be staring at Beato and me very intently, but when I returned his stare he simply smiled at me before turning away. That was definitely weird and it was creepy, but I suppose that was the intention of this attraction. There were many other creepy servants who ushered us quickly into a room deeper within the mansion. Beato's grip was still on my arm, and she seemed excited, after all, the supernatural was something she delighted in. The door behind us then closed off and we, along with all the other guests, were seemingly trapped within a circular room. It was a neat trick. But then suddenly, a loud voice boomed.
"Welcome, foolish humans, to my haunted abode. I am your host-your 'Ghost host.' We will also be having special… ghosts tonight. I hope you don't mind. Ha haha haha."
That… was actually pretty scary even though it was really corny. I'm sure Beato was having fun, but why did her hold on my arm suddenly feel much tighter?
"Ahahaha! Beato! I can't believe you were actually scared of that ride!"
Even though Beato was a gigantic supernatural hobbyist, she had gotten scared in a ride like this. During the entire ride, she held tightly onto me. Although it felt nice, it was also hilarious. I couldn't let something this funny go by without the appropriate amount of teasing.
"Muu… It was a scary ride. It's not so surprising that I'd be a little scared right?" said Beato. She was clearly embarrassed.
"Ihihihi. The ghosts were singing! Ahaha. And you weren't just a little scared; you were completely out of your mind with fear!"
Suddenly, Beato put on a determined face as if to indicate that she was not going to tolerate any more of my insolence. I was surprised at the sudden change and wondered what she was up to.
"Enough is enough, Battler. I wasn't actually scared. I just wanted to act more moe~ since I figured you liked that in girls. It's a children's ride right? It would've been fine if you had just accepted that I was a little afraid but you had to ruin that illusion by showing me this much disrespect. I was pretending to be afraid for your benefit." Beato sighed.
My jaw dropped. I hadn't considered at all that Beato was just pretending to be afraid for something as abstract as increasing her moe~. But now that she had explained it, it made complete sense and definitely fitted her character. Now I was just the fool who gloated with fake superiority in being able to handle a dark-ride, when there was actually nothing to gloat about. Damn it! I should've just savored being close to her.
"A-Are you serious Beato?"
"Uh… of course. I wasn't scared at all, not even a bit. You said so yourself, I love the supernatural right?" said Beato, a little too defensively to cover up her initial hesitation. But that was all I needed.
"Ha! So you actually were afraid. You had me completely convinced Beato. But that slight hesitation gave you away. I think I can safely say 'checkmate'."
Beato's cheeks suddenly gained a faint rosy color. It was obvious that I had her cornered but she quickly attempted to formulate some kind of counter as she began fervently looking through the visitor's guide of Delsney Land. Although for what purpose, I wasn't sure.
"Fine! If the mighty Battler thinks he's so great at not being afraid of a silly ride, I'll find something that will scare him," said Beato. Then she broke into a mad grin before cackling. "Hahahaha. I found something! A roller coaster, I'm sure you wouldn't mind going on one, would you Battleerrr?"
Beato was freaking me out but the idea of going on a roller coaster freaked me out even more. How did Beato figure out my fear of fast vehicles in precarious places? That didn't matter now, as Ushiromiya Battler, as a man, I would have to non-chalantly pretend I wasn't afraid of anything, much less a roller coaster.
"A roller coaster? Tch. I could easily handle something like that. If you want me to hold onto you then you'd need to try something else. You could even start by asking. Ihihihi. But a roller coaster won't do that. Ushiromiya Battler isn't afraid of something like that."
"Oh? So you really aren't afraid of roller coasters? Fufu. I thought you would be since you got so panicked during that bumpy train ride the other day that I had to hold your hand. A roller coaster is a lot scarier."
Crap… I hoped that she had forgotten about that embarrassing display of mine but this woman probably remembered it to use as a weapon against me. Beato is a very crafty person. There are some who describe the entire female sex as witches, if that was the case then Beato was surely the epitome of this concept. I'm sure I was stifling a very nervous smile at that moment.
"Well that train ride was really bumpy! Haven't you heard those news stories about how entire trains would crash against something as simple as a cow and then everyone would die? It's not an uncommon occurrence; I can't be faulted for being cautious about something like that," I said, explaining myself for that train incident. "But a roller coaster is definitely okay. I'm sure the Delsney company took a lot of precautions into making it safe, otherwise they'd have a huge lawsuit on their hands."
"Fufu. You're probably right Battler. I'm su~re that there hasn't ever been an accidental death since the conception of the modern roller coaster. And it's as you said, the Delsney company probably took many precautions and it should be fine. You'll definitely… probably be safe." Beato began cackling again.
"Tch. You… Even if there's been an accident on roller coasters before, it doesn't mean this one will have such an accident. I mean, statistically riding a roller coaster is even safer than driving."
"Oh? You look up those kinds of statistics?" Beato was mocking me and made no attempt at stifling her laughter.
"Let's go, right now. I'm not afraid of any roller coaster. Lead the way Beato, I definitely won't look like a tenth of the scaredy-cat that you were in our last ride."
"All right then Battler. It's not very far." Beato had stopped laughing by this point but she was still wearing an amused smile.
Tch. I'll show her. I couldn't back down, especially since I teased her so much over another ride.
Beato led the way to the roller coaster. I followed closely behind her. I could easily hear her snickering. She really thought that I wouldn't be able to handle this ride. But I wouldn't back down; I had no intention of breaking into tears and hugging my knees as the man of this relationship. Granted, being with Beato often confused that man/woman dichotomy, if such a thing even existed in this relationship.
On the way to the roller coaster, I thought I saw someone familiar. She was a little girl with red hair with pink bobbles in them. At first I thought it was Ange but there was no way that it could be her. She should be at home with Kyrie and the old bastard, if he was even there and not at his company. After shaking my head to make sure I was seeing what I was seeing, she disappeared. It seemed that my fear of this roller coaster was causing me to hallucinate. I was not enjoying this feeling at all and Beato was still snickering at me.
The line for this ride was surprisingly long. I decided to use this time as a way to brace myself for what was to come.
"How nice," said Beato. "I thought you would've given up this farce once you saw the ride itself but you actually got yourself into the line."
False bravado is what I would describe my situation as right now. I was scared witless but I planned on going on the ride. It was a roller coaster and they are by their very nature fast. The ride should also be quick to finish and afterwards I would laugh at myself for being scared of such a trivial thing.
"It's just a ride. I can handle it."
"That's fine even if you are able to get on the ride. Afterwards, I will surely enjoy delicious Battler tears." Beato was grinning widely and her eyes were mocking. It was scary, almost as scary as the ride.
"Heh. You and I might end up needing a lot of tissues later today but it won't be because of this ride."
I am actually rather embarrassed over this line. It insinuated something indecent but I don't even know what for, it was a meager defense against Beato. Fortunately, it did stop Beato's barrage of taunts for the time being, I guess she had gotten embarrassed as well but her back was to me so I couldn't be sure.
For the rest of the duration of our wait in line, she and I shared no words. We were taking this battle of wills very seriously. I had to concentrate, what kind of man would I be if I couldn't even handle something like this? I especially wanted to ask her something important later today, if I had this embarrassment on me, how the hell was I going to go be able to through with that?
It took a while but we were finally at the front of the line, but it didn't feel long enough. The next car pulled up and all its passengers came out. This particular roller coaster was rather frightening, it moved fast and had many sharp turns and loops and such. I was confident that the engineers that designed this ride had made all the necessary calculations; rather, I hoped that was the case. The car that was now empty seemed excessively shaky to me, much more so than any of the other cars I had seen go by. It might be better if I waited for the next car…
"Battler?" said Beato. "It's time to get on the ride. Kukikiki. Don't tell me you want to delay getting on this ride by waiting for the next car?"
Damn it. That was what I had planned on doing, but since she brought it up like this, there was no way that I could do that now.
"Tch. Of course not, let's get this over with," I said, bearing a strained smile.
We were urged into the car, situated right in the very front. It wouldn't have been as bad if we were seated in the very back, that way if we were thrown out somehow then the car wouldn't run over us. But if we were thrown out then the height would probably kill us anyway. Gah! Those morbid thoughts ended up increasing my fear 10-fold.
"Can you really handle this Battler?" asked Beato with a derisive smile.
"O-Of course I can. Ihihihi. Why couldn't I? It's just a silly ride. I can… I can…" I could feel my own voice trailing away. That was enough talking for now; I should just focus on putting on my seatbelt. It would not be good if the operating computers failed to see that my seatbelt wasn't secure enough and then the seatbelt snapped and I'd be flung straight out of the car into the ground hundreds of feet below. Why are they still using seatbelts anyway? Aren't lap bars standard now? Aren't they a lot safer?
It wasn't helping that the car Beato and I were in was really shaky. It didn't seem normal at all. The fear I've had of ungrounded vehicles from since I was a child threatened to overtake me. And what if, even if everything in the ride was perfectly fine but I still ended up dead? It was possible that the G-forces of this ride were too much for the human body and I'd just be the first to suffer a snapped nerve and gain a permanent brain injury just because of a stupid ride! There was so much more I wanted to do in my life, there was no way I was going to die. I am definitely not going to die. I refuse to die! …but this roller coaster was out of my hands. It could simply fall off the tracks and cause us all to fall to our deaths and there would be nothing that I could do about it.
"…I'm going to fall."
"I'M GOING TO FALL!" I shouted.
I began waving frantically to one of the ride attendants. The seatbelt wouldn't let me go, no matter how much I pressed the button. I needed to go now before they started the ride!
One of them walked over to where I was. "Are you unable to go on this ride sir?"
"Y-yeah! I can't go on this ride. Please let me off!" I was frantically trying to undo my seatbelt. But it just wouldn't budge!
The ride operator signaled to the ride operator. The operator pressed a button and I was finally able to undo my seatbelt. I could finally get out. I was almost free!
I scrambled to get out of the car. One of the ride attendants opened a door for me to get back down from the queue of this ride. I quickly went through it, to get away from this death trap, this disaster waiting to happen. I didn't even care if people were laughing at me at the moment, at this adult who was unable to handle an amusement park ride. I just wanted to be away from this attraction.
Away from that roller coaster, I found an empty bench. I quickly sat down in it. I needed to catch my breath but someone immediately sat next to me… it was Beato. I couldn't turn to look at her; I was far too pitiful at the moment.
"Tch. You can go ahead and gloat Beato. I guess I couldn't handle it after all."
If we weren't in public, I would've hugged my knees in embarrassment. I wanted to do that but instead I just stared down at my feet. How pitiful was I? I couldn't even handle a ride that middle-schoolers are able to. Suddenly, Beato covered my eyes with her hand and pulled my head backwards.
"You need to get out of this slump right now Ushiromiya Battler! It would be very inconvenient for me if my opponent was unable to get up after losing just one round like this."
Beato's round-about way of making me feel better was actually working. Just as soon as I had thought that, she released her hold on me. Of course, I turned to look at her but I was greeted with a very bizarre sight. Beato was smiling at me awkwardly while waving around many different miniature flags from various countries.
I laughed nervously, not knowing how to respond to this display. "Ahehe… That's very nice. I, uh, feel a lot better now. Thank you! Ihi…hi."
"What's this? You don't like it? I find that displeasing but as long as you feel better then I am satisfied," said Beato, as she began putting away her miniature flags.
"Uh… when did you get those flags anyway?"
"I bought them at the gift shop outside the entrance right after I purchased our tickets."
"That makes sense… But wait! Didn't you complain to me that you wanted to enter the park earlier but had to wait to get me? And yet you found the time to buy some trinkets?"
"I see nothing wrong with that. If you had gone with me to get the tickets, we would've been able save time right?"
"It figures that you'd see it that way. Heh…"
"Of course I had to purchase something like this; I figured I would need something to cheer you up sometime today."
"That is some… amazing foresight?"
"You are a cry-baby. I know that better than anyone."
"I see," I said, finally understanding. "You know me pretty well. Thank you Beato. Even though I lost that round, I really appreciate what you did to help this loser get right back up."
Beato blushed a little. "W-well. Aside from being opponents in games, we're also partners right?"
"And I wouldn't want to lose a partner like you. I-I'm fortunate to have a man like you with me." Beato then began coughing. It seems that what she had just said caused her much embarrassment.
Somehow, the tips of her fingers found their way to my hand. I held them lightly, showing her my appreciation. Seeing this girl here like this reminded me why I wanted to ask her that thing today. I didn't know if I had the courage to do something like that, especially due to my own inability to summon up enough courage to handle a ride. But Beato renewed that courage, maybe not for the ride, but for that. Definitely for that.
"Well, Beato. I wasted enough of our day putting us in a line for a ride we didn't end up going on. How about we go on something we can enjoy but I won't flake out on, the teacup ride or something," I said, fully expecting her to agree.
But she shook her head lightly. "No, I'm perfectly content sitting here for now."
She then held my hand in its entirety. Now I definitely wasn't able to leave my seat here and that appeared to be Beato's intention.
"That's fine," I replied. "We can stay here for however long you want."
"Thank you," she said. Beato then did something surprising; she rested her head on my shoulder. "Truly, I'm glad to have a man like you with me as a partner."
"I feel the same way Beato."
She then closed her eyes, her head still resting on my shoulder. "I love you Battler."
That statement took me a little aback but I responded in kind. "I love you too Beato."
I wasn't taken aback because this was the first time I heard it. I knew she felt this way and I felt the same. However, that feeling between us was understood and we didn't often relay it to each other, not with words at least. We substituted those words with the fun we had with each other. I guess it was just our two childish personalities making us like that. So whenever those words were uttered, it was definitely an event.
"I'm tired Battler. Do you mind if I sleep on your shoulder for a while? Even if you do, you have no choice. I'm going to do just that…"
I could feel Beato drift off into sleep, her head on my shoulder and her hand in mine. Heh, damn it. We paid good money to enjoy a childish romp through an amusement park, but like old people, we were just going to sleep through a lot of it. But that was fine, I didn't mind. No human would mind having a beautiful girl who loved him resting on him, regardless of the place or the price. The feeling was nice. It was nice enough that I would've felt content drifting off into sleep as well…
"Oniichan, you have to wake up," said a voice belonging to a young girl. I knew that voice well.
"Ange… I don't want to go to school, or work, or whatever it is I need to do. Just let me sleep in for a little longer. Tell Kyrie I'll get up later."
"You need to stop dreaming Oniichan."
"But I'm having such a pleasant dream. I don't really want to wake up."
"Is that how you really feel?"
"I see. Then I'll need to return later and remind you why you need to stop dreaming Oniichan. See you next time."
"Yeah, sure. See you next time. For now, I just want to dream a little more…"
I returned to my dreams.
I felt something moist touch the bridge of my nose. I slowly opened up my eyes to see what was going on but I couldn't see anything. However, it was obvious that someone had decided to park their face right on mine. Beato…
She pulled back, seeing that I had woken up. "Good to see you've woken up, Battler."
It seemed she was going to pretend what had just occurred didn't happen, that is she kissed me on the nose while I was asleep.
"Yeah, I must've fallen asleep right after you did. Ihihi."
"Did you have any nice dreams Battler? I had a nice one…" said Beato, a little red-faced.
"Oh? Was I in it? Ihihi."
"I have to refuse to answer that. That aside, I asked you about your dreams first, you are obligated to respond before I even consider telling you about mine."
"It was weird. I dreamt that my sister Ange kept telling me to wake up, something like that anyway. It's probably something left over of my annoyance from when I needed Ange to wake me up for school. But without her, I'd probably be late a lot of the time."
"How nice. You're very close to your sister right? Your dream is likely an indication that you miss her."
"Yeah, that's probably it. I do regret not having spent more time with her when she was younger. I'm a crappy older brother for letting my annoyance with the old bastard affect how often I could be with her. Next time, I'll bring Ange here. I wish I could've brought her this time but she had school. Makes me glad to be an adult. Ihihi."
"Oh, I see," said Beato wistfully. Perhaps she was jealous about how fondly I spoke of another girl. It was cute and reminded me that Beato was a young woman and not something else. Although I didn't know what that 'else' could be, she often seemed to be something other than human. I don't know why I felt that way. Regardless of all of that, moments like these were very appealing to me as a man.
"It's useless anyway. Beato, you're the only one here with me today so I should be a good boyfriend and be extra nice to you today."
"Kukuku. That's right. Battler, you've already wasted enough of our time today. I won't be able to contain my frustration if you aren't able to make up that lost time."
"Sure thing Beato. Let's continue our day. Lead the way."
Beato agreed and she was once again cheerful. However, just as she was about to lead me to the next attraction, we were interrupted by someone that was looking for me. It was obvious from his outfit that he worked here. I wondered what it could be.
"Mr. Ushiromiya?" said the worker.
"Hmm? That's me."
"Excellent! I was afraid that I was mistaken. We need to discuss with you about-" The worker suddenly cut himself off when he took a quick glance at Beato. It seemed that he realized something and thought it would be better if we spoke in private. I think I knew what this was about.
"Excuse me Beato. I need to talk with this guy in private for a second. It won't be long, I promise."
"Tch, more distractions," said an annoyed Beato. I apologized once more before moving away from Beato's auditory range with the worker. There was no way I could ruin the surprise by having her hear of it so early in the game.
It wasn't long before I finished speaking with the guy.
"You're a very lucky man Mr. Ushiromiya," said the worker.
"Thank you, I'll be leaving the rest to you, so take care."
The man then left.
Beato was unable to hear any of my exchange with the man save for that last bit. Whenever there was something that Beato didn't know, she would be quite annoyed until it was satisfied.
"Battler, just what exactly were you talking about with that man?"
"I'm sorry Beato but I cannot divulge that information at this time, it's classified," I said in a mysterious way that I thought exuded coolness.
Beato wasn't impressed. "Now I really need to know. I won't be able to continue the rest of the day until I know what that was about."
"I see. That would be unfortunate," I said. "I'll tell you what. Hold on until later on in the day, then you'll find out."
"That's quite annoying, Battler. However, a person like me could easily wait a hundred years if the secret was good enough."
Heh. Beato was such a liar but she had relented and that was good enough for now.
"Now I feel bad Beato. I'm not sure my secret is good enough," I bluffed. "The last thing I want to do is to betray a woman's expectations. How about for now, I go get you some ice cream. I believe you like it good enough? Ihihii."
In truth, Beato loved ice cream but I felt like talking in a round-about way. It was probably due to my renewed excitement over that thing I had planned later today. For now, I was certain I had seen a vendor that sold some overpriced ice cream around here somewhere. I motioned for Beato to follow me and she did. She hadn't responded if she had even wanted any but I could tell in her eyes that she was excited, hopefully that would be enough to make her forget about my 'classified information' for now.
I was able to find such a vendor and I ended up getting Beato an ice cream cone, as well as one for myself. I wasn't in particular want of something like that, especially given the price, but to make Beato have to eat alone… even I knew that wasn't a very gentlemanly thing to do.
"That was delicious!" said Beato. In no time at all, she had already finished her ice cream. My wallet cried a little knowing that the money spent for that ice cream had been devoured so quickly. Couldn't she have savored it just a little longer?
"I'm still savoring mine," I said, a small slight at this gluttonous woman.
"…Mu. I don't want to just be sitting around just watching you enjoy your ice cream. I wish I still had mine…" she said.
"… here it comes…" I whispered to myself.
"I know! Could you get me another one? With several scoops this time?" said Beato excitedly. Truly, she embodied the sin of gluttony at this moment.
My wallet cried out more than ever before. However, since this ice cream treat was just a way to distract Beato from asking about that, I had to give up and get her what she asked. It was working after all. I quickly finished my own ice cream and got her another one, several scoops this time.
Beato enjoyed this new one. I could do nothing but watch her lick my money into nothingness. However, her eyes quickly connected with mine and she once again looked disappointed. She hadn't even finished half of this new one, just what could she be disappointed about?
"…Mu. I'm glad you bought another one of these for me to enjoy, but I wanted to enjoy eating ice cream with you… and yet you don't have any ice cream for yourself right now."
Yeah, that was certainly true. I already had enough ice cream; I wasn't a glutton like the girl in front of me.
Suddenly, Beato turned incredibly meekish, a visible blush appeared on her face. "I suppose it can't be helped, to enjoy eating ice cream with you, please have some of mine."
Beato then handed me her unfinished ice cream, but what did she expect me to do with this? Wait a second…
"Please have some of mine," said Beato once again, her blush didn't allow her to face me this time.
"Ahahaha…" I laughed nervously. "That's quite all right Beato. I bought that for you to eat. If you can enjoy it then that would make me happy enough. I don't need to share it with you."
Beato seemed disappointed at this answer but she insisted that I share it with her. "I want to enjoy this with you Battler. Please have just a little."
Something like this? In public? I'm sure to Beato, this would've been a nice, cute thing that a couple like us could do. But to me, it was embarrassing. I remember when I used to see some of my friends do stuff like this with their girlfriends, I would tease them about it. Honestly, how could I do something like this now, knowing that I used to tease others who had done similar things? This was also probably much more worthy of being teased at than any of the things my friends had done.
However, while I had been thinking about all of this, Beato decided to consider my recent silence as a silent yes. She pressed the ice cream against my lips. Unfortunately, this caused the unstable ice cream cone to lose one of its scoops. This scoop found its way down my shirt, leaving a very messy streak of dairy product.
Beato looked shocked, and I'm sure I looked the same. For a while, silence… and then, "I'm so sorry Battler!" said Beato.
"It's not a big deal," I said. Seeing her sad made my earlier reluctance to sharing her ice cream dissipate immediately. "It's just one scoop right? There's still another…" And then I did the unthinkable, I licked what was left of the ice cream cone.
Seeing this, Beato's pale face was immediately replaced with a red one. "T-thank you, Battler… I'm glad I could enjoy this with you…" She then took her ice cream back and continued to eat what my sinful mouth had tasted.
"Ihihi. This was all very embarrassing. I'm going to go head to the restroom to get myself cleaned up. Even though we just ate ice cream, do you want to eat at one of the themed restaurants here afterwards? I think that would be a nice break from all of this excitement. A date within a date even! Ihihihi."
"That would be nice," she replied. "I would enjoy a peaceful date with you in this bigger day that we're having."
"All right then. Wait here and I'll be back soon, and then we can have that peaceful date. Try to find an interesting restaurant for me. Ihihi."
I smiled at her once more before leaving for the restroom. Beato never made anything uninteresting that much was certain. As such, it shouldn't have been much of a surprise that a fun loving person like me could be in love with her.
Today was nice, even with that embarrassing ice cream incident. Next we would eat at some restaurant, then we would visit some more attractions, and then I would ask her that. I couldn't wait.
After finishing cleaning myself up in the restroom, I walked outside. I turned pale as I saw someone who shouldn't have been here, someone who I had just dreamt about but who I had left at home far away, and someone who should've been at school.
"Ange?! What the—"
"I'm back Oniichan. I hope you were able to enjoy your dreams to your satisfaction," said Ange in a monotonous tone. "I brought with me the reminders of why you need to wake up."
"What? Wake up? I don't underst—"
Suddenly, she grabbed my hand. Then everything flooded back in. What I had been doing recently. What I still needed to do and ultimately, why this place could not have been any more fake. I see… so that's how it is. Ihihi.
"Do you remember now Oniichan?" asked Ange, or someone who looked like her.
"Ah…! It's useless! It's all useless! I remember it all, I remember everything. Rokkenjima, the typhoon, the murders, witches, magic, everything."
"That's good, then you remember why you must wake up," said 'Ange' before she walked around a corner.
I quickly followed her; maybe this person knew something else that could help me but when I rounded the corner, she was nowhere to be found. Even though I remembered everything, I still had no clue what was going on.
"Hoh? Battler? There you are. I got tired waiting for you so I decided to look for you. What are you doing here? It doesn't lead to where we were enjoying ice cream right?"
It was Beato… rather; it was Beatrice the Golden Witch.
"Is something wrong Battler? You look like you've seen a ghost."
…or a witch. I remembered how disappointed I had been at that recent trick she played on me. I thought she had changed. We had shared such embarrassingly tender moments, I was willing to defend her, I was willing to lose the game and accept her. Ihihi. I was pretty stupid. The third game felt like a really bad dream, the kind where when you wake up, you wonder about how the 'you' in that dream could've done so many stupid things. As Beato called out my name once more, I realized that this must've been another one of those dreams. 'Lucid dreaming' they called it, where you're able to be perfectly aware that you are in a dream. My remembrance of everything that had happened thus far and my recent realization of the absurdity of this place could probably best be described as a lucid dream.
"Battler?" asked Beatrice once more. She then grabbed both of my shoulders and looked into my eyes.
I found myself looking back. Just… what was this? Is all of this another trick? Or perhaps this really was all a dream. I pinched myself to be sure. Ouch.
Beatrice looked at me, still holding my shoulders, and said, "Why did you pinch yourself? Did you have to make sure that your being with such a beautiful and talented woman wasn't a dream? Fuhihihi."
Please, someone tell me what was going on. Did Beato really just say something so shameless? Beato being friendly with me after tricking and humiliating me so badly in the last game wasn't surprising, but I couldn't make any sense out of this type of friendliness.
On the one hand, I wanted to lash out at her, yelling at her and asking her what kind of trick she was pulling and for her to never do this again. That last game had made me forget that she was my enemy and it was heart-breaking when she reminded me of the true situation. This, what she was doing now, was far worse.
On the other hand, I wanted to show some tact. I wasn't sure of a strategy for that however. But since when has that ever stopped me? I would just go along with the flow for now, and change my strategy accordingly to this new game of hers. That was the very definition of tactics. Then maybe we could get back to our unfinished game. I would definitely prove that human tricks can explain all supposed magic and witches.
There was also the possibility that I was just in a dream right now. In which case, DAMN IT! Beato's trick must have really affected me for me to have this kind of dream. Or perhaps it was my own adolescence coupled with the fantasy romances in vogue these days. Either way, I needed to beat this witch. That red haired girl from right before I signed that contract had reminded me that I had to leave those two days of October. But how could I do that if I was having dreams like this? Damn you Beato…
It's useless. It's all useless. "Ihihi. Sorry Beato, I must really be out of it. Did you find a good place to eat?" I was so shameless, acting as though nothing was wrong. If this was a dream, I was certainly acting like it was. I casually accepted the absurdity of it all just like when one dreams.
"Indeed. You were quite out of it. But you appear to be fine now so we can go to an interesting restaurant I found."
I agreed and began to follow her but she suddenly stopped.
"Ah Battler," she said. "…mu. I mean, perhaps since you still don't appear to be completely back to normal, ah… I should hold onto you so you won't fall or something right?"
Although she had phrased this as a question, she gave me no choice and held my arm. Damn, I wonder if she could hear my heart rate increase. Beato did stuff like this earlier today but they had felt natural, even pleasant at the time. But now… they couldn't feel more wrong. My closeness with this witch right now, it felt as though divine providence would strike me at any moment. However, it was all useless so I just let Beato take me to where she had picked to eat. I dreaded calling that a date. For now, I just tried to think about what I needed to do and how I would get back to the real game with my enemy, the enemy who was now holding onto my arm. Damn it all.
Beato brought us to a themed restaurant that was filled with waiters and waitresses dressed as butlers and maids. I believe they have a few of these kinds of restaurants in Akihabara, except without any butlers. The draw of such a place was obvious. But the place we were in now didn't seem to discriminate between genders, in either the patrons or the servers. As I saw the waiters and waitresses, I half-expected Genji, or Shannon and Kanon to show up.
Beato and I were seated in a two person table, as though we were a couple or something. The thought of it brought a bitter smile to my face.
"What do you want to eat Battler?" asked Beato.
"Ihihi. I may be a breast sommelier but I'm no food connoisseur. I'll just have what you're having."
Normally I would be a lot more particular about what I ate in a place like this, given the prices. But hey, this place, whether it was a dream, or another elaborate trick by Beato, the food was effectively free. I suppressed another bitter smile.
"Chi. Battler, how will you ever be able to make connections with people if you don't know something as simple as what to eat?" Although Beato said this mockingly, she was wearing an uncharacteristically sweet smile. Damn, that smile was disarming for a guy with a weakness for those with a pair of X sex chromosomes.
After she had finished ordering, Beato said that she needed to freshen herself up in the restroom. As if I cared what she did, as long as it didn't affect me, I'd be much happier. As I wiped clean one of my eating utensils, someone began speaking to me.
"Pu ku ku ku. Battler-sama, would you care for some black tea and biscuits?"
I groaned inwardly, of course a dream like this wouldn't be complete without the creepy demon butler.
"Ronove, you just had to be here."
"You don't seem particularly pleased to see me. Perhaps I should get someone else to wait on you? Pu ku ku," said Ronove. This guy was annoying as ever, but at least he was a familiar face in this crazy place. Ihihi, I was really insane if I was calling a demon butler a 'familiar face'.
"That's fine. But I go all this way, and yet I'll still only be having your tea and cookies. I could have those anytime. Ihihi."
"Battler-sama, you speak as though we've met before. Is that the case?"
I hadn't been looking at this person, so I was surprised by this comment. Was he like Beato in that he was going to act as though I wasn't playing a game with the witch? But then why didn't he wonder about how I knew his name? That was explained by the fact that he was wearing a name tag. But then how would he know my name? It was all made irrelevant when I saw his face. I knew that he was just playing around.
"Cut the crap Ronove. I'm not in the mood for playing games."
"Pu ku ku. So I see you've regained your memories."
"I see, so I wasn't supposed to remember anything? Tell me then, what's going on?"
"It would certainly be presumptuous of furniture such as me to explain something such as that when you and milady are about to dine together."
This guy was pissing me off. However, I could probably get some answers if I tried a different approach. Obviously, to get answers from demons, one has to be a little less direct.
"How about this then? I offer you some of my theories and you can tell me if I'm close or way off."
"Pu ku ku. I suppose that is fair. I couldn't possibly imagine how milady could object to such a proposition," said Ronove. The sarcasm in his voice was obvious, but that was fine, I only needed some answers.
"Is all of this an elaborate trick?" I asked Ronove as my first question.
"I suppose, in a manner of speaking, that someone is being fooled."
"Chi. That was much more of an answer than I expected but it was also a bit too cryptic. Couldn't you say that I was close or way off or something?"
"Pu ku ku. I figured that this roundabout manner of speaking would much more closely approximate my lady's intentions as opposed to simply confirming or denying your pet theories."
"Heh. I guess that's fine. Well, perhaps I can just nip this in the bud. Am I just dreaming?" I hoped the answer to this would be yes, and not just that but for everything in Rokkenjima to be just a dream as well and when I woke up, I'd be on the boat ride off of Rokkenjima with everyone safe and sound.
"This would be quite the elaborate dream then wouldn't it? But if that were the case, I don't see myself nor anyone else admitting that this is a dream, otherwise we'd be at risk of disappearing once you woke up. Pu ku ku ku."
"Gah! Well, I guess that's true. Not many of the people in my past dreams have told me that I was in a dream." However, the 'Ange' in this dream did tell me that I was. So was that proof that this wasn't a dream?
I continued. "I'm not sure I'm getting anything out of this line of inquiry." Ronove seemed to snicker at that. "How about this? How would I go about getting out of this elaborate trick or dream or whatever it is?"
"In the case of the latter, isn't there something you humans usually do when you frantically want to leave a frightening dream?"
I must've given the demon butler a shocked expression as he once again snickered. Doing something like what he was insinuating in such a realistic dream like this was unnerving, particularly in such a peaceful one like this. I remember when I was a kid and I would have nightmares that a scary witch was chasing me, trying to eat me. In dreams where you're being chased, you're often significantly weaker than you would be in real life, but when you knew that it was a dream you always had one defense against the monsters in your nightmares. You could jump off a cliff and that would wake you up from those scary dreams, that is to say you would commit suicide. If this was a dream, I could probably do that and wake up instantly.
"Thanks," I told him. "I'll keep that in mind once Beato starts looking like a squid monster and tries to eat me." Ronove chuckled at this. "So any ideas for why I'm having such an embarrassing dream?" I was going to assume that this was all a dream for now but I did wonder why I was taking a dream so seriously. If it was a dream, I'd probably wake up any minute anyway.
"I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to try to understand Battler-sama's thoughts. Pu ku ku."
"Heh, well if it is a dream then you're probably some aspect of my personality that has taken the form of that annoying witch's furniture. So I give you permission to try to guess why my mind is dreaming this up."
"Perhaps you should ask yourself this first and I, as an 'aspect of your personality', could help guide you."
"Heh. I guess it could probably be as simple as being sick of Beato's game, especially after that terrible trick last game. Maybe I'm just sick of all the mysteries surrounding Rokkenjima and wanted something different that could only be made in a dream. Even Agatha Christie wrote some sappy romane novels in between her much more popular mystery novels right? Ihihi."
"That's an interesting answer. See how much thinking you can do when you try? Pu ku ku."
What a cheeky bastard. "Well this is all useless anyway if it's a dream. I'll ask you again, what should I do if this is an elaborate trick? I'm sure you don't enjoy working at an amusement park much do you? Ihihihi. Tell me and I'm sure that once I'm out, Beato and all of her servants will simply have to return with me."
"Certainly, if milady wishes for me to work in a place like this for the time being then as her furniture that is what I will do. Besides, I find it mildly interesting frightening the guests in that mansion attraction."
"So it was you in the 'Haunted Mansion' ride," I said.
Ronove simply laughed before continuing. "But if this is indeed an elaborate trick then I would imagine milady to have used magic to establish this place. After all, the two of you should only be taking a break before the fourth game. Beatrice-sama probably made this place as a way for the two of you to enjoy yourselves. Pu ku ku ku."
"So what are you saying? Should I just ask Beato, 'Hey thanks for taking me to Delsneyland but I'm a little sick of it now. Mind if we get back to the murders on Rokkenjima.'?"
"Pu kukuku. No, milady appears to have invested much into this place. I wouldn't imagine that she would just let you leave that easily."
"That does sound like something she would do. I feel sorry for the guy who ever decides to take her here on a date," I said ironically, fully aware of my current situation.
"But as I said, Battler-sama, since this place would've been created using magic, that is perfect for you, as a person who so adamantly denies magic. Your very existence opposes witches and it shouldn't be difficult for you to escape," said Ronove.
"So are you saying I should close my eyes, tap the heels of my ruby slippers together, and say 'There's no place like home, magic doesn't exist' until I wake up back to where all the nee-chans with dazzling asses are? Ihihi."
"Pu ku ku. That would probably work if you, yourself, didn't feel so invested in this place. That is to say, your heart wouldn't be in it."
"Why the hell would I feel invested in this place?" I said incredulously.
"Perhaps you've developed feelings for Beatrice-sama and don't wish to disappoint her by leaving. Didn't you also come here with the intention of making a promise with milady? Pu ku ku."
"You must mean this," I said with a bitter smile as I took out a small velvet box and put it on the table. Contained within it was something really stupid. "This thing could also be considered a contract right? How stupid would I have been, to make a contract with a witch? Especially when she tried to get me to sign that stupid thing to trap me in the Golden Land. Ihihi."
"Pu ku ku. Is Battler-sama already having second thoughts about asking milady? You seemed so determined earlier today. You shouldn't fret so much, this is only a proposal; the actual wedding wouldn't come until much later."
"I'll humor you for a second. It's probably the only thing I can do to keep my sanity. …so how should I ask Beato? 'Even though you broke my heart, made it difficult for me to trust anyone ever again, and enjoy torturing me, would you do me the honor of being my wife so that we could repeat this for the rest of our lives?'"
"Battler-sama, I don't imagine a proposal like that working for any other woman. But for milady, it would probably be the most convincing proposal possible."
"Of course, she is a weirdo like that. Ihihi. But damn it, if this is all a dream then I must be fonder of her than I thought, or even care to be. Beato is my enemy and that last game should've reminded me without any doubt that this is the case. So what do you think Ronove, is this a classic case of Stockholm syndrome?"
"Pu ku ku. Your insistence on believing that this is a dream is humorous. But I suppose it is a result of your refusal to believe in this fantasy that milady has built for you."
"Tch. When you say things like that, it really pisses me off," I said.
Ronove ignored that comment. "It is unfortunate. I believe milady once said that those who refuse to believe in fantasy are not qualified to love or to be loved. For milady who has offered you this love, your denial of all of this threaten its very existence."
"So what? Since the idea of the Golden Land was too creepy, Beato decided to replace it with a much more innocuous 'Delsneyland'? That's so sweet; it makes me want to cry," I said, dripping with sarcasm.
"Pu ku ku. Battler-sama says that but he must still feel some attachment to this place and milady if he hasn't left yet. So to leave, you'd probably need to do something that proves your denial of the magic here. But what that could be… I am only milady's furniture so I wouldn't know."
"Damn. I probably am too complacent in my game with Beato. I get to enjoy my time with a beautiful witch while everyone else gets to relive their deaths over and over again. I must be a real glutton for punishment if I can entertain the notion of being with Beato like this. Really, I don't know what to do. Agh! It's useless! It's all useless!"
Suddenly, the person we were talking about showed up. "Battler, you seem to have had fun without me. Fuhihi."
Crap! I quickly grabbed the velvet box that I had left on the table and stuffed it in my jacket. Thankfully, Beato didn't seem to notice.
"Ahaha, y-yeah. I was just chatting with my old friend Ronove here."
"I don't believe we've met," said Ronove as he bowed. "It is a pleasure to meet you. Battler-sama has told me much of you."
What? How could Ronove be so shameless? He knew, and I knew that Beato knew him well. Ronove was her head servant for goodness' sake! What kind of act were these two putting on?
Beato seemed amused by Ronove's antics, or was she simply feigning amusement? "Hoh? Battler's never told me about you. Where do you know him from?"
This was beginning to feel more and more like I was watching two idiots role playing something stupid. Enough was enough; I was going to end this farce right now!
"You want to know how I met Ronove, Beato?" I said in a ticked off manner. "I was introduced to him by y—"
"—By his father. I was a coworker of Rudolph-sama you see," said Ronove. This bastard interrupted me and made up that bullshit.
"And now you're working here?" asked Beato with a doubtful look.
"Pu ku ku. One of my greatest pleasures is entertaining the guests here," replied Ronove.
"I see. Well, it was a pleasure to meet you. Do you mind checking on the status of our food?" It looked as though Beato was dismissing him.
Ronove simply bowed before doing what Beato had asked. I just looked at her questioningly.
"What? Do you think I was too rude to Ronove?" said Beato. It was clear she misinterpreted why I was so bewildered. "He seemed creepy to me."
"Ihihi. Yeah, he is definitely that kind of guy," I said. Beato chuckled at this.
Did Beato really not remember him? Was it possible that she had also had her memories replaced with the fake memories of this world without her knowing it? Just like what happened to me? Looking at her now, she seemed genuine in her unfamiliarity with Ronove. But I wasn't a very good judge of things like that; the last game was proof of this. This meal was going to be very awkward.
It wasn't long before our food arrived. Although it looked nice, I wasn't enjoying it much and so I just ate in silence. Beato was fidgeting in her seat; it looked as though she wanted to talk to me about something. She looked cute like this, but I knew better than most that appearances can be deceiving. Heh, that was the primary obstacle in the game I was playing with Beato after all. However, as a man, I figured that I could at least be civil to my opponent, even if she did play dirty.
"Are you all right Beato? You look a little out of it. Ihihi."
"…ah… can we talk about something, anything? This silence is very awkward for me."
"Heh. Anything you say? Well how about this then. What would you say if I thought everything that was happening now wasn't really happening? What would you say if I thought this whole thing, no matter how nice it might be, is just a dream or worse?" I was a little surprised at where I had decided to take this conversation but Beato's invitation to talk about anything was too difficult to ignore. Of course, I would have to talk about what had been on my mind ever since I regained my memories. Hopefully, this line of questioning would also allow me to infer something.
"Kukuku. That's a creepy philosophical type question. It's the same kind of question that adolescents think about that causes them to have trouble sleeping right? Fuhihi"
"Heh, you're right. It's a dumb question," I said. It seemed that Beato wasn't going to answer. However, I was surprised when she suddenly covered the hand I had rested on the table with her own hand.
"Wait. …muu… I'll answer," said Beato. "Even if this was just a dream, I'd still be happy just having it with you. Even if everything in this world was an illusion, I'm sure that at least these feelings are real right?"
"Beato…" I muttered. Damn it, my stupid male heart had no defense against something like that.
"It's all right Battler. I think I know why you're asking this. You're really nervous right? I caught a bit of what you were talking about with that waiter and I saw what you had put on the table. …mu. I want you to know that if you were to ask me that question, I would probably… no, I would definitely say yes." Beato was wearing a very reassuring face, despite the fact that she seemed nervous as well.
After a pretty girl says something like that, I don't know how any guy would be able to respond. But I wasn't just any guy, I was much dumber.
"Repeat that in red," I said callously.
"Hihi… what do you mean?" Beato looked disappointed at my comment. Was it because she realized that I finally remembered our game and that I wouldn't allow myself to be toyed around with? Or was it because she felt hurt that her heart-felt confession was falling on deaf ears?
Either way, I felt a slight sense of superiority in having an advantage over Beato like this. But of course, Beato wouldn't allow me to have that feeling for long. The second she started rubbing my hand, I felt guilty. I, Ushiromiya Battler, someone who was once her furniture and knew the taste of her shoes as well as continually tortured by her, was made to feel guilty about making her disappointed. Where was that Battler who so heroically saved Rosa-obasan from her torture by slamming this witch's face onto a table? Where did that Battler go? Right now, I was like that Battler who almost lost the game because he wanted to believe the witch and felt fond of her. The Battler who cried for the witch to return, and the Battler that put his back together with the witch. I was that Battler, I didn't learn my lesson at all. I felt sick. It's useless! It's all useless!
What would my family say? That old bastard would probably laugh at me saying something like, 'Ha! You're an embarrassment Battler, letting a broad sink her claws that deeply into you. How would you ever be able to help anyone like that?' Just thinking about the old bastard saying something like that made me realize how childish I really was. Kyrie is smarter than me so she would probably tell me to turn the chessboard over and see what Beato would have to gain by doing this. But the only thing I could come up with is that this is another form of exotic torture that serves no other purpose than for her sick jollies. And then there is Ange… who I somehow met in this place. Is that magic or is she proof that this is a dream? Regardless, she told me to wake up but I don't know how I could do that except for what Ronove suggested. And if Ronove suggested it then I really don't want to do it.
"Thanks Beato," I said at last. "I'm just a bit confused, so could you give me a break for now?"
"I understand," replied Beato. "I just wanted you to know that I enjoy being with you and the idea of us having fun together for much longer… well I'm not repulsed by the idea." She then let go of my hand.
"Well, I'm sorry for bringing in such a depressing air. How about we finish up here and continue our day?" I said. For now, I would do that. Maybe later, something would come to me. Perhaps I could see that 'Ange' again and she could help. But for now, I would just casually accept the absurdity of this dream.
Beato happily agreed to my suggestion. It seemed she would put aside that embarrassing issue for now. Something that, at this point in time, isn't possible.
On our way out of that restaurant, that bastard Ronove 'politely' bowed us out. His 'polite' way of doing things always made it seem as though he was mocking me. This time I got the feeling that he was snickering at me, wondering what human actions I would take against this indomitable witch. Ha! For now, I was going to Delsneyland!
Once outside, I had the immediate urge to go to the restroom.
"Didn't you go to the restroom immediately prior to eating?"
"Yeah, that's true but I only got myself cleaned up then. I need to go for bodily functions this time. Ihihi."
"Chi. You'd talk of such vulgar things in front of me… Fine, go Battler, but don't take too long. We've wasted enough of our day with you having to do this or that."
What an annoying witch. However, this Beato was a lot easier to handle for me, not like the cute one that periodically shows up. Whether those two Beato's were the same, or whether the cute one was just a manufactured personality to put down my guard, I still couldn't say. Regardless, I apologized to her before making my way to the restroom.
Once there, I met that 'helpful' person who pretty much ruined my day at Delsneyland.
"So you still haven't woken up Oniichan?" said Ange, in that creepy monotonous voice.
"I don't know how to wake up. Ronove told me to commit suicide but that sounds crazy, and only an idiot would listen to something like that."
"Most likely, most of what that demon butler said was probably true. You probably need to do something like that to deny the magic of this place."
"What? Magic? You're telling me to swallow bullshit like that? It was easier to swallow when you told me it was just a dream."
"It could still be both. Either way, this place is sustained by the desires of two people, the Endless Witch Beatrice and…"
"You're not seriously telling me that I want to be in this fake place?"
"Such a thing is understandable is it not? You're only human; of course you would want to take a break from trying to wrap your head around mysteries."
"Heh. I did say something like that to Ronove as well. Even a guy like me would get sick of reading mystery novels after a while, but who knew that I'd pick up a corny romance novel instead? Ihihi. But tell me, how do I close this book?"
"You would need to truly deny this place. Such a denial is equivalent to a significant concentration of anti-magic toxins. That would probably do the trick."
"Yeah, Ronove was telling me something like that as well but I thought he was just bullshitting me. Fine, how do I deny this place?"
"Okay, give me a knife. Ihihi."
"No, such a half-hearted denial of your existence here wouldn't be enough."
"We're talking suicide here. I would think stabbing myself would be enough."
"That isn't completely off-track. However, I've done some research and I think the most sure-fire way for you to escape this place is that!" And then Ange pointed at the roller coaster I had been too afraid to ride earlier.
"So you want me to ride that thing?"
"No, you probably need to kill yourself using it."
"You have got to be kidding me," I said. The idea of doing something like that was beyond crazy. I was scared enough just riding that thing, there was no way in hell I'd be able to do something like jump out of it while it was moving.
"Remember Oniichan, why you have to leave here," said Ange and then she handed me a retractable blade. I wasn't supposed to stab myself but the purpose of this blade was pretty clear in my mind. After that, Ange rounded a corner and disappeared once again. I put the blade in one of my pockets.
I recalled the reason I was even playing that game with that witch. I hoped to be able to leave Rokkenjima with everyone and for us to be able to be there when the seagulls cry. I wanted to see Ange again. But because I was continually playing that game with that witch, I would never be able to leave. Isn't this place just like playing that game? I was stuck here. Until, I left this place, I wouldn't be able to continue that game with Beato. Until I defeated her in that game, I wouldn't be able to return home. And just like in that game, to make progress towards getting home, I had to deny the witch whole-heartedly.
That was unfortunate. There was a stupid adolescent part of me that thought the Beato here was cute and wanted to spend a little more time with her. But that part of me also made it difficult for me to face Beato in the game, perhaps this place is a dream and it was helping me to let go of that. I chuckled inwardly at the idea. The theory was very Freudian. But if that was the case then—
"Battler! You always take forever around the restroom," said the witch that had been on my thoughts.
"Sorry, I always seem to get caught up in something around here," I said. Heh, I didn't even get to go to the restroom but that conversation with Ange made me lose the urge to go anyway.
"Are you done?" said Beato in an annoyed manner.
I nodded. It seemed that Beato was back to her annoying self, now if only she started cackling again, her transformation into that witch I hated would be complete.
"That's good," she said. "First I want to go on this ride and that ride and this one." Beato was pointing towards a bunch of the listed attractions on the map. I couldn't make sense of what she was pointing at. However, I knew that I had to escape this idyllic hell.
"Beato, if you don't mind, I would like to try that roller coaster again," I said.
"Hoh? Kukuku. Aren't you afraid? Or are you trying to redeem yourself for earlier?"
"Ihihi. You got me. What kind of a man would I be if I couldn't handle a rocky children's ride?" Although I put on that false show of bravado, I was scared. Risky vehicles were the bane of my existence and yet surprisingly, I wasn't as scared as I was earlier today. The reason for this was simple, earlier today I was afraid of dying. Now, I knew I had to kill myself. Although it probably wasn't death like the way one would usually think, this was probably the same type of 'death' as when those ass nee-chans turned me into scrap meat. Afterwards, I'd just wake up to another nightmare but that was fine, for now I just needed to wake up from this one. Unfortunately, for a nightmare, this was far too pleasant.
I also wondered why I didn't just start beating this Beato up until she came to her senses and let me out. That was probably because she seemed so innocent here, perhaps she was also like me before and simply wasn't aware of everything that had happened before. Of course, the possibility that this was just a ruse was still high but I was given an answer that allowed me to escape without having to risk doing something as unfortunate as lashing out at a lady who didn't know anything. Heh, even if Beato was truly innocent right now, I still wouldn't put it past her that it was some self-imposed memory loss to put on a more convincing show, after all, Ronove still remembered everything. And ultimately, this would all be moot if it was just a dream. If that was the case, I really do want to wake up.
"How nice of a man to try to act brave," said Beato. "As long as you don't start shedding tears and make us wait in line for nothing again."
"I don't intend on wasting anymore of our time, after all, we still have a game to return to."
"Game?" said Beato, not understanding.
"Yeah, game…" I said, even though it was pointless. This Beato was either feigning ignorance or she was truly ignorant; either way I could do nothing. "And you don't need to come with me on the roller coaster; I can handle it on my own. You can go on a different ride if you want." Even though I said this, I knew she would decline, but I hoped to be able to do that in relative peace. Heh, earlier today when I referred to that I meant that embarrassing question I had planned to ask Beato. Now I refer to my own suicide. If this Beato was genuine, I didn't want to put her through any grief. Heh, it was hilarious to me how I could entertain thoughts like that. After all, this was the very same woman who had already destroyed my trust with her.
"I must refuse, the roller coaster seems too interesting to ignore, and if you do start crying, someone needs to comfort you right?" said Beato before giving a light cackle.
"Well, let's go then," I said.
Surprisingly, the line for the ride was a lot less than it was earlier today. For me, that was like a red carpet being rolled out for my return to this ride. The ride operators weren't even the same people as the ones earlier today. It almost seemed too convenient, as though some greater force couldn't wait for me to end my stay here. It would make sense if that was the case. I imagined that some evil being manifested itself as the 'Ange' here to convince me to end everything but such idle thoughts proved how pathetic I was. This unknown being of questionable existence wasn't my enemy, Beato was. And if this was a Freudian dream like I had theorized, then it was absolutely necessary for me to throw all of these fond feelings I had of Beato away. I couldn't make any progress as I was; I had to deny the witch.
During the wait for the ride, Beato made a lot of idle chit-chat with me. For some reason, I found it soothing prior to facing this fear I had of roller coasters. I didn't talk much though; I just nodded politely to whatever Beato had to say. She didn't seem to mind.
It wasn't long before we were at the front of the line. The car that came up this time seemed a lot steadier. I don't know if that really was the case or if my nerves were simply more hardened. Either way, that was good for me. Beato and I would get to sit at the front.
By this point, Beato had stopped talking. She seemed thrilled. As for me, I was a little nervous but I carefully checked the status of things to make sure I could go through with this effortlessly. It would be unfortunate if I botched this and would have to die painfully. I once heard that someone got their leg stuck in a ride like this and the leg had to be amputated. Of course, I personally have gone through much worse but an amputated leg would be pretty inconvenient. Ihihi.
The leather seatbelts that we had to wear, the ones for which I questioned the ability to keep us safe would prove to make things quite convenient for me. 'Ange' had given me a useful tool for breaking apart one of the things that kept me in this world. I could use that retractable blade while the ride was at its top most height, and just jump out. Although I was planning this very methodically in my mind, I was probably shaking quite a bit because Beato suddenly held my hand.
"You don't have to be scared," she said. "I won't let you die before you ask me that question. I want to know how much I mean to you right? That's my magic, since I declared that nothing bad will happen to you then nothing will."
"Thank you," I said politely before taking my hand away from hers. It was funny to me how she could talk of magic. Using chessboard thinking, the innocence she displayed in reference to that frightening thing, that would be proof that at that moment, she wasn't a witch. However, chessboard thinking didn't apply to people like Beato.
The ride operators then pressed a button and the car we were in started moving. It wouldn't be long until I was at the peak of the height of the ride. Before that time, I would need to quickly cut my seatbelt and leave this place. To anyone else, I could be seen as crazy for something like this. But I, Ushiromiya Battler, have seen so much crazy crap that something like this couldn't even compare.
There! I was close to the top. I quickly took out that blade and cut my seatbelt. It was done, I could now leave my seat and if I didn't do it quickly, I would definitely be propelled out of it soon enough.
"Beato," I said, unable to leave without saying something cool, although it would probably be lame. "If you're genuine, show me this side of you more often. If you're faking it, then see you later." And I jumped out of the car, at this height I would definitely die if this was real. But ever since I began that game with Beato, nothing, not even death could be trusted.
On my way down, I took one last glance at that girl I was so fond of in this fleeting dream. Everything began to have an ethereal quality. The last thing I saw was Beato's eyes grow wide as she realized what had just happened.
Sorry Beato, but this was a really silly dream. When I wake up, I'll continue the game with you.
Everything felt really hazy. It felt like I had been asleep for some time. It wasn't like when a person falls asleep and instantly wakes up, as it's depicted in TV shows in other things. There's a kind of lag as a person wakes up, and I was in that lag. However, a voice was slowly bringing me out of it.
It was a woman's voice. It was a pleasant thing to wake up to but as my senses came back to me, I began dreading it more and more. It was that witch of course, Beato. That's right, I had a game I needed to finish with her. That last one was just another draw, I had almost accepted her but a red haired girl pulled me out of it. Come to think of it, didn't another red haired girl help pull me out of another sticky situation just now?
"Battler? You don't look well at all. Perhaps you should rest a bit?" said Beato. I wasn't able to detect any sarcasm in her voice but that didn't mean it wasn't there.
And then she did something unexpected, she touched the side of my face with her hand.
"…Uh… that's okay," I said. And then I touched her wrist and moved her hand off of me. I hated when Beato was like this. I was a guy; didn't she know it was very confusing for me? But she probably did, that's why she did it.
"What is…?" I whispered. I noticed something on her hand, specifically her ring finger. At first, my still hazy self laughed inwardly for a bit thinking, 'Have I been playing games with a married woman all this time? I should probably find her husband, and then maybe I could escape her. Ihihihi.' But I remembered this ring… rather, this ring made me remember what I had just gone through.
It seemed Beato noticed me looking intently at the ring and she misinterpreted why I was looking at it. "It's surprising isn't it Battler? I remember when you asked me that question, you were so nervous. Fufufu. But it was really a magical moment. And now, it will only be another month before we have the ceremony."
"Beato," I said. "Why are you doing this? What do you have to gain by doing all of this? Don't tell me you're doing it just because you're bored. I won't accept a crappy answer like that."
"What are you talking about Battler? If this is a joke, it's not very funny," she said as she pulled her hand away from me. Apparently I had still been holding it. However, it seemed she would simply pretend as though I was being crazy or something. This kind of strategy was often employed by this witch, acting as though I was too stubborn to accept bullcrap like magic, as though I was the crazy one for not accepting something as absurd as magic and witches. And now too crazy to accept whatever the hell this was supposed to be.
"Enough Beato!" And then I pointed at her, as if that would penetrate all the illusions here. "Why are we here?" I didn't have the heart to do this in Delsneyland, but one guy can only take enough madness before he starts pointing fingers.
"We're here because I thought this would be a nice place to be. I always wanted to go to an aquarium…" Beato seemed to have small tears in the corners of her eyes, but she had answered a different question than what I had asked. So this wouldn't stop me.
However, I did take a second to fully appreciate my surroundings. Indeed, we were in some kind of aquarium. There were a lot of tanks full of water and sea creatures here as if someone had taken sections from the ocean and placed them here for us to enjoy. In addition to these little oceans, there were also a lot of people walking around. It looked as though some were looking at me while others just kept walking forward; no, they were walking away from this scene I was making. Ihihi. This entire illusion was rather convincing.
"No, Beato," I said. "That's impossible. There are only two places I should be at the moment: Rokkenjima or your crazy mansion. This place is neither of those so I ask you again, why are we here when I just jumped out of a roller coaster?"
"Battler, please maybe you should rest for a moment. You're behaving in a very delusional manner."
She was still keeping up with this farce. I lowered my hand and put it into my pocket. Would I have to slam her face against one of these fish tanks and force her to dissipate into golden butterflies to escape this insanity?
"Sir?" said a new person. It looked like he was someone that worked here, perhaps one of the people here had complained about this scene or something like that. "Perhaps the lady is right. It might be best if you stepped outside. The atmosphere here has been known to make people a little light-headed."
I didn't answer, I said nothing. I simply kept my gaze on Beatrice.
After a few moments, Beato asked, "Battler? Are you going to answer him or are you going to just stand there?"
"Answer who? I don't see anyone talking to me except you," I said resolutely. This is what I was going to do to deny the illusion of this place. I would pretend that it doesn't even exist. I wasn't sure, but it felt like that time I had erected an anti-magic barrier against those Siestas. Yes, it felt like something like that was surrounding me.
Beato's face carried a look of concern as she continued to look at me. How would she respond to what I had just said? Ihihihi. This would be interesting. And then that look of concern on Beato's face was replaced. It changed to a variety of faces, uncertainty, resolution. It finally settled on a face I was very familiar with, one of complete derision. And after that, a golden pipe appeared in Beato's hand. She then slowly put it to her mouth and inhaled it exactly once.
"I see. I see," said Beato. "So you're tired of this, Ushiromiya Battleerrr? Fuhihihahahaha. Oh well, I had fun seeing you completely confused, like a toy that walks but had been toppled over. Any questions before we return to our game?"
"Yeah. Why did you do this? The elaborateness of it all pisses me off."
"Isn't it better to be deceived by those we love, than in being undeceived by them?"
"What a crappy answer… Isn't that a Lord Byron quote?"
"Indeed. I am surprised an incompetent fool like you knows of him."
"Ihihihi. I think I just read it in a manga once. But you have one thing wrong."
"Hoh? What could I be wrong in?"
"It's that I don't count you among my loved ones."
"Are you still pretending that Battler? I suppose your gigantic ego, one that espouses logic and reason, is unable to reconcile the fact that you are in love with a witch. Tell me Battler, as one who has known the taste of my shoes, isn't the taste of my lips much more pleasing to you? Kukukuku."
"That's hard to say… I'll admit your lips did taste better than your shoes, but only by a little bit. However, if you cleaned your shoes more often, your shoes would definitely rank 100 places above your lips. Ihihihi. Also, I was probably pretty drunk at the time… I mean, both when I licked your shoes and when I kissed you."
"Tch. You still joke even though, because of your denial, this place can no longer continue."
After she said this, I took a look around to see what she meant. Indeed, this once bustling place was now completely deserted. And not just of people but even the fish tanks were all empty. Such a sight would usually be unnerving, but I was certain that meant I could leave soon.
"Do you want to know Battler?" said Beato, "…why this place is dying?"
"Do I want to?"
"It's because you refuse to believe, even in love, you refuse to believe. Delsneyland was so much better because you felt so blissful being with me."
"Sounds like ignorance to me."
"Do I even need to say it? Beato said, referencing that age old quote regarding ignorance and bliss. "Delsneyland... that was an interesting place. After that interesting last game, I always wanted to see how your magic would manifest itself. Would you make a crazy place not unlike the madness of Rokkenjima? Would it be a perpetually peaceful place where there is no war or strife? And yet, you simply made a place that already exists in reality and you decided to share it with me. It was funny, yet probably because it was shared with me that I was able to help sustain it. But Battler, contrary to my... hopes, people like you, with that anti-magic toxin running through their veins, and their refusal to believe in fantasy… these people are not qualified to love or to be loved!"
"Yeah, yeah… I already heard it from your stupid servant. As for the rest of what you were saying, it just sounds like a lot of bullcrap to me."
"Let me make it simple for your feeble mind. You were always my favorite toy Battler, and it was like how little girls want their toys in their tea parties to talk back to them. My favorite toy could do that. With my Endless Magic, I could help my favorite toy that seems to be so fond of its master do that by showing me a glimpse of what his magic could envision. But fine then. This place will be done with soon enough. You and I can return to that game you seem to love much more than me. Fufufu. It's humorous, even though your grandfather played a terrible game of roulette just to gamble everything to be with me; you, for whom it falls so easily into your lap, refuse it."
"Heh. About my grandfather, I've got a theory I can tell you about once we start the next game."
"Hoh? I see, that's fine. Well then Ushiromiya Battler, I had fun playing with my toy in that dead amusement park and this dying aquarium. It was a very fun interlude that could only be created from the twisted relationship between two opponents in a game. Did you also find it fun?"
"I'd tell you but I have to remember that you're my enemy. I can't simply say things like that; it would compromise me like in our last game."
"I see. That is… unfortunate." Beato then began laughing loudly. This wasn't her usual cackling, this laughter resembled that of a madman's who could do nothing more than laugh as his crime was discovered and he was surrounded by the police. It was that kind of laugh.
'What's her problem?' I thought. Beato truly was an odd person, really, there didn't seem to be anything to laugh about. However, my eyes casually fell upon her left ring finger. That ring… hehe. Suddenly, I also felt like laughing and so I did. I laughed loudly. It seemed that Beato laughed even louder, not willing to be outdone. So of course, I laughed even louder.
Beato and I, we were just two crazy people laughing loudly even as the floor beneath our feet started to disappear. And yet, I was a little regretful. Perhaps it would've been nice to just have accepted this fantasy for a little while longer. Oh we—
"Battler-sama, breakfast is ready. Pu ku ku." It was that annoying butler.
"Be quiet, I'm trying to sleep. I was having such a crazy dream too but now I can't remember it at all. Thanks a lot," I said sarcastically.
"Of course. I will leave breakfast on the table for when you are ready," said Ronove. And then he disappeared.
It was difficult to return to sleep once it is interrupted, and that was the case for me now. I could've sworn I had a pretty interesting dream but I couldn't remember it anymore. Oh well. I went to get breakfast but then an annoying ass nee-chan showed up.
"Kya-hahahahaha!!! If Battler-ku-n is too sl~ow to wake up in the morning then people who are able to wake up should be allowed to enjoy breakfast first. It looks like such a good croissant too!" It was the stake of gluttony, Beelzebub and she had just stolen my croissant!
"Damn you!" I yelled as I began chasing her around.
A/N: Any questions?