Third Time Lucky


"Ihihi, this is kind of amazing. I feel so popular."

"Oh? And why would that be, Battler?"

Battler was reclining on a chair in the kitchen, hands behind his back, the chair tipped back precariously on only two legs. Ronove would have gently told Battler not to be so careless, given sitting like that only ever led to accidents and bumped heads, but he restrained himself. Battler was awfully similar to Beatrice, in that they were both rather stubborn and hated to be told what to do. Ronove knew, if he berated Battler, Battler would fold his arms and stick out his tongue, and nothing would be solved.

Battler could learn for himself just how dangerous the consequences of sitting like that were. Maybe, when his chair skidded across the floor and he fell onto the ground like a bowling pin, Ronove could even try and comfort his bruised ego a little.

Mm, that sounded like a good plan~

Grinning, Battler said proudly, "I got twoloads of Valentine's chocolate, and all the girls round here are supposed to hate me! I'm surprised I got so much! I didn't even know you guys hadValentine's Day round here, so I'm really surprised! Ihihi!"

"We do enjoy celebrating human holidays from time to time. It makes the atmosphere livelier. I can clearly remember one time, when Milady decided we would celebrate Halloween-"

"Oh? Halloween, huh? That sounds fitting for you guys, being demons an' witches and all. So what happened?"

"Milday thought it would be a good idea to let the seven sisters carve their own pumpkins."

"I don't see the problem…?"

"With very sharp knives."

Battler ran this through his head a few times, pondering. Then, he blinked. Realization dawned across his face.

"Oh."

From that simple 'oh', it was obvious he was imagining a rather brutal scene on par with Battle Royale. Those damn stake girls were dangerous enough on their own, with their purple blades and super-sharp retractable nails. Giving them knives sounded about as smart as letting sharks operate dynamite.

"Oh indeed," Ronove agreed, laughing. "Mammon decided Leviathan's less-than-perfect pumpkin bore a striking resemblance to Satan, and-"

"And Satan flipped her shit and tried to gouge out Mammon's eyes?"

"Pu ku ku~ How charmingly stated. However did you guess?"

"Dunno." Battler shrugged. "Maybe you guys are rubbing off on me. Maybe I'm magic, too."

"Mm, well, you have been balancing on that chair for a rather long time. That's truly commendable."

"Oh, I can do this for ages. It's one of my talents. Don't tell Beato, though- I was thinking about using my awesome sitting down skills as a trump card in one of her future games, if it gets kind of nasty. Don't tell a soul about this secret, okay?"

Ronove smiled, placing a finger to his lips. "I assure you, I'll keep it top secret~"

"Ihihi~ So…" Swiftly changing the topic of conversation, from one holiday to another, Battler, said, "I'm kind of disappointed now. I thought maybe you guys were celebrating Valentine's Day in my honor, just because a handsome guy like me was around, ihihi~"

"Well, I wonder… That might have been the reason Milady decided to celebrate it after all."

"Eh?" Battler's eyes widened slightly. "You serious?"

"Mm. Milady is fickle, so sometimes it is difficult even for me to understand her- and I have been by her side for many, many years. However, I believe there is a strong chance your presence spurred her to celebrate this holiday of love."

"Huh? But why would Beato do something sappy like that?"

"Who knows? Maybe there's a special someone she was hoping to convey her true feelings for, pu ku ku~"

Battler looked at Ronove quizzically for a few moments.

Then, slowly, he shook his head… and began to laugh.

"Ahaha, no way! No frickin' way! Beato doesn't have a soft side; she's not all cute and squishy like Satan can be sometimes."

"Squishy…?"

"Yeah, I heard from Asmo that Satan went to hand her chocolate to Kanon. Apparently, her face went all red, and she started stuttering. Ihihi~ Girls like that who can't express their real feelings are so cute!"

"Well, I myself have always believed there is a more sensitive side to Satan than a continued desire to blind Mammon, pu ku ku."

"Yeah, but Beato's not like that. She's not cute at all."

"Not even a little bit?"

"Weeeell…" Battler paused, thinking; placing one hand under his lower lip. "Beato's hot and all, but she's got such a bad personality. I can't believe she gave me that chocolate because she cares about me. No- I bet she gave it to me so I'd think she has a cute side, and maybe I;d open my heart to her a little… and then, when it's unguarded, she'd pierce my heart right through the middle with her treasured red sword! This Valentine's Day thing must've been a farce designed by Beato so she could mess with my head! I refuse to accept there's any deeper meaning than that."

"That certainly is one way of looking at it, I suppose. However, the seven sisters were very happy they were given the chance to express their feelings to those they care for, so maybe it would be kinder not to call the whole celebration a 'farce'."

"Haha~ I can't believe Belphegor gave her chocolates to my old man. I thought she was the only nice, sensible stake- but she has the worst taste out of all of them! I hope the others are all teasing her about it mercilessly. I'd join in, too, and tell her about what a bastard my dad is, but I wouldn't want to crush her innocent, maidenly dreams."

"My, how noble of you. But you have no problem heartlessly claiming Milday's feelings were purely fabricated to trick you? What if her own motives were also innocent and 'maidenly'?"

"Well…" Battler frowned. "Beato did look kind of adorable when she gave me her chocolates, I guess… But, gaaah- I'm not even going to think about that! Besides, the chocolate she gave me was the same as Lucifer's. She stole it."

Ronove's brows raised slightly. "You think Milday stole it from Lucifer?"

"Yeah, of course! Why else would their chocolate taste the same? That's a perfectly logical piece of reasoning."

He made to stab a finger at Ronove as he delivered his theory- but, unfortunately, the sudden movement nearly made him overbalance on his chair. Battler was able to keep his balance, and most of his dignity, but the small laugh that escaped Ronove's mouth did make Battler flush slightly. If he'd fallen over on his ass, that would've been kind of embarrassing.

Whatever. He couldn't start sitting on all four legs of his chair now, just because of a minor mishap. It'd only make him look weaker! Real men stuck to their convictions, no matter how ridiculous!

Battler would have the last laugh yet!

"If Beato really cared about me, she'd have made that chocolate herself," was Battler final conclusion. "There weren't any of her own personal feelings in that chocolate, which she had cruelly stolen from Luci. So I can't accept that Beato has any feelings for me! What good is stolen chocolate that's filled with the pure, innocent love of somebody else?"

"Pure, innocent love, you say…? Well, if you want to interpret it that way… Pu ku ku…"

Ronove, who had already been laughing at Battler's flustered state, now began to giggle in a rather unseemly way over something else. However, Battler had no idea why he was laughing at him this time- and it was beginning to make him feel a little uncomfortable.

"Hey. What's so funny?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing~"

Battler pouted. "Come oooon. I thought you were meant to be my ally, kinda-sorta. Don't go keeping secrets from me."

Ronove coughed, attempting to mask his laughter. After a small pause, he had finally managed to compose himself- though that teasing smile hadn't faded from his face.

"Ah, very well. To tell you the truth, Battler, Lucifer and Miladay weren't the only ones thoughtful enough to present you with chocolate."

"Hn? They weren't?"

"No. In fact, I also thought it would be fun to join the festivities… However- and I feel slightly embarrassed to say this- I didn't have anybody to give the chocolate to."

"Aren't girls supposed to give chocolates to guys?"

"That's only in Japanese culture. In Europe, it's more commonly accepted that any loving couple will exchange gifts, regardless of gender."

"Then… aaah, I don't wanna say this, but maybe you're a more decent guy than me." Battler grinned. "Jeez, I'd hate to make hand-made chocolates. The girls at my school always got really serious about it, and it looked so stressful. I always thought I'd make a really crappy girl, 'cause I'm not very good at cooking and stuff. So, even if I lived in Europe, I don't think I'd bother giving gifts, ihihihi~"

"That's not true. You're a perfectly fine, friendly man; I'm sure you'd make an equally charming girl. And besides, having an affinity for cooking isn't any real judge of character."

"Well, yeah. You're a demon, and you like baking."

"Indeed."

"But… about your chocolate. Why don't you give it to Virgilia? You two get along pretty well, so I'm sure she'd appreciate it."

"Perhaps- but Miss Virgilia doesn't particularly like chocolate. She much prefers mackerel."

"Ihihi~ I forgot she had the same crazy mackerel obsession as Kumasawa. Maybe you could make special mackerel chocolate for her?"

"Ah, and commit treason against common sense and good cuisine? I could never do such an unspeakable act of evil. Beelzebub would gougeme."

Battler laughed at Ronove's mock horror, very nearly overbalancing on his chair once more. Still, he was able to keep himself upright. He wouldn't fall over in front of Ronove; he refused! He had his pride to think of.

"Right, right, point taken. Why don't you give your chocolate to Beelzebub, then?"

"I thought it would be rude to give chocolate to a girl who had already handed hers' to somebody else."

"She wouldn't care. She'd just be happy to get more food."

"But then my feelings wouldn't be truly accepted, and I would feel disheartened. A person shouldn't accept hand-made chocolate merely because they're hungry; I believe they should do it because they truly enjoy the others' company."

"Well, I do get your point. So." Battler tilted his head. "You finally decide who the lucky girl is?"

"Why… yes, I believe I have. But… it's not necessarily a woman."

"Ooh?~" Battler grinned. "Well, I'm not surprised, ihihi~ You're surrounded by all those gorgeous big-boobed sisters, and you've never even side-eyed them once. So that makes sense. I already had my suspicions. Soooo…?~ Who's the lucky guy, then?"

Ronove smiled pleasantly. "How many men do you know who exist in the meta world, Battler?"

"Well, there's you, and me, and… and…"

Battler paused.

Then, his brows furrowed in surprise.

"Me?"

Ronove didn't look embarrassed at all. Instead, he nodded his head, smiling that usual, impenetrable smile. There was something almost shameless about how calm he was.

"Yes. You."

"Ahaha, well, t-that's nice and all, but I'm not-"

"I'm aware of that- but I believe we do share a friendly relationship, yes? After all, we're sat here, having a pleasant conversation… so I believe that you, Battler, are the most fitting person to accept my chocolate."

"Uh, but I-"

"Please don't think about it too much. I just did this on a whim, and I didn't even wrap it up; there's no need to be embarrassed. Please look upon it as obligation chocolate."

"Ahaha, well… If it's only obligation chocolate…"

"Thank you for accepting my feelings, Battler, pu ku ku~"

Battler's cheeks turned light pink. "W-well, don't say corny things like that if it's only 'obligation'! Y-you're giving me the wrong idea here!"

"Ah, I do apologize. Well… please enjoy it."

Ronove made an elegant motion with his hands. In a burst of golden butterflies, a plate materialized upon the table. It was stacked with small pieces of chocolate; a mixture of plain and white. It looked, and smelt, absolutely delicious.

Battler couldn't deny he felt a little embarrassed about accepting chocolate from another guy- especially a creepy demon butler like Ronove. Even if Ronove said it was just 'obligation chocolate', there was something very mischievous about his smile that suggested that wasn't entirely true. Battler had accepted chocolate from a demon before, so that wasn't a new experience, but he'd never accepted chocolate from a man.

Somehow, doing that was even more bizarre than accepting the feelings of a magical stake girl who liked to gouge people.

Well, it didn't hurt that Lucifer was really cute~

But still, even so…

That chocolate did look really delicious- and Ronove was an excellent cook. Beelzebub was right to pester him all the time, whining for cookies. If Battler was a few years younger, he probably would've done exactly the same thing.

…Hahaha.

Maybe that old saying was true. The way to a man's heart definitely was through his stomach, after all.

Trying to shrug off his embarrassment with bravado, Battler said, "…Aaah, what the hell. I guess it would be mean to say no after you went and made it. I wouldn't want to make you cry, ihihi!"

Ronove smiled. "How considerate of you. I'm flattered."

And, with that, Battler reached forwards, and picked up a piece of chocolate. Then, he put it in his mouth.

… …Oh my God!

T-that's…

T-that's a-amazing!

Now, that is concrete proof this guy isn't a human. No human could make food this wonderful! Aaaaaah~~~ I could die happy right now!~

All of a sudden, Battler felt his embarrassment and minor worries completely melt away. Nothing mattered in life anymore- not the murders, not Beato's game board, not Ronove's creepy smile; for now, everything was right and cheerful and happy and good and-

Aaaah, iwas even more delicious than it looked!

It was so delicious Battler, who usually tore through his food like lightening ('I'm a growing boy, after all!'), couldn't even bring himself to chew it. Instead, he let it dissolve on his tongue, revelling in how sweet it was, and how creamy, how light… It would have been blasphemy to bite into chocolate that heavenly; he had to savor it.

Hmm…

That chocolate did taste a little bit familiar, though. If he'd tried it yesterday, it certainly would have been the best chocolate he'd ever tasted in his life- but… hadn't he been given a similar kind of chocolate a little earlier that day?

Hadn't he been given it by…

Battler paused.

His eyes widened.

Then… he realized.

"L-lucifer?"

Battler shouted it at the same time he swallowed the chocolate, so he began to choke a little- though, with his pride, he batted Ronove's hands away when he tried to pat his back. Through his coughing, he managed to finish his previous sentence; "T-this is Lucifer's chocolate?"

A teasing smile flitted across Ronove's face.

"No. I believe you'll find it's mine. I made it."

"B-but the chocolate Lucifer gave me, i-it, i-it… I-it tasted the same as this!"

"Hm? Now that isstrange… Let me think, how could that have occurred? …Oh yes~ I remember now!" Ronove laughed, elegantly pressing his gloved fingers to his lips. "I made that chocolate for the seven sisters to distribute to their loves myself earlier this morning~ And, of course, I made some for Milady to use, too."

"W-what?"

"Yes~ It's true~ Oh my…" Ronove leant in close, a little too close- way, way too close! …And, very gently, he prodded Battler's nose with the tip of his finger. "It looks like you've eaten chocolate three times today already~ Pu ku ku~ What was that about accepting 'pure and innocent' feelings, hmm? Were my feelings pure and innocent enough for you, Battler? After all… I did make that chocolate with all my heart. And you've surely received my heart three times over."

Battler stared at Ronove in horror.

Then… he let out a strange muffled squeak- and jumped, as though he'd been pricked with a pin.

Of course, it's never a good idea to jump when sitting on a chair with only two legs. So, it stands to follow that, for a third time, the chair shook and trembled precariously…

Thump!

Only this time, Battler was unable to regain his balance.

A loud sound filled the room, as Battler gracelessly fell onto the floor in a heap of limbs and pain.

"O-oww… W-what the hell?"

Ronove, of course, had seen this coming from the start, and tried (unsuccessfully) to hide his laughter behind his hand.

"My, my. You know, on White Day, boys who received gifts have to repay the givers by three. And, as you enjoyed my chocolate three times, you would, technically, have to repay me by nine… Pu ku ku~ I wonder what could possibly be worth nine of my chocolate, made with my purest and most sincere feelings? I'm really looking forward to it… Pu ku ku~"

"S-shut up!"


a/n: Because, idk, I love writing kawaaii desu things for these two XD; The barely-explored relationship they have in canon is just too fun and precious haha XD~

Everybody is probably aware of this, but on White Day guys in Japan are expected to return the girls for the gifts they gave them on Valentine's Day. According to Wikipedia, Sometimes the term sanbaigaeshi (三倍返し, literally, "triple the return") is used to describe the generally recited rule that the return gift should be two to three times the cost of the Valentine's gift. So that nicely fits into the 'three' theme I had goin' on here, and… I wonder if that technically means Battler has to repay Ronove 3x3 for that chocolate, so 9 times… XDDD; What on earth could he possibly give him in return? XDD~

~renahhchen xoxo