Notes: Breaking up sucks. Here's to escapism! I got a bit tired of Laharl and Flonne, so instead it's another pairing I don't like at all and hate writing about.
You know, one day, to make up for all this, I'll write the absolute most depressing and grimdark Disgaea fic ever. Just you wait.
It was safe to say that Mao's private library was so large it was absurd. Of course, it was safe to say that most things about Mao were pretty absurd. Still, in an almost-infinite plane of the Netherworld which consisted entirely of the school which he was now the Dean and Overlord of, Mao's city-sized library stood out as ridiculous, even more so when one considered that Mao had perfectly memorized the location of every single book within it. This was made even more impressive by the library's...non-standard method of organization. Which is to say that everything was scattered about at random. Technically, anyone was allowed into the library, but most stayed away, for fear of becoming lost for all eternity wandering between the bookshelves. And, this being an Overlord's library, there was no guarantee that none of the books weren't both sentient and actively malevolent.
Which is why it surprised Mao to hear a familiar female voice calling his name from somewhere over by the spot where he'd left Overlord Zetta's autobiographical manga. He sped over to the source of the voice, annoyed. "Can't you see I'm very busy, Beryl?"
All Raspberyl could see was that Mao had a sticky note stuck to his head, so she wisely chose not to comment. She tried to avoid his eyes as she replied, "This'll only take a second, Mao. I need a book and I don't know where to find it."
Mao sighed. This was seriously cutting into the time he'd set aside to read Tears of a Steel Moon, a story about a secret agent trying to rid the world of nuclear weapons joining forces with a team of schoolgirls with magic powers trying to save the world from a vaguely evil legion of bad guys. For science, of course. "Can't this wait?"
Raspberyl shook her head vehemently. "I really need help, Mao! Please?"
And for whatever reason, she looked up at him as she said this, and Mao could see, just for a second before she turned her head away again, that she looked like she had been crying. She was breathing heavily. Could she be sick?
And because Mao didn't like seeing his friends unhappy, he agreed. "Okay, okay. I'll help you. What book do you need?"
"I need Big Bub's Guide to Medical Stuff."
"B. Z. Bub?"
Mao scoffed. "What do you want that for? I thought you already knew about medicine from volunteering at the hospital."
"Well..." Raspberyl said nervously. "Someone's having some symptoms I've never seen before. I just want to learn about it on my own."
Mao shrugged. So that was it: she was probably all bent out of shape caring over someone else who was sick. "Whatever. I'll go get it."
It only took him about five minutes to find the book (it had been wedged in between Beyond Good and Evil and What Do Demons Do All Day?) and get it back to Raspberyl. "Here you go. So, who's sick?"
Raspberyl took the book from him gratefully, though not without some difficulty, as it was about as large as she was. "Oh, uh, no one you know. Thanks, Mao. I'll get it back to you soon!"
"Whatever," said Mao as he walked away. There was research to be done.
And that night, research was what Raspberyl was doing. It took her a while, since the symptoms she was experiencing were common in a lot of problems.
Periodic shortness of breath, increase in temperature, inability to meet a certain person's gaze, increased heart rate... Raspberyl tried to recount them all, and was horrified when she arrived at the result.
"The T-Virus?" she yelled aloud. "Oh, wait," she said as she read further. Apparently that one also required bleeding from the eyes for a diagnosis, and her eyes felt fine. That couldn't be it. And that left only one possible solution.
Most of the text was written in the usual style of a medical guide, except for this one entry, with Dr. Bub's typed-out technical language dropped in favor of a hand-written page dotted with hearts and rainbows, which simply read "You're in love, you idiot. Try holding hands."
"Well," said Raspberyl huffily as she shut the book, "that was just uncalled for."
Having taken a few days to prepare herself, Raspberyl now had the perfect plan. She adjusted her new clothes and called out Mao's name.
Within a few seconds, he was in front of her. It had only been recently that she'd started to notice a few things about him, and only now that she could stand to really look closely that she could appreciate them. His hair was always unkempt, but never dirty, and it spoke of how he dedicated he was to something he put his mind to. The sticky notes helped in that respect too, in their own way. And his face was so expressive...even when he was expressing anger and wicked delight, which were probably some of his most common emotions. Of course, right now it was expressing one of his rarer moods: confusion.
"Why are you dressed like a ninja?"
Of course, the real reason was that the mask concealed her face, so Mao couldn't see her furious blushing. "It's a...learning experience."
"Uh huh," said Mao pensively. "And the sunglasses?"
So she could look at him without him looking directly at her, which would have made her faint. "It's bright out."
"We're inside," Mao pointed out. "And it's night."
"It's for developing darkvision."
"Right. What did you want?"
Raspberyl handed him back the book she'd borrowed. "Just giving this back. And I have something for you as a thank you." She handed him the small basket she'd brought over. "I made it myself!"
Mao tossed the book over his shoulder and peered into the basket. There was a large, heart-shaped chocolate inside. He stared at it for a while before responding. "Why?"
"I thought you might like it," said Raspberyl, hoping her voice didn't show how nervous she was that he wouldn't take it. After a while, he reached out and took a bite out of it.
"I do," he said thoughtfully. "It's not bad. Don't you want some?"
"N-no!" Raspberyl cried, a little more loudly than she'd intended. If she took her mask off to eat, she wouldn't be able to talk to him like this. "I had some earlier! That one's for you!"
"Hm," he said. They were quiet for a bit, and then Mao turned away. "Hey, Beryl. Were you sick?"
"Um...kinda. I guess. Why?"
"What was wrong with you?"
"Well...why do you want to know?"
Mao brought a hand up to his forehead. "I don't know. All of a sudden, I feel like I'm getting warmer...think my heart's beating faster, too. Dammit, were you contagious?"
"I hope so," Raspberyl said, before she could stop it. "I mean-" and then she wisely decided it would be a good time to run away.
"What was that?" yelled Mao. "Treason! Sedition! Heresy!" he yelled as he started to chase her around the library. When he caught up to her, he grabbed her and threatened, "You listen, Beryl, if you made me sick, then so help me I'll-"
And then, in his annoyance, he pulled down Raspberyl's ninja cowl and sunglasses. In her shock, she didn't even register what was happening, taking a few seconds to realize that not only was she looking directly into Mao's eyes, they were only a few inches from her own.
She would have passed out entirely, but before she could, Mao jerked away and spun around. He looked like he was fuming, but Raspberyl just made out a hint of redness in his face. "Great," he muttered, "for some reason, when I look at your eyes, it gets worse. You really did make me sick!"
"Maybe..." she said softly, "well...the book said there was a way to make it better."
"Yeah?" he said, not turning.
Raspberyl stood next to him and cautiously took his hand in hers. Small as Mao was, he still towered over her, so she actually had to wrap his hand around her own. He didn't react.
"Is it helping?" she asked.
It took a while, but eventually he responded, "Yeah."
They stood there for about a minute, not looking at one another, before he spoke again. "Does this cure it?"
"The book said there's no cure. This kind of thing just helps the symptoms."
Mao nodded sagely. "Good enough."