Part Three: The Witch's Conclusion
"Well, things just took a turn for the worse," remarked Battler in the meta-world. "I have to say, though, I find it pretty strange that you, of all people, would get into such a predicament. You're an otherwise tough girl who gives her enemies hell, yet you conveniently get yourself stuck underwater and can't get out? Ihihi, I can see where this is going already."
"So...you don't like it?"
Battler was surprised by the tone of disappointment in Beato's voice, and the matching look in her eyes. "Well, uh, I wouldn't say I dislike it," he said carefully. "I just find it kind of...well...unusual."
Beato's look changed into one of irritation. "Fine," she snapped. "If that's how you feel, then I'll just end the story right here. It will end with my drowning, and you forever living with the regret that you could not save me."
Alarmed, Battler said quickly, "Wait, don't end it right there! Beach episodes are supposed to be fun! And light-hearted, even in the midst of a heavy-handed plot! Don't think I haven't checked out some of that manga you've been reading. No, I think it would be terribly depressing and inappropriate to end a beach episode on such a tragic note. In fact, I'd be too depressed to want to play through our next real game."
Beato blinked. "So...you really care if I live or die, huh? You want me to continue this story?"
She looked so cute when she said this. She looked like a porcelain doll with wide eyes and a small smile. Battler said, "Well...I just think the story should end on a light-hearted, happy note, that's all. Maybe someone could, I don't know, dive in and save you from a watery grave or something like that? And maybe end it on a note of comic relief?"
"I...I'm glad to hear that, Battler," said Beato, thinking to herself, And I thought I was the only tsundere around here...
October 4, 1986
"Okay, Beato, you've had your fun," called out Battler on the beach. "You can come up now! What do you plan on doing, splashing me with water and then claiming you're a mermaid all of a sudden, ihihi?"
He waited five more seconds, waiting for the blonde-haired witch to burst to the surface cackling. When no one came to the surface, he said a bit louder, "All right, Beato! If that's how you feel, I'm leaving!"
He thought that this would give her cause to swim up the surface for sure. He squinted his eyes and looked out to sea, where he saw small bubbles on the surface of the water...then they dissolved.
"Beato?" said Battler, suddenly concerned. "BEATO!"
There was no response.
"Oh shit," muttered Battler. He ran into the water, running further and further until he could swim right off the sandy ground and dove underwater.
He swam down further and further, looking left to right, until he saw it: Beato floating underwater with her foot caught in a fishing net, her eyes closed.
Please don't let me be too late, Battler thought as he swam up to the net and gently managed to pry Beato's foot out of it. She began to sink further, but Battler grabbed her and swam to the surface, where upon he took a deep breath of air and swam up to the beach.
As soon as he reached the shore, he gently lay Beato down in the sand. The red rose in her hair, amazingly enough, was not damaged too badly from the wetness. A few strands of loose hair clung to her wet cheeks, which Battler gently stroked away.
Her eyes were still closed, her lips slightly parted, and she did not move a muscle. Battler hoped she hadn't drowned, trying desperately to remember that CPR course he had taken a while back. What was it he was supposed to do in the event of rescuing a person who was drowning that lost consciousness, yet might still be alive?
Then he remembered—aw crap, he thought. But hey—it's either injure my dignity, or lose her life. And I couldn't live with myself if I let my own pride get in the way of saving a human life.
He took a careful look around her face to make sure there were no foreign objects in the way. And when he parted her lips with his hands, there were no other objects in her mouth, either.
Battler used one of his hands to pinch the airway in her nose, and the other to steady himself. He thought, Well...here's hoping those CPR lessons were useful for something...
Without a second thought of hesitation, he clamped his mouth over hers and breathed air into her mouth, and hopefully into her lungs. He closed his eyes, thinking how this wasn't as bad as he thought it was.
You won't become her lover because of this, he kept telling himself as he continued to breathe into Beato. If she wakes up, she'll probably go back to normal and continue to taunt you over witches. Yeah...this won't change a thing. It's not a real kiss...technically...of course it's not!
"That was the best concert I've ever seen in my life, Rudolf-san!" gasped Belphegor as she and Rudolf took a stroll down the beach.
"Eh, I've got to hand it to the old man," said Rudolf, having gotten over his initial shock. "When he goes for something, he goes all out! Of course, I can be similar in bed and—"
He froze mid-step. He had just spotted a most magnificent sight. He silently pointed it out to Belphegor, who gasped.
They had just seen Battler lean over Beato, who was lying down on the sand, with his mouth clamped over her lips.
Rudolf turned to Belphegor and hissed, "Quick—we have to go up to the guest house and get condoms! No, on second thought, you stay and make sure it doesn't go further than it already has."
"Um...okay," said Belphegor nervously. She stood where she was while Rudolf ran off. She could almost swear she heard him mutter something about "a lucky lay".
"Uu, what's this?"
Maria had seen Belphegor standing still, and had now taken a closer glance herself. She gasped and giggled, "Kihihihi...what's Beato going to say when she wakes up?"
"I...I don't know," said Belphegor slowly. "Hopefully, she'll switch over to 'dere'; I can only imagine what would happen if her 'tsun' mode increased ten fold..."
They were soon joined by Jessica and George, who each gasped, yet stood back the same distance as Maria and Belphegor.
"My, my, who would've thought our beloved Battler could ever have it in him?" murmured an amused Jessica.
"Even Sayo and I haven't gotten that far yet," said George glumly.
They were soon joined by the other six stakes, who all gathered around Belphegor, each giggling and poking each other in anticipation, waiting for the couple to make another advancement.
Please wake up, Battler silently pleaded. Please, please wake up...it's not that I'm not enjoying this, really; it's just that...you were actually kind of fun...and if I lost you...things would be a lot more boring around here...
Battler, curious to see if he was making any progress at all, opened up his eyes. It was at that moment that Beato's eyes burst wide open and she gasped. Battler quickly backed off of her, giving her room to promptly sit up and cough.
"Beato," said Battler quickly, "are you all right?"
Beato took a gasp of air and said, "Well...I'm not dead." She blinked in curiosity. "Did...did you just...save my life?"
"Well, I couldn't just stand there and watch someone drown," said Battler slowly.
"Not even me?" said Beato.
"Not even you," said Battler. He wasn't sure just what possessed him to do so, but he leaned in and gave Beato a quick peck on the cheek.
It was then that he heard the gasps and giggles...and Rudolf screaming, "Hold your horses, I got the condoms! Oh, and Kyrie also brought..."
Battler whipped around to see the gathering crowd, and Rudolf and Kyrie joining the crowd. He felt his face go warm. "Were you all standing there the entire time?"
"Battler, I refuse to let my lectures on safe sex go wasted on you, and that is that!" said Rudolf firmly. He ran up to the couple, the crowd following close behind, and shoved the pack into Battler's hand.
Blushing, Battler cried out, "Like hell we were going to do that! Do you really think we would...where everyone else can see?"
"Like father, like son," said a smiling Kyrie.
Battler shot up to his feet and began, "Just let me explain—what?" he said impatiently when everyone's eyes grew wide, and Maria's grin became a lot creepier.
"Kihihihi," said Maria creepily. "Look out at the ocean, Battler."
Thinking Maria had finally lost it, Battler turned to look out at sea...
His speedo was floating right in the middle of the water.
Then he looked back at himself.
"OH GOOOOOOOD!" screeched Battler as he covered up the family jewels with his hands, now completely mortified, fully realizing just how truly bad the situation had looked to everyone else just seconds before.
"What's going on here?"
Rosa, having been the only one to completely miss out on the excitement, ran up to the sight—and promptly covered up the grinning Maria's eyes while not entirely succeeding in averting her own.
"You should've seen it," sighed Asmodeus dreamily. "There you were, lying just above her naked, kissing her open-mouthed while she lay sprawled on the beach in her bikini, overwhelmed with passion—it was like something out of a romance novel!"
Beelzebub smiled. "I'm feeling...hungry."
Battler screamed to the heavens, "IT'S USELESS, IT'S ALL USELEEEEEEESSSSS!"
"Shut up, brat," snickered Rudolf. "I've been to nude beaches before. You wouldn't last ten seconds on one!"
"Rudolf, don't be so harsh," said Kyrie, though she was smiling. "I'm sure it must be mortifying for Battler to suddenly find himself exposed in front of the entire family, and in front of the witch's guests."
"Hey, what about me?" cried out Gohda. "Don't I matter?"
"Of course you matter, Gohda-san!" squealed Beelzebub, latching herself onto Gohda. "Let's go back to the kitchen now, kyahaha!"
Gohda smiled at everyone before bursting into gold alongside Beelzebub.
Battler moaned and fell to his knees. His dignity was injured surely now; he'd never be able to face the entire family ever again.
He felt a hand rub him on the shoulder, and a voice saying, "Muu, I don't think you look that bad naked, Battler. In fact, you look a lot like Kinzo in his younger days..."
"Don't start with me, you witch!" cried out a despondent Battler. At this point, it was all too easy to feel sorry for the poor young man.
He was surprised to suddenly find Beato handing him the swimming trunks that had been packed up and 'lost'. He turned to her suspiciously, suspecting some form of ulterior motive.
But she simply said, "That is your reward for saving my life, and for acknowledging me as a witch. And that is all. It's not like I felt sorry for you, or anything."
"Right," said Battler slowly as he slipped the trunks on and up to just below his belly button. "Thank you, Beato. But I didn't actually acknowledge you as a witch; I just called you a witch."
"What's the difference?" scoffed Beato.
"As much as I'd hate to interrupt this young love blossoming," said Kyrie, "when Rudolf and I checked the clock in the guest house, it was just twenty minutes to lunchtime. I think it is about time we all headed back up. If nothing else, Battler, your trunks will keep you well-clothed until we head back up."
"Right," Battler muttered, getting up to his feet at the same time Beato did. "Well, then...shall we be off?"
Beato smiled. "I'll see you again the next time you come down for a swim, Ushiromiya BAATLEEERRR!"
And with that, she and her stakes all burst into gold butterflies and disappeared. Battler turned to his family and said sharply, "As far as we're concerned, none of this ever happened, got that?"
Everyone nodded. But Battler knew, deep down, he would never, ever forget his unique experience with the Sea of the Golden Witch.
In the meta-world, Beato grinned. "Well, Battler? How did you like it? Did it turn out just as you hoped it would, hmm?"
Battler scoffed, "Well, apart from getting sick comedy out of exposing me to my entire family, yes, it turned out exactly as I had hoped."
"Aww, but you have to admit, you were glad to see me survive, weren't you?" said Beato, swinging her feet back and forth before crossing one leg over the other.
"Yeah, I guess," shrugged Battler. "The part with Grandfather singing that song was pretty wild. I liked that. All in all, I'd say it was a nice, refreshing break from the usual activity."
"And what is it we say when we appreciate what another person has done for us, hmm?" said Beato teasingly.
Battler sighed, "All right: Thank you, Beato. That was a really fun story."
"Good," said Beato. "I'm glad you think so." Then, "So...until the next game...shall we be off to Kuwadorian?"
"Sure," said Battler. "I'm up for anything we can do with our spare time over there..." He grinned. "As long as we do not go down to the beach!"
A/N: So yeah, no fancy quote or credit song, seeing how this is only three chapters, and has always been intended as a threeshot...
I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!