"Try and catch me if you caaaaan, Ushiromiya Baaattler!~ Kyakyakya!"
Ushiromiya Battler glared at the evil little stake-girl who had stolen his breakfast with all the fury of a thousand burning suns. Unfortunately, glaring wouldn't actually get Battler's food back- so, despite it being incredibly early in the morning, he had to start running.
You never got anything done if you didn't shout.
"D-damn it! Get back here, you evil bitch!"
Beelzebub cackled and turned her head, sticking out her tongue. Her blonde twin drills bounced cutely, framing her totally un-cute face.
"Nu uuuuh! That'd be way, waaaaay too easy!~ You should be thanking me, Baaattler, that you have a cute girl bugging you so early in the morning! That way, you'll have to get off your fat ass! Kyahaha- hyaaa? Eeee! Get off get off get off get off!"
"No way, ihihi~ What did you just say? That'd be way too easy. Heh… Maybe I'd appreciate you more if you handed me my breakfast on a silver platter and said 'h-here you go, please enjoy, Master!'… maybe even wearing a maid uniform, ihihi~ But stealing my food from my mouth and running away with it isn't cute! It isn't cute at all! I'd rather open my eyes to see Beato standing over me with a chain and collar!"
"Uuu?~" Beelzebub blinked at Battler, croissant in one hand and an eerie smile on her face. "You like things like that, Baaattler? Have I discovered a secret viiiice?"
Instantly, Battler regretting saying that. H-he'd said something idiotic without thinking, hadn't he?
"Aaha, um… I-it's not like that, okay?"
"Oooh, isn't it? Isn't it? Aaah, I like finding people's deepest, darkest desires and exposing them, hehe~ After all, I aaam a Stake of Purgatory. But I think your deepest, darkest desires are more suited for Asmo to chastise."
"H-hey, knock it off! I'm just a hot-blooded teenage kid surrounded by sexy witches and demons; what the hell else do you want me to react like? I-it's not my fault- h-hey! I already caught you once! Get back here, you little-"
"Sexy demons…? I hope that blanket statement covers myself as well, pu ku ku…~"
For the second time in two seconds, Battler wished he could take his previous words and stuff them back into his mouth.
There, stood in the white-washed hallway, was Ronove. He had one gloved hand resting on Beelzebub's shoulder to stop her escaping, and a small, enigmatic smile was playing about his face.
He was looking directly at Battler.
Like this morning could get any worse.
"Yeah, don't push your luck," said Battler coldly. "You don't even begin to fit my criteria for 'sexy'."
"Oh?~ And what might that be?"
"You're not female for a start. Sorry to disappoint you, but Beato has a better chance of getting with me than you."
"Ah, well…" Ronove smiled, and sighed. "I expected as much anyway- so I can't say I'm too surprised. Now… Miss Beelzebub." Ronove looked down at the Stake of Gluttony, who was still clutching Battler's croissant in her greasy, grasping little fingers. "Would you be so kind as to give Battler his breakfast back?"
"Huuuh? But we were playin' keep-away, Ronove! It was just a fun game! Battler was getting really into it- didn't you see? He was shouting and having a great time!"
"Just because somebody may be shouting, it doesn't necessarily imply they're enjoying themselves. I imagine a lot of people who were burnt to death for being witches shouted, but I doubt they were having fun."
"Eheh… he… Touché."
"Thank you. I believe your ideas of 'fun' might be entirely different from Battler's. He sounded rather angry, from little I heard of your conversation before I intervened."
"Kihihihi~ That wasn't anything to do with our gaaame. That was because I discovered Battler here is totally into bon-"
"For Battler's sake, I'd rather not hear about anything like that. Some secrets should be kept solely to the individuals, after all… pu ku ku."
Battler winced. "You know, saying that doesn't make me feel better. S-stop teasing me, damn it! I thought you thousand year old demons or whatever were above shit like that!"
"Hmn… You should talk to Miss Gaap about that, if you truly believe that," said Ronove.
Once more, he then turned to Beelzebub, his fingers tightening just a little- though not enough to hurt- on her shoulder. "I believe Battler is agitated enough. Could you please act in a mature manner and return his food? You've already had your breakfast- and it would be a shame if Battler didn't have a chance to sample my baking."
"Oh, yeah… That would be a shame, I guess. But… you wanna waste your food on this scrawny little human?" asked Beelzebub, all wide-eyed and innocent, with a childish lisping tone she certainly hadn't used before when she'd been torturing Battler. "Reaaally? I'm far more worthy of your food than him!"
Ronove didn't reply. Instead, he just gave Beelzebub a look; the sort of stern, though not aggressive, look a parent would give a misbehaving child.
It had its desired effect.
Pouting moodily, and talking just like a scolded little kid, Beelzebub muttered, "Aww… Fine, fine. Here. You better appreciate it to, you stupid sore-head."
And with that, Beelzebub stalked forwards- twin drills still bounce-bounce-bouncing- and shoved the now distinctly worse-for-wear, falling-to-pieces croissant in Battler's face. The poor croissant didn't look as delicious as before, after it had been manhandled so carelessly by Beelzebub- but the rumbling in Battler's stomach showed he really didn't care about that. He was so hungry he would've eaten almost anything at this point.
As Beelzebub had been incredibly rude when she stole his food, Battler saw no reason to be polite when he snatched the croissant back from her hands.
"Uwaaah! It's not fair!" she wailed. "You're so mean, Ronove! I'm a cute growing girl- I need food more! Why'd you go and give it to Battler?"
"Because he is Milady's opponent. I can hardly afford to let him starve to death."
"Urgh! That's not it, that's not it at all! It's 'cause you love Battler more than me, isn't it?" she shouted, stamping her foot on the floor. "It's cause you love him, right, isn't it?"
It was a good thing Battler hadn't started to eat his croissant yet, or he might have choked.
Ronove, meanwhile, only smiled, as per usual.
"Well…~ I do wonder," he said lightly; voice teasing, and not entirely truthful. "Perhaps my feelings towards Battler do have something to do with it, pu ku ku~"
"Urgh! That's favouritism! Fav~our~i~tis~m! And I won't stand for it! I hate you!"
And with that, Beelzebub stamped her foot on the floor once more, and vanished in a burst of golden butterflies.
"And good riddance," Battler muttered, as she disappeared. "She has such a loud, high-pitched voice. I was starting to get a headache."
"That would be most unfortunate. Thankfully, my voice is quite a lot lower, so I imagine you feel comfortable talking to me?"
Battler raised a brow. "Comfortable? With you? After all the weird shit you always say?"
"You should know, I only mean about 80% of it. I can see why Milady and Miss Beelzebub like teasing you… It is a lot of fun. Not even I am above such things."
"Heh, well, good for you. And what about the other 20%? How truthful is that?"
"Hm… Who knows?" Ronove laughed. "But… I can accept that you may not trust me- though I would be rather hurt if you hated me; especially as I rescued your breakfast for you."
"Yeah, yeah. Without you, I probably wouldn't have gotten anything to eat at all… and I hate being in debt with demons, so…" Battler looked Ronove straight in the eye, not a hint of embarrassment in his face, as he said firmly, "...Thanks."
"It's no problem."
Battler broke the croissant into two unclean, unequal halves. After surveying them for a moment, he frowned and, with a 'why the hell not?' kind of reasoning, handed one of the halves (the smaller one) to Ronove.
Ronove blinked at the proffered bit of croissant in surprise. "You're giving this to me?"
"No, I thought I'd let you look at it, then eat it myself." Battler rolled his eyes; but it wasn't through annoyance. He was grinning. "Of course it's for you, you idiot. I'm saying thank you."
"You already said thank you."
"Yeah, well, it's nice to accompany these things with a physical gesture, too. 'Sides, you seem to make all the food round here, but I've never seen you eat before."
"It's not professional for a butler to eat around those he serves."
"Like I give a damn about that. I never really cared about 'etiquette' and 'pride of the great Ushiromiya family' and that furniture complex some servants seem to have; it just makes stuff confusing. So. Here. Take it."
"…Alright. If you feel so strongly about it. I can't disobey a direct order like that."
Ronove smiled- maybe in a slightly abashed, flattered manner, but it was difficult to tell- as he accepted the piece of food. The bit of croissant was all battered and covered with Beelzebub's fingerprints, and it left flakes of pastry against Ronove's gloved fingers- but, really, it was the sentiments that counted.
"Ihihi~ Is it just me, or does your face look a little red?"
"It's just you, surely."
"Mm. Don't take that gift to heart, though, okaaay? I thought it'd be smart to get somebody to taste test it first."
"But you drink my tea and eat my cookies all the time without complaint."
"Yeah, but you can never be too careful. I mean, Beato looks really cute and sexy on the outside, but on the inside, she's pure evil."
"Well… maybe I wouldn't go that far, but I agree; it is wise to be prudent. But I'm still rather grateful for your gift all the same, Battler~ I'm sure this marks the flowering of beautiful relationship, pu ku ku~"
And with that, Ronove took the tiny piece of croissant, and put it his mouth-
"Chuuuu!~~ Got. You. Kyakyakyakya!~"
-only to be assaulted moments later by a burst of golden butterflies, blonde hair in two messy twin drills, and a pair of light-pink lips.
Beelzebub, who had been waiting silent, unseen and invisible for another chance to strike, pounced on Ronove the moment he put the croissant in his mouth- and she managed to claim it back, all for herself.
She managed to get it back by pressing her mouth squarely against his.
When she backed away, giggling, there wasn't a hint of embarrassment on her face. It might've been common for cute girls of Beelzebub's stature to get all shy and stuttery when even indirect kisses were brought up- but Beelzebub was so brazen about the whole thing her attitude threw all those old shoujo manga stereotypes straight into the trash can. She smiled, licking her lips, in a manner that was so shameless even Battler might have blushed.
Ahaha. Well, maybe that was only to be expected.
Those seven stake sisters (with the possible exception of Belphegor) were all rotten to the core, just like their master. They'd probably learnt all their manners from Beato.
"You should take better care of your food~ You know, I'll do any~thiiing~ for a bite to eat," said Beelzebub, grinning ominously. "See you later, when you have something else delicious I might want! Kyakyakya!~"
And, with a noisy laugh that sounded a little like a cawing seagull, Beelzebub vanished once more.
Battler was left alone with Ronove.
Somehow, the silence between them felt heavier than usual…
Was it just Battler's imagination, or did Ronove look… just a little embarrassed? It was kind of difficult to say, given that he was still smiling lightly- but, maybe… he wasn't quite meeting Battler's eye; and his face was slightly off-color.
"Ihihi. That's weird."
"Hm? Oh, no, it's not particularly strange. Miss Beelzebub really does do odd things when it comes to-"
"No, no, that's not what I meant. I mean… It's strange when the guy gets flustered over kisses. That's all."
"Flustered…?" Ronove pressed a hand against his cheek, checking whether it had become any warmer. Maybe it had- but it was difficult to tell, given he was wearing gloves. With a teasing smile, he said, "Ah, maybe you're right~ I didn't notice myself. You must have been watching me closely to detect a change in my complexion like that. How flattering."
"Nah, I wasn't. I'm so used to you smiling that any slight change on your face sticks out," Battler explained. He smirked. "Heh. I don't know why you don't look happier, though… Even though she's horrible, I wouldn't mind getting a free kiss from a cute girl like thaa~aaat~ That blonde hair is so cute… And those boobs, heheh. Maybe, if her eyes were blue, instead of that weird red, she'd be exactly my type~ I like straightforward girls who aren't afraid of teasing me, too."
"Yes, well… My 'type' is certainly different to yours'. Miss Beelzebub is charming girl, and we do get along rather well, but… Well; I see her more like a troublesome little sister than anything else."
"Oh? It's like that? Well, I understand that, too. I have a little sister as well."
"Is she anything like Miss Beelzebub?"
"Hell no. Ange is really, really cute! She's, like, a kind of serious kid, and she gets sick a lot, but she's just adorable… and so sweet! You'd never know she was that old bastard's kid," said Battler enthusiastically, eyes lighting up- to Ronove's amusement.
Battler sounded really fired up talking about his little sister. He was using the same tones he'd adapted when trying to crush the circle of chained closed room murders with Beato.
It seemed Ronove had, somehow, managed to hit upon one of Battler's key interests, beyond murder mysteries.
So… he had a paternal side to him, as well?
Perhaps that was why he got along so well with Beelzebub and Asmodeus. Battler was always playing around with them in his spare time; trying to steal his back from Beelzebub, and gently tugging on Asmodeus' pigtails when she tried to annoy him.
Even though the stakes had maimed Battler time after time again, he could still joke and talk with them pretty easily… just like they were childhood friends… or family.
Maybe Battler was more mature than Ronove had first thought.
"Pu ku ku~ I should be surprised you have such a protective side to your character… but, after giving it some thought, I think I should have deduced that earlier."
"I can't help babbling about Ange, ihihi… Kyrie said I acted more like a mom than she does… and I think my friends at school got kind of annoyed when every other word I said was 'Ange this' and 'Ange that'… Heh." Battler smiled somewhat sheepishly.
He'd been a pretty terrible big brother- so he'd tried his hardest to make it up to Ange. He'd tried to compensate for those five years of almost absence by spoiling her rotten, trying to be the best big brother he could be… but maybe that wasn't enough.
And now, if he never managed to return home…
But- gaaaah. Whatever!
This was way too sentimental; and thinking about Ange, as cute though she was, was only going to depress him.
When was the last time he'd patted Ange on the head? Read her a bedtime story? Picked her up and swung her round in the air?
When would be the next time he'd ever be able to do any of stuff?
If he didn't defeat Beato… maybe never.
Battler's eyes narrowed; his smile melted away.
"Idiot. Talking about things like this with a demon, as if you could ever understand…" Battler sighed. "Just disregard all that, okay?"
"I'll try… But it seems a shame, ignoring such a cute part of your character."
"C-cute? Don't go calling me stuff like that!"
Ronove laughed at Battler's indignation, and said, between giggles, "I'm sorry… I couldn't help myself. I was just telling the truth."
"It's fun to tease you. I was feeling a little melancholy myself- but I think you've improved my mood considerably."
"Hn? What do you mean, 'melancholy'? You're neversad. I don't think I've seen you frown oncebefore."
"Oh, it's nothing really… I was just somewhat disappointed that the only people who ever kiss me do so for personal gain. It's never because they truly care for me… Ah, now that is a tragedy, pu ku ku…"
Battler flushed slightly; cheeks dusted with light pink. W-why the hell was Ronove looking at him when he said that? D-damnit…
Stupid demon butler, always flirting with him… D-did Beato order him to do that, just to make him feel really, reeeally uncomfortable (even more so than he already was), or did Ronove just do that himself for the hell of it?
It was probably the latter.
A-and that annoying smile on his face… oh yeah; Ronove was clearly having fun.
"Shut up," snapped Battler, in tones that would've put Satan to shame (the girl, not the Christian devil… though maybe the second applied, too). "The sky'd have to start raining cake and jelly before I ever kissed you."
Ronove only smiled. "I'll keep that in mind~"
Battler's shoulders tensed slightly. He hated that stupid smile; it made him want to punch Ronove in the face, just to see if he'd get some awesome reaction other than a 'pu ku ku~'…
Battler's eyes widened slightly.
What if he… actually went through with it… and gave Ronove what he wanted?
What kind of face would Ronove pull then?
If Battler responded, that'd definitely stop Beato's butler teasing him; he was sure of it. So, if he threw his hands in the air, said 'fine, whatever!' and then dragged Ronove down by the collar (Battler was torn between being annoyed and relieved he'd finally met somebody taller than him) and pressed their lips together, then-
Even if doing that would shut Ronove up (it was kinda hard to talk when you were kissing somebody else), it'd turn Battler's stomach, and make him feel like being sick. It was kind of like trying to get out of a doing a test. It was possible to jump down the stairs, hitting every step on the way down, and break your legs so you didn't have to go into school and get the test done, but nobody would actually want to do that. Likewise, kissing Ronove would probably have stopped his teasing, but kissing him seemed a lot, lot worse than just suffering through his smiles and annoying laugh.
What to do, what to do…?
W-why was he thinking so hard about this, anyway… …?
"Battler? Are you alright?"
Evidently, Battler was not alright, given he jumped slightly when Ronove spoke to him.
"Is something troubling you?" asked Ronove lightly, voice slightly more sincere than usual, as he surveyed Battler's flushed face. "I hope you aren't considering my previous words too deeply. I didn't truly mean it, so it's nothing to get so agitated over; you're making me feel guilty… Even if this side of your character is-"
"Oh, shut up."
And, with that, Battler defiantly bit into the piece of croissant still held into his sticky hands-
-and shoved the second piece right into Ronove's mouth.
Through a mouthful of croissant, Battler muttered grumpily, "There. Since you were complaining about it so much, have an indirect kiss."
The look of surprise that instantly lit up on Ronove's face was… well, ihihi… It was enough to break Battler's bad mood- and, instantly, he started to smile.
Maybe… that unabashed expression kinda-sorta suited Ronove.
And, if Battler wasn't very much mistaken… now, it was Ronove who was blushing.
"Ihihi~ I guess you're not that much different from the girls at school who get giggly when they share straws with boys they liiiike~~~ I know you said you were just joking, but now I'm really curious… You don't really have a crush on me, do you?"
Ronove didn't reply. He couldn't, given his mouth was still full.
Instead, his face turned an even darker shade of red.
a/n: Yeah… I just like writing these two XDD Dey are so cute XD~~
I do like BeatoBato a lot, but I think they were handled so nicely in canon I don't particularly feel like writing for them myself. Meh. –shrug-
I wonder why so many of my stories with these two seem to feature food...? XDD;