At the next meeting, Jessica had already thought up an idea about how she could determine who might be her potential sibling. While that had been relatively easy by itself, it would be executing the idea that would be hard, especially since it would mean having to get closer to Sento.
As everyone took their seats, Lambdadelta started:
"Well? You got something to put on the table or not, kid?"
"Actually," said Jessica, deciding to get it over with, "before we begin, there's something I need to announce."
She looked back and forth between the ambivalent Lion and the smug yet nonchalant Sento. "I could just sit here all day and debate over who's my brother or sister or whatever, but I still wouldn't actually know anything about either of you," said Jessica. "And so I was wondering if…"
She bit her lip, swallowed her pride, and said, "I invite you two to a tea party. At Beato's place, wherever that may be."
"Whaaaa?" Lambdadelta stamped her foot. "Since when did I give you permission to do that, huuuuh?"
"I promise I won't talk about the actual game," said Jessica quickly. "I just want to work on building a relationship with them both."
"Oh?" said Sento, crossing his legs. "What kind of relationship, dear sister?"
"A normal one between siblings," said Jessica tensely.
"I for one would be happy to go," declared Lion. "Just remember to behave yourself, Jessica; I know what you're like when asked to behave like a lady."
"And you would know any better on being ladylike?" said Sento. "But I don't see any harm in going, as long as it's all right by my master."
"And it's not all right!" insisted Lambdadelta. "I certainly don't—"
"Fine by me," shrugged Bernkastel as she took a sip of plum tea.
"Bu—bu—but Bern…" whimpered Lambdadelta.
"If some quality time will make them realize the uselessness of ever being a 'happy family', then why not?" said Bernkastel, a cruel smile emanating from the edge of her lips. "Perhaps it will force them to realize the inevitability of their endless struggle and see how futile any hope of happiness really is. Besides, it's not as if Jessica can talk about anything related to the mystery even if she wanted to."
"Ga…guaahh, fine," snapped Lambdadelta, folding her arms and slouching, her bottom lip stuck out and her eyebrows turned down. "But only if Jessica comes to our play."
"Play?" said Jessica. "I never heard anything about—"
"So you will come?" said Lambdadelta, bouncing in her seat.
"Then it's a deal!" said Lambdadelta. "I'll let Sento go to your tea party, and you can come to our play, oka~y?"
"Um…fine," sighed Jessica. "Let's begin."
Bernkastel began, "Point one: How could Sento have been dropped off from the hospital into Kinzo's arms?"
"Wait, where's that Will guy?" said Jessica.
"Oh, he's running a bit late in his investigations," said Bernkastel. "But no matter, we'll start without him."
Jessica hesitated, wondering if this was fair to Lion or Will, never mind the baby.
"C'mon, c'mon, what are you waiting for?" urged Lambdadelta. "You don't plan on spending the next five hundred years in here, do you?"
"Mmm…fine," sighed Jessica. She cleared her throat and began: "It is possible that Rudolf Ushiromiya bribed the hospital into giving Battler to Asumu, and then telling Kyrie she had a miscarriage. He did this to spare himself the task of raising two children and to get rid of any evidence that he was cheating. He might've planned it months in advance, together with Kinzo, and then handed him the baby."
"Interesting, interesting," mused Sento. "That seems like a rather strong, favourable argument, wouldn't you agree, Master Lambdadelta?"
"Indeed!" declared Lambdadelta. "I'll acknowledge it. Next argument, Bern?"
"How did Sento survive his fall?" asked Bernkastel. "Any fall from that height can't be easy to escape without injury."
"The servant who attended to him could have clutched him tightly as the two fell and while she died on impact, he could have made it out alive thanks to her sacrifice," said Jessica.
"Hmm, that's a little too convenient and stretches reality just a bit even for me," said Lambdadelta. "But whatever, I'll acknowledge it. Now—"
Lambdadelta was interrupted by the sudden arrival of two people: Will and Lion.
"Sorry to keep you waiting," said Will, adjusting his jacket. "Lion and I got a bit lost." He glared at Sento. "Apparently, someone had given us the wrong directions."
"My mistake," said Sento with a smirk. "I'll try to be more careful in the future."
"Has the debate begun?" said Lion, taking a seat.
"You didn't expect us to sit around waiting for you all day, did you?" said Sento.
"Now that you are here, we can listen to whatever arguments you have come up with in Lion's favour," said Bernkastel. "Do you have any idea how Lion could have come around to end up in Kinzo's arms in the first place?"
Will nodded grimly. "Oh yes, I do—I know the truth."
Bernkastel smiled. "Do you? You know the truth?"
"Indeed," said Will. "Nonetheless, I will present it with the blue: There were two Beatrice's. The first was Beatrice Castiglioni, whom Kinzo met during his fighting days in World War II. She died giving birth to their daughter, and that daughter was given her namesake. As the daughter grew older, her resemblance to her mother became stronger, which drove Kinzo further and further to the brink of insanity."
Gramps…you didn't…oh gross…
And then Will said what Jessica hoped he wouldn't say:
"There was eventually a time when Kinzo viewed Beatrice less as a daughter and more as a reincarnation of her mother. He impregnated her with his child, and this child was Lion."
"…Ah…ha…sorry, I think I just threw up in my mouth…" said Jessica weakly.
"It was a lot for me to take in, too," said Lion, wringing the hands.
Will finished with, "To cover up this shameful affair, Kinzo could have presented this child to Natsuhi and told her to raise it as her own."
"How dark, how twisted, how horrible…I love it," grinned Bernkastel. "I'll acknowledge it. That is all for today. You may go."
Oddly, there was something about Bernkastel's announcement that felt less than assuring.
As soon as Jessica arrived at the mansion, she was greeted by a relieving sight: Beato was sitting outside stuffing her face full of cookies while Battler sat across from her tapping a pencil against the crossword puzzle spread out on the table.
What made this sight relieving was how peaceful it looked. There were no worries about the baby, no concerns about the battle…just a happy couple enjoying a peaceful afternoon.
Jessica cleared her throat and said, "I'm back."
Battler looked up. "How did it go?"
"It went okay," said Jessica. "I think."
"Good to hear," said Battler, returning to his crossword without further acknowledgment.
Jessica supposed that even if they got out of here, it would still take time before Battler could fully forgive her. But still, she didn't want to just be ignored by him forever.
Jessica took a third seat beside Battler and said, "So what are you working on?" Even though she knew the answer, she figured she might as well start up a friendly conversation.
"Crossword," said Battler.
Jessica peered over his shoulder. Thirteen across—
"Do you mind?" said Battler, scooting further away from Jessica.
Jessica sighed and turned to Beato. "Hey, Beato?"
"Mmph?" Beato looked up. She had a cookie clamped between her lips while crumbs ran down her chin.
"Do you have everything prepared for the next tea party?" asked Jessica.
Beato shoved the cookie into her mouth and said, "They're coming?"
"Yep," said Jessica.
"Both?" said Battler.
"Er…yeah," said Jessica.
"Including Sento," said Battler bluntly.
"That's kind of what 'both' implies," said Jessica.
Battler let out a mixture between a sigh and a groan.
"I'm not looking forward to this any more than you are, but maybe it'll help us to our advantage somehow," pointed out Jessica.
"Yeah," sighed Battler, slumping down in his chair. "Maybe."
Jessica looked up at the clear blue sky and thought:
Just as long as Sento behaves himself we'll be fine….