Disclaimer: Bayonetta and Jeanne were created by and are the intellectual property of Platinum Games. No copyright infringement intended.
Later that morning, Jeanne admitted Cereza into her apartment. Cereza was rather more conservatively dressed than usual; or, at least, her magic-infused hair was arranged into an outfit more modest than the usual abominations she liked to wear.
"A business suit," remarked Jeanne. "You certainly look very professional…"
"I have a photo shoot this afternoon. Despite the fact that I'll only be wearing this suit before and after the session, business is business."
Cereza leaned against a wall, and positioned herself so that Jeanne was only offered her side. It was a distant, guarded posture.
"Have you come to a decision, perchance?" asked Jeanne.
"Mmmm-hmmm. I've decided to give another go at being your paramour."
Jeanne remained impassive, simply replying with: "I'm glad to hear that…"
"However," Cereza interrupted, "I think it would be a good idea if we set some ground rules."
Jeanne nodded. "That is probably the sensible thing to do."
"First of all: if you agree to enter this arrangement, then you'd better know what you're letting yourself in for. I want there to be no room for misunderstanding this time, Jeanne. I'm a free spirit. I'm a nonconformist – 'nonconformist', isn't that such a delicious word! I like to enjoy life, Jeanne, and if my beloved truly cares for me, they will cherish that, and respect it."
"Very well. If you ever find that I'm stifling you, then tell me, Cereza."
"Secondly: there are to be no more bloody guilt trips! I know that I'm not living up to my full potential, and you needn't feel the need to remind me all the time!"
"I know, I know. From this point on, I'll be more concerned that you're happy, Cereza."
"Well, good. You should know that, of all the people in the world, you're the only one that's capable of making me feel inadequate." For a moment, Cereza's expression sagged faintly, but then her brow creased in realization as something occurred to her. "Then again, perhaps that's not always a bad thing. With all the yes-men and sycophants I have following me around all the time… if I don't have you around, Jeanne, there's a risk I might become full of myself."
Ten distinct ripostes flooded into Jeanne's head, each loudly demanding to be expressed with as much scorn as possible, but Jeanne resisted the temptation. Instead, she simply said: "Well, is that it, Cereza? Are those all your rules? Because I can think of a few of my own that I'd like to set down."
Cereza regarded her neutrally. "Out with them, then."
"You are to take proper care of yourself. I am not going to endure a re-enactment of what we went through before. By now I've learned that it's a fool's dream to expect you to feel embarrassment of any type, but deep inside I hope you're ashamed of some of the things you did!"
"I gave up alcohol three weeks ago, Jeanne. I thought you would have noticed." She waggled her eyebrows. "How did you think my sexual performance improved so much?"
"I never minded you drinking. I never minded you going out. I don't want you to feel imprisoned. But I want to know that you're safe, Cereza! Will it hurt for you to be in bed at a sensible hour? I don't want to run after you any longer! I don't want to have to clean up your mess, and I don't want to be worried for your safety anymore!"
Cereza inwardly growled, but relented nonetheless. "I won't cause you any more bother," she said, staring at the ceiling.
"Good." Jeanne nodded curtly. "Well, I can't think of any more rules."
"Neither can I," said Cereza.
An awkward silence descended on the apartment, though only Jeanne was discomforted by it. To Cereza, of course, awkwardness was an alien concept, and so she simply gazed wordlessly at her newly-reinstated girlfriend. Jeanne's eyes darted around the room, frantically searching for, perhaps, inspiration; some gurgle of conversation that could offer a few moments of comfort – until the next awkward silence.
Cereza pushed herself off the wall, and faced Jeanne directly. Reaching her arms outwards, she stared at the other woman expectantly. Jeanne's mouth creased into a broad smile, and she moved forward with as much dignity and restraint as the moment would allow her. Jeanne slid into Cereza's arms, and the two women embraced.
She and Cereza had been fuck buddies for the last two weeks, and every time they had been together, Jeanne had always been aware of the sickening possibility that that night might have been the last. Every time her hands roamed over Cereza's body, Jeanne was unable to ignore the possibility that, afterwards, Cereza might have decided that she was bored with her, and left forever. Every time Jeanne gorged herself on Cereza's flesh, she always had, at the back of her mind, the fear that Cereza would lose interest in her and walk away from her for good.
Now, at last, the fears and misgivings were gone, and Jeanne simply held Cereza and savored the feeling of having her in her arms. Her hands drifted up and down her back. She left fleeting kisses along her ears and neck. She ran whimsical fingers through her hair.
"I love you," she said.
"I love you too," said Cereza, in her normal voice. Even Cereza recognized that her 'Bayonetta' voice was far too ridiculous for certain words.
The two women lingered in their clinch for a while longer, and then Jeanne was the first to stir. She gazed into her lover's eyes, and a trace of playfulness had inveigled its way into her expression.
"It's widely believed," she began, "that the best sex occurs when two lovers have a quarrel, and then reconcile." She fixed Cereza a coy look. "It has something to do with endorphins, I do believe. I think we're in for a rather good afternoon…"
"Have you forgotten? Endorphins or not, I have an appointment to keep."
Damn it! "Ugh, well, when are you due?"
"I have to be there in half an hour."
"Well, be late!"
"Now that's not a very responsible thing for a teacher to be saying, is it?"
"You're a supermodel! You're expected to be late! Two or three hours, at least!"
"Not any more! I've turned over a new leaf. Jeanne, you're looking at a new, healthy, sober, punctual me."
"Ugh." Jeanne disengaged herself from her partner. "Very well. Whatever you wish. I suppose I can amuse myself here. Do you want me to prepare dinner for tonight, or would you like us to make it together?"
"You know," said Cereza, drawing out the 'oh' sound, which unfailingly indicated that she had mischief on her mind, "if you simply can't bear to be separated from me for the afternoon – "
"I never said that."
" – you could tag along to the shoot."
Jeanne blinked in befuddlement. "The shoot? Why would I want to go to that?"
"Well, you've never been to one before."
"Yes, well, I see your photographs in magazines, and all over the city…"
"Oh, come on, teacher," purred Cereza. "It will be educational…"
Daguerr Productions was the leading professional photography studio in the entire city. Everyday, famous actors, models and musicians – though few were as well-known as Bayonetta – passed through its doors, and their images were captured by the most accomplished photographers in the world.
The employees of Daguerr Productions were accustomed to playing host to the richest, most popular celebrities on the planet. They were accustomed to having the most superfamous human beings pose for them in their studios.
What they weren't accustomed to was the shrieking harpy currently standing off on the sidelines.
"For Nyx's sake!" yelled Jeanne. "Will one of you cretins give her a towel?"
Today, Cereza was modeling a range of designer spectacles. The trouble, for Jeanne, was that the spectacles were the only thing Cereza was actually wearing.
"Calm down, my petal," said Cereza. "This fine establishment has central heating. What do I need a towel for?"
"Why do you have to be naked to sell glasses? Glasses! Why can't you wear a normal outfit?"
"Jeanne, spectacles are sexy, these days. It's the latest fad. Didn't you get the memo? You're the one who spends all her time flipping through fashion rags…"
Cereza lounged in the centre of the studio, not a care in the world. A throng of people milled around her, a bewildering legion of make-up artists, lighting technicians and whatever other gofers and flunkies are needed to produce a decent photo. Cereza simply reclined in the midst of it all, seemingly intoxicated by her own aura of glamour. She didn't even deign to put on and take off the endless series of spectacles that she was exhibiting; a stagehand came, gingerly lowered a pair of glasses behind her ears, ducked out of the view of the camera, then plucked the glasses from her nose and replaced them with another pair for the next photo.
The photographer, an Eastern European with long black hair and a faintly ghoulish face by the name of Monsieur Wiseau, hefted his camera around as he orbited his star like a particularly artistic satellite. "Now, Bayonetta, I need you to stare directly into the camera and have a real feeling of strength and self-sufficiency…"
Jeanne was becoming increasingly shrill. "How can she express strength and self-sufficiency when you treat her like a piece of meat?"
Cereza chuckled wickedly. "I've just had a revelation. Do you know what real power is? Here I am sitting in the middle of a crowd of people, without any clothes on, and all it will take is for me to say a few words, and any one of these darlings will lose their jobs. It's quite an exhilarating feeling, really."
"Yeah, yeah, that's good, Bayonetta. Now, if you can inject a sense of humour into your demeanour, try to seem more friendly, more inviting…"
"Yes, yes, yes, more inviting, more friendly, thus allowing all those leering Neanderthal men to feel less guilty about ogling her!"
"I will be very put out if I find that you've been airbrushing these pictures, Monsieur Wiseau. I work very hard to look this good, I'll have you know."
"That's gooooooood, Bayonetta! No, no airbrushing. I need you to stare directly into the camera and have a real feeling of mystery, and enigma, but also inner vulnerability and a sense of the tragic loss of nature before the advance of mankind…"
"She's modeling fucking glasses, you pretentious imbecile!"
"All this posing leaves me very tired. I'm going to have no energy at all in the evening."
"That's so good, Bayonetta. Now, I need you to hide behind your left leg, and put your chin on your knee…"
"You!" bellowed Jeanne. "Yes, you, the scrawny kid with the disgusting blotchy skin who clearly has no concept of cosmetic care! I saw you looking at her! Keep your eyes on the ground, you pathetic mortal, or I'll make you stare at those lights until you go blind! That goes for all of you!"
"Mmmmm…do you smell that? That is the smell of fear. All of these poor assistants are terrified of me! Poor little things!"
"Very goooooooood, Bayonetta. Now, I would like if you could lift your arms above your shoulders so that we can get just the right shape…"
"This is sexist! What kind of message is this sending to women? Do you feel guilty, Monsieur Wiseau, objectifying women so that you can advertise spectacles, of all things?"
"Funny you should say that," said Monsieur Wiseau, "because it's about time we brought out Miguel."
"Miguel?" said Jeanne, confused. "Who – "
Six-foot-two-inches of exquisitely-carved muscle sauntered out onto the stage, wearing nothing but a bath towel. The sharp features of his face were accentuated by a painstakingly cultivated goatee. He was Miguel.
"What's he doing here?" asked Jeanne, her voice becoming thin with suspicion and alarm.
"Why, Jeanne, this is an equal opportunity campaign," explained Cereza.
Miguel removed his towel, and every single drop of colour trickled from Jeanne's face, rendering her positively corpse-like. Miguel casually sat himself down on the same structure on which Cereza was resting. An assistant rushed out and perched a pair of spectacles on his aquiline nose.
Monsieur Wiseau cleared his throat. "Now, Bayonetta, Miguel, we need to show the viewer that spectacles are beautiful, attractive, wisdom is powerful. Sexy, yeeeeaaaah! So we need you both to provide some real sexual tension, yeah…"
"Sexual tension?" asked Jeanne. By now, her voice had become so high-pitched that everyone in the entire studio knew her throat would be sore as hell in the morning. "Sexual tension? No! No, there will be no sexual tension! Cereza….what is this? What are you two doing? Don't you dare touch her! I swear to Nyx, if your skin touches her, I will personally flay you alive! You have one warning, you himbo! One little touch, and I will emasculate you! One – little – touch!"
The photo session eventually came to an end, and, realistically, how long could Jeanne remain truly angry?
As the pair passed through the doors of the studio, Jeanne turned to her partner, and said: "I sincerely hope that this debacle was not some manner of test, Cereza."
Cereza wordlessly crooked her elbow. Jeanne looked at the outstretched arm, and after a moment of hesitation, circled her own arm through it. They walked together to the corner of the block where Jeanne's motorcycle had been parked. For the journey home, Cereza insisted on taking her turn to drive. This, of course, was an invitation for Jeanne to spend the trip with her arms wrapped around her girlfriend's waist. Whatever lingering anger remained was gone by the time they reached home.
Jeanne began to undress. Cereza said: "Why not allow me to get you out of those clothes?"
The corner of Jeanne's mouth turned upwards, and she held her arms out, signaling agreement. "I would return the favour," she remarked, "but that would probably involve pulling your hair. That might be painful."
"Tonight, pain is not on the agenda," Cereza replied.
Cereza began by unwinding Jeanne's scarf from around her neck, and tossing it next to the bathroom sink. Next, she helped Jeanne remove her blouse, and then made an ostentatious show of neatly folding the garment.
Cereza smirked mischievously. "It's a nice blouse. We wouldn't want it to get creased."
Jeanne snatched the blouse from her hands, and flung it roughly on the tiled floor. "To hell with neatness."
Taking heed of her impatience, Cereza began to remove Jeanne's clothes with more haste. As she did so, her own outfit began to unravel and collapse as the strands of hair came apart.
When Jeanne was stripped to her underwear, something seemed to occur to Cereza. "I've just remembered," she said.
"What?" asked Jeanne.
"When we parted ways, I deleted all of the 'special' photos I had of you."
"All of them?"
"The entire collection. What a pity. They were really nice."
"Well, I'm glad that I can trust you to respect my privacy. I was half-expecting them to appear on a billboard in the middle of a city street."
"I would never! But anyway, I'm going to have to replace them. Build a new collection."
"Well, quite unlike you, Cereza, I am willing to pose for only one person."
Cereza raised an eyebrow, and then Jeanne realized that devious fingers had undone the clasp of her bra. Cereza pulled the bra off, and tossed it aside. "Jeanne…" she began, digging her fingers beneath the waistband of Jeanne's panties.
"…there is no one in the world," she continued, sliding the undergarment down the length of her legs.
"…that is quite so skilled at making me feel bloody special…" she said, freeing the garment from Jeanne's feet.
The panties sailed across the room and landed on the floor. "…as you."
Jeanne and Cereza washed their hair. Given that they were both Umbra Witches, this was a far more complicated operation than a normal human might imagine. Jeanne and Cereza both possessed enough hair to give form to gargantuan demons, and so washing it was a truly immense undertaking. Both witches went through inconceivably vast amounts of shampoo and conditioner every single week.
During the days of the Umbra Order, there was a shameful secret that the Sisters never talked about. Luckily, Cereza and Jeanne lived in far more enlightened times, now, and they were very pleased with the fact that one of a witch's most sensitive erogenous zones was the scalp.
It took Jeanne and Cereza an hour to clean their hair that night. They normally got it done more quickly, but they simply lost sight of the time.
At nine o'clock, Jeanne and Cereza finally got round to making dinner. They decided on pasta. Jeanne stood over a pot and gently stirred the Bolognese; an obvious prompt for Cereza to come and embrace her from behind. They stood together, waiting for the sauce to boil.
A thought entered Jeanne's mind: One day, I'd like to use Cereza as a dinner plate. I'm sure she wouldn't mind.
Cereza noticed that she was smiling. "What's so amusing?" she asked.
"Nothing," said Jeanne. She took the thought, and inserted it into her Fantasies I'm Going To Explore With Cereza In The Future file.
The file was positively overflowing.
Midnight found Cereza and Jeanne curled up together on the couch. A pleasing hint of shampoo remained in the air.
Jeanne reached out, and gently squeezed her lover's knee. "I'm glad I have you back, Cereza," she murmured. Cereza simply laid her hand on top of Jeanne's in response.
In some peripheral corner of her mind, Jeanne was aware that she and Cereza were in a honeymoon period. She knew that there was a whole slew of things that could eventually go wrong. To begin with, even if Jeanne succeeded in forcing herself to be less judgmental, she could easily find other ways of being an unpleasant bitch. And Cereza had managed to keep away from the booze for an incredible three weeks, but what would happen when life actually became difficult, and the temptation to drink returned?
Jeanne decided not to dwell on these thoughts for the time being. For one thing, they were too depressing, and for another, she was too damned tired. I'll just enjoy this renewed love for what it is, she thought.
Cereza brought her fingers to Jeanne's cheek, and raised her face to hers. She studied the bags beneath Jeanne's eyes.
"If you fall asleep like this, dear," said Cereza, "you'll wake up sore all over. And then you won't be able to perform all the things I'll want you to do. Let's go to bed."
Jeanne smiled faintly. Cereza pushed herself off the couch, and Jeanne allowed her to pull her to her feet. They walked hand-in-hand to the bedroom, and, climbing into bed, sank together into peaceful sleep.
If I wrote anymore of this fic, I would just start repeating things. Seems like a good time to draw things to a close. At one point, I was convinced that I could finish this story off in six chapters, but nooooooo!
As the story has progressed, I've become more and more concerned about OOCness. I concede that some people may have different interpretations of Jeanne, in particular, but hey. My favorite excuse is that Jeanne only acts vulnerable where Cereza is concerned, and is an indomitable ice queen with everyone else. On the other hand, I strongly believe that the Bayonetta in the game could easily evolve into the Bayonetta in this fic.
Thanks to all who left reviews and thus validated my miserable existence. I may have a final one-shot in store, so keep your eyes peeled. Goodbye all!