Disclaimer: Beelzebub belongs to Tamura-sensei!
Dedication: To all Beelzebub fans whom the last chapter of the manga deeply touched; all Oga & Hilda supporters of course and for , who diligently reviewed former chapters!
A/N: I posted this chapter a little bit earlier than the second anniversary of "A Father, A Lover" but then again, I've made You, dear Readers, wait too long. The long and short of it: ENJOY!
I don't wanna feel like this tomorrow,
I don't wanna live like this today!
Make me feel better!
I wanna feel better!
Stay with me here now,
And never surrender!
"Never Surrender" – by Skillet
Chapter 10: Unexpected Guests
It had been one week now since Hilda left her parents' house and, according to the circumstances, started living with the odd father-son duo. And what made the couple so weird? It was the extraordinary, barbaric creature that was crazy enough to adopt an infant at the age of sweet sixteen - namely Oga Tatsumi! She had to be mad enough herself, she thought, to accept his offer and take custody of an unknown child together with a completely foolish stranger. She knew that it was an illegal act that they were going through with and that she made herself criminal with it. However, as long as the baby was cute enough to grow fond of her and as long as the barbarian was determined enough to put the child up despite knowing all risks, it convinced her to support those two temporarily.
It was past 7a.m. when Hilda got up and headed to the bathroom. She would always wake up early in the morning on Sundays since it would be her only free day, from which she wanted to benefit as much as possible. But today in particular, she felt exhausted and wanted to go back to bed that minute due to the stressful day afore. Hearing sounds from the kitchen, she diverted her course and found her housemate preparing several bottles of milk.
"You're already awake?" she watched him with sleepy eyes.
He uttered an approving grunt and didn't get distracted by her.
"What's all that milk for?" she leaned against the wall and crossed her arms.
"Beel's meals. You heard what the doc said."
Indeed, she did. It was only a few hours ago that the pseudo family left Dr. Forkas' practice. Since they didn't want to attract a great deal of attention, they decided to leave earlier than planned with the halfhearted acceptance of the doctor, before other patients would arrive there. He recommended going for a blow with Beelze occasionally to spend some time outside.
"Is it really wise to go out shortly after his fever is gone?" she stated the obvious.
"I know but I won't have a chance in the upcoming days."
"It won't be a problem for me-…"
"No, it would!" he stopped her midsentence and already sensed her angry eyes darted on his back. Nevertheless, he wouldn't let Hilda and Baby Beel go out on their own since it'd be too dangerous if her pursuers found her.
"Hmpf!" She turned around and wanted to go back to bed. "I still do think that it's an irrational idea but I won't hold you back. Just do whatever you want and as you think best! I'm going to sleep…" After all, she couldn't make him do anything, right?
"You're coming with us."
She stopped on her heels, as she couldn't believe her ears. "E-Excuse me?"
"You're coming with us so get changed!" Oga repeated.
It was that imperative tone of his that she hated the most about him. She just hated people telling her what to do or not. When she faced him anew with fury in her eyes to tell him off, he already stood behind her and was the first one who talked.
"I'm not gonna force you to come. But I don't wanna you stay here on your own. So you're coming with us!"
He said that in a calm tone as if it was the most self-evident thing ever. What kind of logic was that? He was not forcing her but he was telling her to attend them anyway. It was still early in the morning and he already caused her a headache.
"Next time, wake me up earlier if we're going outside." She commented plainly with a frown and went changing her clothes.
Oddly enough, her anger was blown away in a moment. He mentioned that he was not forcing her but why was she obeying an annoying, arrogant guy like him anyway? As the day before, he was still considering her situation and didn't want to leave her alone although he had more than enough troubles with Beelze. Instead of helping him with the baby stuff, was she rather being a nuisance for him and made him even more worries?
And why did the latter make her inwardly smile?
It had been more than half an hour since the irritated Oga was sitting on the couch and tapped his foot impatiently. He prepared Baby Beel's stuff, he prepared himself, he even brought the usually naked baby to wear something but what the hell made that damn woman take so long?! Slowly but surely, he regretted the idea of letting her sleep for so long.
"Next time, I'm definitely gonna wake her up even before I get up myself!" he thought, unable to think a sensible chain of thought due to his frustration.
"DA?!" he heard Beel's voice, who was sitting on his steady lap and watched his 'daddy' full of expectation.
"Yeah, yeah! I am calm…" he returned, gritting his teeth.
"I'm ready." he heard her voice and immediately took Beelze and stood up.
"Final-ly…" As soon as he caught a glimpse of her, he collapsed back on the couch.
"…what?" she arched a brow and crossed her arms. "You have a problem with my outfit?"
'A problem', she said?
That would be understated.
"The hell is wrong with you, woman?!" He remembered her pitch-dark clothes from their first encounter. "You… can't go out with… like… THAT!"
Hilda couldn't understand why he was overreacting so much. "I don't remember ever asking you what I shall wear or not!" she hissed back. "For your information, I still need to camouflage myself when we go to crowded places."
"And disguise yourself as the good fellas?! Come on, you must have something other than black to put on…" Even he already knew that habit of hers so her chasers would find her in a breath.
She put one hand on her hip and stared at him slid-eyed.
That was definitively a 'no'.
He bewilderedly bowed his head and scratched his hair. "Just get something of my closet, dammit!"
"Damn you, Oga Tatsumi!" she shouted back from the other room.
Leave the color aside; he needed her to buy more trousers.
After borrowing a red hoodie and combining them with dark leggings, Hilda assumed that her 'fashion adviser' would be satisfied because her outfit matched his blue tracksuit and grey baseball cap somehow or other. Well, it wasn't her style to be honest but that was precisely what she needed, right?
"Where are we going?" she asked moodily since they seemed to meander aimlessly here and there.
"You'll see." was Oga's solid answer when he turned left to a peaceful park. He shot a glance at his companion and took one hand out of his pocket. "I can take him..."
She looked down at Beel in her arms and restrained the urge to smile. "I'm fine..." she stopped and adjusted the blanket around him.
Oga stayed next to her. "We're going out for his sake and he dozes off…?!" He shook his head in disbelief, resting his eyes on the sleeping baby.
"Fool, what did you expect?" A low chuckle escaped her. "He's still a baby after all…"
"If it's only sleep, he could also do it at home, you know…" he murmured pensively.
Although they rarely showed any signs of contentment, Oga and Hilda's calm expressions induced a peaceful atmosphere. Some passersby also became aware of that.
"Oh my god, what a cute family!" An elder woman shrieked happily and approached with her friend.
"What a young, lovely couple…" the other woman yelled with dreamy eyes.
"Err… you're wrong there, auntie." Oga pulled down his cap to cover his eyes. "She's only… my cousin and-..."
"There, there, you don't need to act shy, my boy!" one of them interrupted him. "There's no need to be so modest and hide it..."
"M-modest?!" Jeez, and to think that he especially took this way to not encounter anyone he knew! Now, he was causing even more commotion…
"Oi..." he bent down to Hilda and whispered. "You say something, too, or I'm not sure where this'll lead to..."
His last action made the women sigh even more and look enviously at them. They wanted to get closer to have a look at the child and probably pet him here and there.
A gesture that Hilda deeply detested, knowing it from her own childhood.
She revealed her till now hidden gaze and shot the ladies a dangerous look - a look which made them stop on their heels and freeze on the spot. "My husband and I are in a hurry so excuse us, please!"
She said that in a low voice, even Oga got only half of it. However, it was like a sinister warning for the women as if their lives depended on it. They stiffly nodded to the blonde and slowly but surely backed off.
Oga was silent for a while and neither Hilda spoke another word. They continued walking and went on for about fifteen minutes until they reached a deserted area.
"What the hell is your problem, woman?!"
It was Oga who broke the silence first. His voice almost clanged through the empty buildings but it wasn't enough to wake the sleeping Baby Beel up, who already got used to their quarrels. "I told you to shake them off and not to scare them to death, dammit!" He could have done the latter himself if it had been what he wanted.
"First of all, you didn't tell me anything. Secondly, you…" she pointed her free index finger at him, "…cannot tell me to do something! And finally, it was the easiest way to get rid of them…" she explained as if it was the most self-evident thing in world and stared at him blankly.
"Idiot! No wonder if they take us for some freakin' kidnappers now!"
She looked away while answering to that one. "That's why I told them I was in a hurry with my family…" Well, that wasn't what she had exactly said back then but she'd rather not say it twice. "And it was you who led us to this route anyway. It's only natural that people would think that way..."
Yeah, she put it as if he was at fault again! Therefore, it was meaningless to discuss it over and over. "Let's just go on!"
After they kept moving another 20 minutes, they came to a halt.
They arrived at the back of beyond. That was Hilda's first impression when she saw the field with a few trees on it, a huge apple tree and a few smaller beech trees to be more precise. Even if the place would not be one of her first holiday destinations, she somehow… liked it for whatever reason.
"So…?" she watched him questioningly.
Oga could guess the unspoken thought in her head. He got better and better in interpreting her silence from day to day. He placed the bag with food under the biggest tree and looked around. "We'll rest here for a while since Beel could wake up any moment. We'll leave as soon as it gets… unnecessary."
"Unnecessary...?" she repeated, arching a brow.
"Just if it gets too cold… or if you get bored…" he mumbled incomprehensibly.
"I can't understand your patter so would you speak-…" She felt something moving and fidgeting in her arms, followed by Beelze's whining. Oga was already standing next to her with what the baby was obviously asking for. He guessed – or knew dead on time – when Beel was going to wake up.
"Shall I?" Hilda asked for the bottle, trying to hide her amazement. She sat down quietly and started feeding Baby Beel.
Hilda didn't tear her eyes off the baby for once. At the same time, she knew that a certain someone was observing them.
"Oga… have a rest." she suggested. "I'll take care of Beelze." Perhaps, it bothered her a tiny little bit that Oga didn't have a proper sleep last night. Anyhow, it rather deranged her to be observed so closely and intensely. He was observing her too much after Hilda's own fancy to the extent of figuring out her sartorial habit and so on by now. Even though he was only watching his 'son'…
"No need." He turned around and started to limber up.
She lifted her gaze towards him. "What's that supposed to be?"
"I'll train since you'll keep an eye on Beel." he turned back to her and seemed to be indirectly asking for her cooperation or assent.
Hilda nodded silently and wondered what was wrong with that guy. In the little while she knew him, she found out that he spent half of his life for training when he wasn't at school or taking care of Beelze. And here she thought she would remove some of his burden when she was looking after the baby. Instead of giving himself a break, that fool was putting more strain on his body.
Even though, she didn't care a hang!
Moreover, Oga didn't seem to make any progress with his training at all. She didn't know whether he was trying to match with that Toujo guy since they seemed to start a quarrel whenever they ran into each other. Sure, he wasn't a muscleman like Toujo. In spite of that, Oga also had well-toned arms and chest, which he usually hid under his loose fit clothes. She remembered that one single time, she had got a glimpse of his nearly undressed body when she had entered – or rather intruded into his apartment for the first time…
Hilda had an uneasy sense where her line of thought would lead her. She shook her head and looked up to the sky. 'All brawn and no brains!' – she thought those types were the worst. Then, she looked back at Beelze who drank more and more slowly, almost falling back to sleep. She smiled a little and closed her eyes. "Are you going to be as spirited as him, too, when you grow up?" she asked Baby Beel inwardly. Then again, she didn't believe that she would see him growing up alongside his wannabe father. Slowly, she dozed off as the baby already did, bearing a last thing in her mind:
How much longer would she be able to stay with them?
Hilda woke up and panted heavily. It was that nightmare again. The same nightmare, which haunted her every night so that she wasn't able to sleep continuously anymore. Was that the reason why she always was moody? On the other side, she was able to sleep better lately and got up shortly before her alarm clock rang. To be more precise, that was the case for the last week.
Since she started to live together with Oga and Beelze.
She felt something warm on her lap and saw the sleeping baby, whom she was holding unconsciously tightly close to her body. Then, that warmth slowly flowed through her whole body until it reached her heart. She smiled.
Hilda noticed that she was still leaning against the giant tree, meaning that they were still at the abandoned district from earlier. How long had she been asleep – a few minutes… or a few hours? Nonetheless, she currently was fit and contended like a newborn person although she had that nightmare. It might be because she took a short nap. Alternatively, it might be thanks to the peaceful place far from any semblance of civilization , which makes you get rid of all your problems and worries in life.
Or rather, forget about them for a brief moment.
Was that the reason why he brought her to that place in the first instance?
Right on cue, she heard a low cracking from left. Only then, she became aware of the person lying not much farther away from her. Oga was sleeping with his arms put under his head, one leg cocked and his cap pulled down to cover the major part of his face. Furthermore, she found a blanket covering the bottom part of her own body whereas she intended to bring it along for him.
"Fool. He'll catch a cold." She lowly swore at him howbeit it triggered a strange feeling in her stomach. At least, he gave himself a break at long last and slackened off a little bit…
She looked back at Baby and felt the urge to stroke his short green hair. "You have a good father…" she whispered almost inaudibly to him.
"What about you?"
Hilda was startled when Oga suddenly broke the silence.
"W-weren't you sleeping a moment ago?" she couldn't completely hide her puzzlement and turned away. Was it the fact that he was awake or the unexpected question that horrified her so much?
Oga sat up straight with a swift motion, his eyes still covered by the cap. "I nodded off for a sec." He stretched his arms and leaned back against the trunk, too. "So what about your old man?"
"Was he pretending to sleep so he could catch me off guard?" she thought displeased and clenched her teeth.
"I only heard 'father' at the end." he answered her as if he had read her mind. "You were mumbling something in your sleep."
"I was talking in my sleep?" she repeated in disbelief. "What… what did I-…"
Before she finished her question, he responded with an insisting gaze and waited for her to answer his question first.
Why should she? She knew that she wasn't obligated to answer him. She didn't need to tell him anything about her family. But once their eyes met, she couldn't help but reply to him. "I'm… at variance with him…"
Why did he ask her in the first place? Until now, he never wanted to know about her background. He only knew that somebody pursued her but he had never asked about it any longer.
Oga accepted her unquestioningly.
But why? Did he want anyone to support him in taking care of Beelze so badly? Yeah, that had to be it! That was the only plausible reason that Hilda came up with.
And now, he interrogated her about her past out of the blue.
She considered herself a burden to him all at once.
"Alright!" Oga got up and picked up his bag. "We're going home."
"It'll be dark soon." He looked up. "And I don't wanna Beel freeze his butt!"
"Wait!" Hilda got up and brought him to a halt. "That's… it?"
"That's it! People's privacy is just a pain in the back…" he went off.
"I said wait…!" she wrapped the blanket around Beelze and followed him.
So how was she supposed to take that now!
After a relaxing and albeit tiring trip, the trio arrived at their shared apartment finally. Oga fetched his key while Hilda was still holding Baby Beel, who had woken up in the meantime. Oga hesitated for a moment.
"What's the matter?" Hilda asked.
"Someone's there…" he muttered mindfully.
"It may be Furuichi…" she stated pensively, wary at the same moment.
"No." He knew that Furuichi wouldn't drop by at that time. Besides, he didn't remember leaving the door ajar as usual. "There are several people in there…"
Hilda wondered whether it would be her pursuers. Oga made a gesture for her to stay back and wait outside. He slowly brought the key to the keyhole and turned it around with caution. In the next second, he almost went like a bull at a gate and yelled. "Come at me at once if you have the bal-…!"
A shower of confetti fell down on him. Colorful balloons here and there. And what the hell were those three doing there!
Hilda wasn't sure what was going on since he had an unreadable expression. "Oga, what-… kya!"
He slammed the door and grasped for her hand. "We need to get out of here!" was his simple explanation before he wanted to haul her off.
"Don't move, Oga Tatsumi!"
The door opened again and Furuichi got a hold of Oga's collar. "What was that supposed to be?!"
"What is THAT supposed to be?!" Oga hissed back. "What the hell are you doing at my place?!"
"Don't stand there like a little boy lost!" Furuichi dragged him along with Hilda and Baby Beel into the apartment and closed the door.
"How did you even get in here?" Oga asked, struggling through the balloons.
"That's to Alain Delon's credit." Furuichi smirked. "That fellow is not only skilled in handcraft, but also in cooking."
Alain Delon popped out of the kitchen. "That's due to my female helper that the food has become so formidable."
Oga couldn't believe how well those two got along with each other when it came to torturing him. "You three planned all this crap out prudently…!" He made a grumbling face. "You know I don't like stuff like that in my house!" He looked daggers at his silver-haired friend, who had already feted countless parties of quite a different nature there.
"Well, we're celebrating Beelze-kun's discharge from hospital, so it's not like we've prepared this all for-… you…" The third person came out of the living room. As if acting on instinct, her eyes naturally met with Hilda's immediately.
"The class rep…" Hilda commented dryly.
Kunieda shot back the same indifferent look at her counterpart. "You didn't tell me that you've invited Hilda-san, too, Furuichi-kun."
Each time when the two women ran into each other, the atmosphere changed rapidly. Even Alain Delon, who met Kunieda for the first time and was introduced to her as Oga's neighbor, could sense the tension between them. It was a silent battle, in opposition to Oga and Toujo's, and thence more threatening. At least, that was Furuichi's impression. He was sure that their looks could definitely kill.
"Don't get the wrong idea, Kunieda." Hilda tightened her hold on the infant. "I was close-by and intended to visit Beelze. Not that I owe you an explanation though..."
Unlike Furuichi, Kunieda didn't know that she was living with Oga and Beelze momentarily. Hilda would willingly treat herself to the amusement of annoying the class rep with that matter of fact. However, the less people knew about it, the better for her own situation.
"Only dropped by, hm?" Kunieda asked skeptically and fixed her eyes on a particular spot. "You're right. You don't need to explain anything to me." she put on a false smile.
Everyone else followed her gaze and saw what she was looking at. Their faces took different expressions of horror or different shades of red.
Furuichi, angry and envious, was hardly distinguishable from a tomato.
Alain Delon, filled with contentment, tilted his head to the side with a blissful face.
Hilda, a mixture of rage and embarrassment, tried hard to keep her grip on Baby Beel and couldn't move.
Oga, as unreadable and unpredictable as never before, stiffly let go of Hilda's hand and headed for the living room. "So let's have the party then!"
After Hilda retreated and vanished into the bathroom to calm down a little, she came back and joined the guests in the living room. She couldn't move around freely whilst Kunieda was there. Thus, she would sit in the corner and wait until the class rep would leave. Admittedly, she had a feeling that Kunieda would not leave so easily. Hilda wouldn't care less but then again, she'd like to go to bed as soon as possible…
…to avoid a certain someone.
Entering the living room, she threw a brief glance at the latter to avoid any eye contact but she could have sworn that their gazes met for a split second. The landlord seemed to be especially busy, having a shit-chat with the other female in the room. In any case, Hilda went to the other two who were dull enough – not the dullest though – to feed Beel with solid food.
"Don't you know that a baby can't eat sushi yet?!" she scolded them and took Beelze in her arms.
"But Hilda-san…" Furuichi tried to look innocently, "…he sometimes eats croquettes, you know."
"That's a special case because it's his father's fav-…" she already felt two pairs of eyes darted on her from behind and didn't finish her sentence. "Never mind!"
"Well,…" It was Kunieda who broke the silence. "Beelze-kun should be almost one year old, right? I guess it's not bad to give him light food every now and then."
Hilda left that statement uncommented.
Then, the sound of a crying baby filled the room but it was not Baby Beel. Did it come from the neighborhood?
"Oh, the special guest has awoken." Furuichi laughed delightedly.
Before Hilda could follow his words, Kunieda stood up and brought the said special guest. It was another baby, a dark-haired one, who had a striking resemblance to Kunieda.
"Kouta, you've got manlier since last time!" Oga bent down to the baby and shook his little hand.
"Don't tease him like that!" Kunieda exclaimed jokingly.
"Well, he does look like a stuffed animal to me with those ears…"
"It's only a cap, duh!" she rolled her eyes.
"Kouta…?" Hilda repeated reflectively.
"He's Kunieda-san's little brother." Furuichi introduced the other baby.
Hilda stared at them nonchalantly. "He might also be her own child…"
Kunieda escaped a small chuckle. "I'll take that as a compliment, Hilda-san." She walked to her and Baby Beel. "Kouta, say hello to Hilda-san!"
"AU!" was his way of greeting her.
Hilda smiled back weakly to greet him back. The two women put down the babies who were in their own world and started to play with the balloons. Therewith, realization came upon her.
"I should be leaving." Hilda said out of blue and went towards the door.
"Eh?" Furuichi and the others were surprised. "You're…leaving?"
"Thanks for having me." she slightly bowed her head.
Something felt not right for Hilda as if she wasn't allowed to be there. Who was she there anyway? She was a classmate and knew about the existence of Beelze. No more, no less. Up to now, she considered herself as a replacement for Beelze's mother figure.
"I'm only your employee!" she remembered her words from back then.
But now, she saw that there were more suitable people around Oga who would help him with the baby stuff with good grace.
There was no reason for her to stay any-…
The most silent person so far lowly but firmly commanded her. "Why are you going?"
Hilda answered without looking back at him. "Because I don't feel like staying at your place anymore."
There was a moment of silence. She, as well as the spectators, didn't know what would happen afterwards. But none of them expected Oga's next words, especially Hilda.
"It's also your place now."
Neither did Oga tell her to leave, nor to stay. He left it up to Hilda to decide for herself. And all she could do was only standing there without saying another word, feeling a light twitch in her chest.
He accepted her unquestioningly.
After an exhausting event, the guests bid farewell and Hilda was almost done cleaning. She sat down on the couch and took a rest for a while. The whole day was very stressful for her, more mentally than physically.
She decided to stay at the Oga household for a little bit longer. She didn't really know why she still wanted to stay there. She also didn't find out why Oga wanted her to stay. However, there was one reason which eased her troubled mind for the time being.
It had been a long time since she felt 'at home' anywhere.
Her mobile phone started ringing and brought her back to reality. The caller's number was unknown to her.
"Hello?" she answered, wondering who it might be.
Hearing the voice at the end of line, she literally froze. Her hand holding the mobile, her body began to tremble.
"I know you hear me…" The caller spoke huskily.
"W-ock…" she managed to say in a feeble tone.
"Oi,…" The unaware Oga entered the room. "I've got rid of the balloons." He apparently came to help her.
"…who was that?!" The caller asked abruptly and Hilda turned off her phone in a flash.
Oga noticed the item in her hand. "My bad." He scratched his head. "I didn't know you were talking-…"
"It doesn't matter." She turned her head to his direction but didn't fully face him.
Her shaky voice and pale skin didn't escape his sharp senses. "You okay?"
"I'm fine." She stared into space. "I'll be fine."
A/N: I didn't plan to include the final scene yet but take it as a compensation for waiting for so long. And I didn't want to finish this with a cruel cliffhanger (whether Hilda will leave or not) since even I don't know when I'll be able to update…
I hope that it was worth waiting for you since there's less action but more Hilda's POV and the development of her feelings towards Oga. I also want to apologize to all Aoi fans! I might have described her a little bit too… bitchy this time.
Let me know what you think about this chapter and post a short/long review… please?!