Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, and don't expect this to become an Epic Story; this will just be a three-shot. It's an idea I've had for a while now.

Part One: The Witch's Idea

It was a calm and peaceful day. Battler and Beato had each taken their seats in the meta-world and were sitting across each other, just about ready for the next game to start. Yet they were not ready for the next game to start. They had a nice, long break in between games and did not want this peace to end. But they knew they had to carry on, if they wanted this to end.

Beato, however, had other plans in mind.

"Beato," spoke Battler, "when do you plan on, uh...getting this game started?"

It was then that Beato's mouth twitched before spreading into a grin that terrified Battler. He knew by that look on her face that she had something up her sleeve, and he did not want to know what.

"In time, Battler, in time," said Beato nonchalantly. "Right now, though...I think we need a break."

"But we just had a break," said Battler, deciding not to get his hopes up that the witch would declare a cease fire.

"Oh yes, we had a break in our own little world," said Beato. "However, during that break, I have had plenty of time to watch more anime and read more manga. And eventually, I realized a pattern: At one point or another, there is a 'beach episode'—an episode where the characters either go to a pool or to a beach, where they either take a break from the main plot so that the producers or artists have an excuse to show these characters half-naked in hopes of raking in more viewers for the next episode; or for some sort of advancement to the plot. Often, it's a combination of the two."

Battler was beginning to realize where she was going with this, and his suspicions were confirmed when Beato said: "I have noticed in our games that no one has ever gone swimming in the ocean surrounding Rokkenjima, despite there being a beach and water. Don't you think it's a real shame to see such wonders go to waste? Therefore...I have weaved a special tale of my own, involving the sands and water...and of course, the use of witches."

Battler shrugged, "As long as you don't make my piece wear a speedo, I'm okay with it."

Beato laughed, "Oh, I think that can be arranged."

Battler grumbled and slid down further in his seat, wishing he had kept his mouth shut.

October 4, 1986

It was a beautiful day on Rokkenjima. The sun was shining upon the deep blue sea, making it all the more alluring to those who arrived. It was not long after the arrival of the family members that they all decided to go down to the beach and have a swim before lunch.

"Uu! Maria wants to swim, Maria wants to swim, uu!" cried out Maria as she darted across the sand, wearing a cerulean bathing suit for girls. Before she could run out into the ocean, however, Rosa (wearing a light blue one-piece) scooped Maria up in her arms and scolded, "Not yet, Maria. We have to wait for the other cousins to arrive."

"Patience, Maria, patience," said George as he ran up to the mother-daughter pairing, wearing a pair of yellow swimming trunks. "The others are taking their time to get ready. Jessica will be down in a minute or two. Battler, however, will be taking his time."

"Oh?" said Rosa. "How come?"

"Well, it appears he misplaced his bathing suit," said George. "He swears he packed it just underneath his underwear in his suitcase, but when he unpacked, he found nothing. I suggested he could borrow my pair while I just sit on the beach and watch, but he insisted that he did not want to hold me back from having fun with everyone else. He told me to get a head start first, and he'll catch up in a few minutes. Ah, here's Jessica."

Jessica came running down to the beach, wearing a fuchsia floral bikini and sunglasses. "George-aniki," she said, "Battler is almost ready to come down...except..."

"Uu, why can't Battler just swim naked?" asked Maria.

"Maria!" gasped Rosa, but George and Jessica both laughed. Jessica said, "Somehow, I don't think he's quite ready for that! I know he'd love it if us girls were naked, though, if the way he tried to grope Shannon earlier is any indication..."

"So Jessica," said George, "what is it you were about to say? Battler's almost ready to come down?"

"Yeah," said Jessica slowly, "but...well, he searched through his parents' suitcases in hopes that he had accidentally packed his bathing suit in one of those two. Uncle Rudolf walked in on him while he was searching through his, and told Battler that if he could not find his own bathing suit, then he was more than welcome to one of his father's. Only..."

"Let me guess," sighed Rosa. "Rudolf packed all speedos, didn't he?"

Jessica nodded, stifling a laugh. "Well anyway, Battler insisted he'd try to find it anyway. About ten minutes later, he decided he wanted to get down to the beach, but...he wants to swim in his underwear. Right now, he and Uncle Rudolf are having a fierce debate over how to handle the situation. The worst part of their argument was over when I left. I think he should be coming down real soon."

"Ah, Rudolf," sighed the voice of Kyrie as she approached the group, wearing a white bathing suit that tied up in the back, "Sometimes, I wonder why I married him...if Battler wants to go swimming in his underwear, let him swim in his underwear! Bathing suits are no different than underwear. A bikini is just a glorified brassiere with panties."

At this, Jessica's face reddened and she changed the subject: "So, uh...do you know if the servants or any of the other adults will be coming down or not?"

"Well, the last time I checked, Rosa, Rudolf and I were the only ones who thought to bring our bathing suits," said Kyrie. "So Eva and Hideyoshi won't be coming down. And your dear mother is having a horrible headache right now, Jessica, and your father is staying behind to take care of her. Dr. Nanjo, too, will be staying with Natsuhi. As for the others, I'm not sure. I think the rest of the servants will be staying behind, but I think either Kanon or Shannon will be coming down together. You know, those two really are strange...during the years I have visited here, I have never seen those two together in the same room. Sometimes, I wonder if they are, in fact, one and the same, if one of them is cross-dressing or—"

"Uu! There's Uncle Rudolf!" piped up Maria, pointing to Rudolf, who came walking down the path to the sand wearing a dark green speedo, his chest and able body glistening in the sun. Had he not been anyone's uncle or husband or father, there would have been massive nose bleeds to turn the sand from a faint white-beige colour into a deep red.

"Handsome as ever, I see!" declared Kyrie.

Rudolf ran up to Kyrie and gave her a peck on the cheek. "Sorry I took so long," he said. "I had to persuade my son for a little bit."

"Oh Rudolf, let him wear what he wants," said Kyrie.

"Too late for that now," grinned Rudolf. He called out over his shoulder, "Son! Hurry up!"

It took about a minute or two before Battler came into full view. Sure enough, he was wearing one of Rudolf's speedos—a black one—and Battler had to use one hand to keep the back from riding up his rear.

The sight was both ridiculous and pitiful. It was ridiculous enough to make the other cousins want to laugh. It was also pitiful enough for them to show compassion and restrain.

"You old bastard," growled Battler as he ran over to the cousins. "I'll bet you stole my trunks and threw them in the ocean while we were riding over here on the boat, didn't you? And you did it to teach me a lesson..."

"Look, I don't know how many times I have to go over this with you, but I swear I did nothing to your luggage from the time we left home to when you unpacked it," said Rudolf, throwing his hands up in defence. "If you somehow forgot them—"

"And I didn't," said Battler exasperatedly, haven gone over this at least a thousand times with Rudolf, "it was the first thing to go into the suitcase, right beneath my underwear pile."

"Or," said Rudolf, "if you somehow lost them despite them being in your suitcase the entire time, that is because of your incompetence, not mine."

Battler sulked. Maria said, "Uu, Battler, know what will make you feel better? A swim into the ocean, uu!"

"I...I guess we can go for a dip in the water now," said Battler, beginning to get his spirits back up. "That's what we came for, right?"

As if going for a swim had been the answer all along, Battler's mood began to improve as he played together with the cousins in the water. He took his mind off his worries and decided to just have fun.

"Uu! Maria's got it! Maria's got it! Uu!" cried out Maria as she ran after the beach ball she and the cousins tossed around in the water.

"Be careful where you swim, Maria!" said George, keeping an eye on Maria to make sure she didn't accidentally swim anywhere too deep. She was a fairly good swimmer, but was not ready to handle anything deeper from what she was used to.

It looked as though Maria was going to swim out too far, but she managed to pick up the ball and wade back over with it before it swam out of her reach. She rolled it over to Battler and said, "Uu! Your turn, Battler!"

"Thank you, Maria," said Battler, smiling. "You know, I'll bet you'll look very attractive in a bikini ten years from now, ihihi. Promise you'll put on a bikini just for me when you're older and have grown breasts, okay?"

"Uu! Promise!" said Maria eagerly.

"Battler," said Jessica warningly, but George only laughed, "Just make sure Aunt Rosa doesn't hear you and you'll be fine."

Battler picked up the ball and threw it over to George. Yes, everything was going just splendidly indeed. Everything was nice and peaceful...everyone was having fun...and everyone was happy...

Part of Battler wished he had stuck around instead of going off to live with his maternal grandparents during those six years. Jessica was a slight tease, but she could be sweet...almost like that 'tsundora' type, only more like the type that was sweet yet held an angry persona. George was much like an older brother. And Maria, sweet little Maria, odd as she may be, could put a smile on anyone's face.

Yet he supposed the time he spent apart from his family was what made him all the more grateful to be with his cousins now, playing with them in the water, pretending they hadn't a care in the world.

Just as long as they kept Maria from swimming out too far...

"Ah! Sorry!" said Jessica quickly when she knocked the ball a bit too far and it went out further in the ocean than it had the last time. "Just wait one minute, Maria; I'll go get it."

"Uu, hurry back!" called out Maria as Jessica began to swim out, but as she did, the ball rolled even further out to sea. Fortunately for everyone, Jessica was a very good swimmer, and this did not stop her from swimming out to the ball.

However, as Jessica began to edge further out into the sea, something...odd...happened.

Something very, very odd.

The ball suddenly stopped in its tracks and began to roll back over to Jessica, causing her to stop in her tracks. "H—huh?" she said, confused. She picked the ball up in her hands and began swimming back over to the cousins and said, "Did...did you all just see that?"

"Yes," said George, stroking his chin. "Very peculiar, very peculiar indeed..."

"Well, it's a weird phenomenon," shrugged Battler. "But at least we have the ball back, and that is what matters. Now, if we could just pick up from where you left off, Maria..."

"Uu, Maria knows why it happened," said Maria. "It happened because Beatrice saw the ball rolling out to sea and made it roll back over to us, uu."

Battler lightly chuckled, "Now Maria, if you are talking about that woman Genji was telling us about earlier, the one who is supposedly a witch..."

"Uu, she is a witch," insisted Maria. "And she's standing right there!"

Battler decided to play along with Maria's claims. He laughed and began to turn around as he spoke: "All right, then, I'll just have to say to her—"

He froze.

For standing right there before him on the sands of the beach was the Endless Witch, Beatrice, with her pipe in one hand, her hair up in its usual bun with a pretty red rose neatly decorating one side of her head. To top it all off, she was wearing a black bikini.

It did not, in any way whatsoever, make her look any less intimidating or astounding as Battler stood there, his mouth gaping.

"Something wrong, Ushiromiya Baattleeerrr?" teased the witch, who let out an inelegant, witchy laugh, indicating that the adventure of today had just begun.